Report: Rovers 2 Rotherham United 1
Rovers recorded a third consecutive home win with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Rotherham United.
Jordan Rhodes, the matchwinner last time out at Ewood against Fulham, was the hero once again to take his goal tally for the season to 11 with a close-range strike four minutes from time.
Man of the match Craig Conway had given Rovers a first half lead with a sumptous strike ahead of the break, but the home side's inability to put the game beyond the Millers almost proved costly when former Rover Matt Derbyshire levelled on 72 minutes.
That prompted the introduction of striker Rudy Gestede and he was unfortunate to see his near-post header crash off the inside of the post and away, but his strike partner Rhodes made no mistake when he forced the ball home after Ben Marshall and Gestede had kept it alive in the area.
Rovers had further chances but it was the visitors who could have claimed a share of the points at the death, midfielder Paul Green seeing his header flash the wrong side of the upright much to the relief of those of a blue and white persuasion.
Rovers welcomed Tom Cairney back into the starting XI and he had a hand in the first chance of the match after six minutes.
The midfielder floated a free-kick into the centre of the area but Jordan Rhodes' header bounced the wrong side of the post.
Rhodes was in the thick of the action minutes later when a cross was nodded into his path by Chris Brown. The forward struck the ball well on the half-volley, keeper Adam Collin getting down well to beat the ball away.
But 20 minutes in Rovers were forced into an early change when Jason Lowe was unable to continue with what looked like a reoccurrence of the foot injury that had plagued the player all season. Alex Baptiste on as his replacement at right back.
The Millers, unchanged from their weekend win over Ipswich Town, had rarely threatened, but on 33 minutes they had claims for a penalty waved away by referee Geoff Eltringham.
As former Rover Matt Derbyshire shielded the ball to find Conor Newton, his shot struck Alex Baptiste, but the visitors' appeals for a spot-kick went unheard.
Cairney saw an effort blocked at one end whilst Richie Smallwood blazed high over the bar at the other.
The game appeared to be drifting towards a goalless first half at a misty Ewood Park until a sublime goal from Craig Conway broke the deadlock four minutes before the break.
Picking up a short pass from Markus Olsson on the left touchline, the midfielder cut inside before unleashing a stupendous 25-yard right-foot strike that flew into the far top corner of the net leaving Collin no chance.
Two minutes later and Conway very nearly turned provider. The Scot sending a free-kick into the box which Brown rose brilliantly to head goalwards. It seemed certain that he'd be celebrating his first goal in Rovers colours, but Collin got his fingertips to the ball to turn his effort aside.
After creating very little in the first half it was no surprise to see the visitors pose more of an attacking threat in the second.
Rovers were thankful for an early smart block from Matt Kilgallon after Derbyshire found rare space going forward.
Rotherham boss Steve Evans soon made a double change with Adam Hammill and Jack Hunt introduced. Hammill failing to test Jason Steele with a pair of free-kicks before Derbyshire fired low from distance but it was easily claimed.
Rovers should have doubled their advantage on the hour mark when Grant Hanley had a free header from a Cairney free-kick. Millers keeper Collin came along way to try and meet the centre with the Rovers captain heading goalwards but he planted the ball well wide of goal.
Ben Marshall replaced Tom Cairney and he was soon involved. A quick-fire break involving Spearing, Rhodes and Conway saw the ball arrive at Marshall but he fizzed his shot narrowly over.
But the visitors took advantage of Rovers' inability to grab a second, and it was perhaps inevitable that it was one of their former heroes who found the back of the net.
There seemed little on as Paul Green had possession on the right but his near-post cross was met on the run by Matt Derbyshire and he fired home.
Disappointed to be back on level terms, Rovers looked to quickly make amends with Rudy Gestede introduced with 15 minutes to go.
It almost paid dividends as substitutes Marshall and Gestede combined on 84 minutes.
Excellent approach play by Marshall saw him drive at the Millers defence into the box, his near-post cross was met by Gestede who was unfortunate to see his header crash off the inside and away.
Thankfully two minutes later Rovers did get their second goal to earn a much-needed three points.
Craig Conway attacked down the right before delivering a deep cross to the back post, Marshall then Gestede nodded on to where Rhodes was there to pounce from close-range to put them home side back in front.
Rovers had further chances, Conway shot weakly after a strong run, then Rhodes and Gestede couldn't take advantage of a two-on-one situation.
That almost came back to haunt them with seconds remaining when Paul Green headed goalwards for Rotherham - thankfully it was just the side-netting that was found to ensure that Rovers would record a welcome three points.
On Saturday Rovers impressed without any reward, tonight they admittedly weren't at their best but every victory is a welcome one.
Next up is the FA Cup on Saturday with Stoke City the visitors at Ewood Park.
ROVERS: Steele, Lowe (sub Baptiste 20 mins), Hanley (c), Kilgallon, Olsson, Cairney (sub Marshall 65 mins), Spearing, Evans, Conway, Brown (sub Gestede 75 mins), Rhodes.
Subs not used: Eastwood (GK), Spurr, King, Taylor.
Goals: Conway 41 mins, Rhodes 86 mins.
Booked: Spearing, Cairney.
ROTHERHAM: Collin, Arnason, Green, Richardson, Newton (sub Hammill 51 mins), Pringle (sub Hunt 51 mins), Morgan (c), Sammon (sub Ward 67 mins), Derbyshire, Fryers, Smallwood.
Subs not used: Thompson (GK), Broadfoot, Frecklington, Bowery.
Goals: Derbyshire 72 mins.
Attendance: 13,403 (924 visiting supporters).