Report: Rovers 3 Reading 1
Rovers made it a hat-trick of victories with an impressive 3-1 win over Reading on Saturday.
A brace from Rudy Gestede and another sumptuous strike from Ben Marshall saw the Rovers dispatch the Royals in yet another an entertaining Ewood affair to stretch their unbeaten run to five games.
Gestede headed Rovers in front just past the quarter hour, but Reading deservedly drew level through Glenn Murray before the break in an even first 45.
But it was the second half where Rovers step up their play. The visitors having no response as man-of-the-match Marshall curled the home side back in front with a wonderful free-kick nine minutes after the restart.
A third soon followed on 68. Marshall with the delivery, Jordan Rhodes unlucky to see his header strike the post, but Gestede snapped up the rebound with a cool finish to ensure Rovers claimed all three points with their second successive 3-1 win.
Ahead of the game Rovers made just the one change from the side that beat Nottingham Forest last time out.
Second half goalscorer Rudy Gestede returned to the starting XI, replacing Ryan Tunnicliffe as Rovers switched to their familiar 4-4-2.
For the Royals, they changed a winning side following their home victory over Blackpool. Jake Cooper, former Rover Nick Blackman, and Jake Taylor all coming into the side.
There was plenty of attacking intent as the game got underway, with both sides having opportunities in the early exchanges.
For Rovers, Rudy Gestede twice had headed chances. The first blocked by defender Alex Pearce from Markus Olsson's centre. The second coming as he dived to meet an Alex Baptiste ball but his effort flashed wide.
The Royals would go closer from the first corner of the game as Oliver Norwood's centre was met by Glenn Murray, but the on-loan forward saw his glancing header bounce off the crossbar and away.
For Gestede to miss two headed chances was rare, but he wasn't about to miss when a third chance came his way on 16 minutes. Tom Cairney started the move with a ball out to Ben Marshall on the left and he delivered a pin-point cross that the big man buried with aplomb - a bullet of a header.
Three minutes later it was very nearly two. A low ball in the box broke to Jordan Rhodes and as he turned to shoot the ball deflected into the path of his strike partner Gestede but he couldn't beat Adam Federici from close-range.
But Rovers certainly weren't having things their own way as play quickly switched to the other end of the pitch. Glenn Murray again going close to scoring as his low shot from one corner of the six-yard box flashed inches wide of the far post.
The Royals continued to look for a leveller, midfielder Norwood letting fly from outside the area, Rovers captain Grant Hanley with an important boot to deflect the shot wide.
The chances kept on coming, Rhodes couldn't lift his attempted lob over Federici at one end, whilst Jake Taylor saw an effort beaten away at the other.
Something had to give and a second goal duly arrived two minutes before the break as the visitors equalised.
Little had been seen of Royals wide-man Jordan Obita from an attacking sense but on 43 minutes he went forward down the left before delivering a low ball to the back post to where Murray cashed in with a goal from two yards out.
It was a goal that had been coming, both Gestede and Murray the main threat each side, and both on the scoresheet at the break.
Rovers made a change with the resumption of play as Ryan Tunnicliffe replaced Lee Williamson and six minutes in they very near regained the lead.
Ben Marshall broke down the left to deliver a peach of a cross for Jordan Rhodes who dived to connect, the ball appeared to have beaten Federici in the Royals goal but he somehow got back to claw it off the line.
Two minutes later however, Rovers were celebrating their second goal of the game. Man of the moment Ben Marshall followed up his first half assist by grabbing his sixth of the campaign, a superb free-kick from 20 yards that left a static Federici with no chance.
Nigel Adkins responded with a double change for the visitors as Simon Cox and Jamie Mackie replaced Hal Robson-Kanu and Jake Taylor in an attempted to get back on level terms once more.
Instead it was Rovers celebrating a third goal of the afternoon to put some welcome daylight between themselves and the Berkshire side.
The imperious Marshall was inevitably involved, taking on Royals captain Chris Gunter down the left before delivering into the box, Rhodes rose to head goalwards only to see his effort slam off the post, but Gestede was calm and composed as he stroked the rebound into the net for his eighth of the campaign.
That third Rovers goal took the sting out of the game, with substitute's Luke Varney and Craig Conway brought on to keep the Reading defence on their toes.
The workrate from striker Jordan Rhodes also caught the eye in the closing stages, tirelessly closing space down, much to the delight of the home fans.
To their credit the visitors continued to look for a way back, but Jason Steele was rarely tested as Rovers saw the remaining minutes without due concern to register a hat-trick of victories.
Next up is a tricky Tuesday night trip to the Den to take on Millwall.
ROVERS: Steele, Baptiste, Hanley (c), Duffy, Olsson, Cairney, Evans, Williamson (sub Tunnicliffe 46 mins), Marshall (sub Conway 86 mins), Gestede (sub Varney 81 mins), Rhodes.
Subs not used: Eastwood (GK), Henley, Kilgallon, Dunn.
Goals: Gestede 16, 68 mins, Marshall 55 mins.
Booked: Evans, Varney.
READING: Federici, Gunter (c), Pearce, Norwood, Robson-Kanu (sub Cox 61 mins), Obita, Akpan (sub Williams 76 mins), Murray, Blackman, Taylor (sub Mackie 60 mins), Cooper.
Subs not used: Anderson (GK), Kelly, Ferdinand, Pogrebnyak.
Goals: Murray 43 mins.
Booked: Obita, Akpan, Cooper.
Attendance: 14,237 (including 411 visiting supporters)