Report: Rovers 1 Shrewsbury 2
Rovers crashed out of the Capital One Cup at the first attempt for the fourth season in succession after going down 2-1 at home to Shrewsbury Town.
In another desperately disappointing night in the competition, a much-changed Rovers team went out to lower league opposition once more.
A sloppy start saw the home side go behind inside just nine minutes, James Collins pouncing after Jason Steele had saved from Abu Ogogo.
Rovers drew level when Ryan Nyambe's cross was diverted into the back for a first Rovers goal for Nathan Delfouneso, but a minute later more calamitous defending allowed Tyrone Barnett to put Shrewsbury back in front and they deserved their lead at the break.
Rovers were better in the second half after Fode Koita, Danny Guthrie and Mo Barrow were introduced, with the Frenchman Koita going the closest to getting the team back on level terms, but the visitors held on to claim yet another scalp.
Before the game Gary Bowyer shuffled his pack for the cup clash with nine changes from the weekend match with Wolves.
Only Ben Marshall and Nathan Delfouneso retained their place as the manager handed a first team debut to 17-year-old defender Ryan Nyambe, whilst fellow Academy graduates Darragh Lenihan and John O'Sullivan were also given home starts.
New signing Modou Barrow received his international clearance before kick-off and was named on the substitute's bench, but the deal for fellow new arrival Hope Akpan wasn't completed in time for him to be eligible for the game.
Unfortunately for the debutant Nyambe it was his loose pass on nine minutes that handed the visitors a surprise lead.
His ball inside dissected Matt Kilgallon and Lee Williamson perfectly and that allowed Abu Ogogo to pounce. But whilst his shot was kept out by Jason Steele in goal, James Collins ran onto the rebound and picked his spot to put Shrewsbury in front.
Rovers looked for an immediate response. A surging run from O'Sullivan saw him find Delfouneso. The forward cut inside and let fly, but his curling effort was beyond the far post.
The visitors then saw strong claims for a penalty waved away when Ogogo went down under a challenge from Steele in the box but referee Geoff Eltringham only awarded Town a corner kick.
After a struggling opening, Rovers drew level against the run of play on the half hour. Nyambe attacked the Shrewsbury defence down the right before exchanging passes with Williamson to fire the ball across goal with Delfouneso claiming the last touch as the ball deflected into the back of the net.
However less than sixty seconds Rovers' defensive frailties returned and the visitors took full advantage.
Kilgallon's hooked clearance only found a yellow and black shirt, before Williamson was caught in possession and that allowed Tyrone Barnett to fire home at the near post.
The remainder of the half saw a nervous Rovers struggle to gain any forward momentum, whilst in contrast the visitors were neat and tidy in possession.
Only a sensational hit from Marshall in first half added time threatened Jayson Leutwiler's goal, but the keeper dived full length to his left to keep out the shot.
The eleven Rovers players that began the game were out early for the start of the second half. The manager's half-time talk no doubt still ringing in their ears.
But hopes of a fast restart never materialised and instead it was the visitors who should have taken a two-goal lead. A ball into the Rovers box bouncing off Kilgallon to Collins but from inside the six-yard box he blazed over.
That prompted a double change from Rovers as Fode Koita and Mo Barrow replaced Chris Brown and John O'Sullivan, with a third change soon after as Corry Evans made way for Danny Guthrie.
Suddenly there was more urgency to Rovers' play. Substitutes Guthrie, Barrow and Koita all combined for well, but the Frenchman's near-post shot was saved.
Then Williamson sent Nyambe charging down the flank, his centre picked out Koita but his back post header was acrobatically kept out by Leutwiler.
Another opportunity would fall for the summer arrival from Caen, controlling a Steele clearance on his chest, Koita hit an outstanding effort goalwards, the ball a whisker away from the top corner of the net. The display of the Frenchman was certainly a bright point on an otherwise poor evening for the Blue and Whites.
After Barnett had fired straight at Steele at one end, Koita was again the man to go closest for Rovers, but his downward header from a Marshall corner flashed past the wrong side of the post.
Despite five additional minutes played Rovers couldn't make more of the game, the visitors slowing down play to frustrate their hosts to ensure progression through to the second round of the cup competition.
ROVERS: Steele, Nyambe, Lenihan, Kilgallon (c), Spurr, O'Sullivan (sub Barrow 57 mins), Evans (sub Guthrie 65 mins), Williamson, Marshall, Brown (sub Koita 56 mins), Delfouneso.
Subs not used: Raya (GK), Rhodes, Duffy, Conway.
Goals: Delfouneso 30 mins.
SHREWSBURY: Leutwiler, Grandison, Barnett, Lawrence (c), Goldson, Ogogo, R. Woods, M. Woods (sub Brown 85 mins), Sadler, Tootle, Collins (sub Akpa-Akpro 76 mins).
Subs not used: Burton (GK), McAlinden, Whalley, Clark, Ellis.
Goals: Collins 9 mins, Barnett 31 mins.
Booked: Tootle, Leutwiler.
Attendance: 5280 (including 648 visiting supporters)