Report: Sheffield Wednesday 1 Rovers 2
Rovers warmed up for the weekend showdown with Liverpool in the perfect manner with a superb away win over Sheffield Wednesday.
Gary Bowyer's side had to overcome defensive adversity but they were rewarded with a much deserved three points at Hillsborough.
Jordan Rhodes put Rovers in front on 17 with a cleverly taken finish from close-range before Adam Henley scored his first career goal to put them firmly in control.
But the match will be remembered for the superb defensive display by Rovers with debutant Doneil Henry outstanding alongside captain Matt Kilgallon at the back.
The Canadian international only met his new team-mates at 4.30pm having signed on loan from West Ham United earlier in the day.
Time and time again the pair kept Wednesday at bay, and although substitute Chris Maguire did manage to breach the back line just past the hour mark, to a man the team defended resolutely to fully deserve their win on their travels.
Rovers sprang somewhat of a surprise when they named new signing Doneil Henry in their starting eleven for the Roses clash.
Signed just hours before the match at Hillsborough, the Canadian was one of five changes from the side that drew with Bournemouth at the weekend as Tommy Spurr, Chris Brown, Lee Williamson and Jordan Rhodes all returned.
There were inevitable early nerves from the debutant as hesitancy on the ball almost saw the hosts open the scoring after five minutes, but Will Keane was denied by Jason Steele after turning in the box.
Six minutes later a deep cross to the back post saw Liam Palmer arrive unmarked, Rovers having to scramble away from inside the area.
But as Rovers grew into their surroundings, they started to take control of the match, winning a series of corner kicks.
On 17, a Ben Marshall corner was cleared to touch from where Tommy Spurr threw it long into the area, Brown flicked onto Rhodes who deftly controlled before beating Keiren Westwood with a sneaky shot in off the post.
The Owls looked to hit back when Jacques Maghoma, matchwinner when the two sides met at Christmas, crossed for Keane, but he blazed over with better options around him.
Rovers roared forward once more, again a Spurr throw causing confusion in the Wednesday defence. Chris Taylor hooked the ball back into the danger area to where Marshall headed goalwards only to be denied by a fine Westwood save low down to his right.
The resulting corner kick saw Marshall's inswinger tipped onto the woodwork but they maintained the pressure to double their advantage on 26 minutes.
The move was started and ended by the unlikely figure of Adam Henley, who played one-twos with both Henry and Jay Spearing before steering his shot underneath Westwood and into the far corner of the net.
It was the young defender's first goal at senior level for Rovers.
Marshall fired wide with a left-foot shot, whilst Brown saw two efforts blocked as the visitors looked to put the game beyond the hosts. Wednesday fortunate to escape a penalty decision when Tom Lees looked to have handled in the box.
Maghoma threatened on the stroke of half-time for the hosts but Henry made an excellent challenge to keep Wednesday at bay.
Like the first half Wednesday start the second strongly with early chances after the resumption of play. Lewis McGugan seeing an early shot deflect behind, before Keane blazed high when well placed.
But also like the first half, Rovers saw strong claims for a penalty waved away by the referee. Spearing played a precise pass through to Taylor in the box only for the midfielder to be brought down by Sam Hutchinson, but the officials were unmoved.
However just past the hour mark persistance paid off for the home side as they eventually got a goal back.
Two almighty scrambles in the Rovers box saw bodies thrown on the line, Kilgallon and Henry blocked superbly, Steele also made a fine save, but substitute Chris Maguire was able to force the ball home from close-range.
The ever-impressive Kilgallon then turned defence into attack with a sensational run forward, he played in Rhodes but Westwood saved the shot as the striker looked to lift the ball over the goalkeeper.
As the game entered the closing stages play became increasingly stretched with both teams struggling to create any clear-cut openings.
Spearing threaded a ball through for Rhodes to chase but Westwood claimed, whilst a Tom Lees cross into the box was headed wide by sub Stevie May.
Rovers worked tirelessly in the closing stages to hold onto their lead, with heroes all over the park as they saw a suprise five additional minutes to put them in the perfect mood ahead of Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final with Liverpool.
SHEFF WEDS: Westwood, Hutchinson, Semedo (c) (sub Maguire 40 mins), Palmer, Nuhiu, Lees, Zayatte (sub Helan 46 mins), Maghoma (sub May 69 mins), Dielna, McGugan, Keane.
Subs not used: Kirkland (GK), Vermijl, Lee, Mattock.
Goals: Maguire 61 mins.
ROVERS: Steele, Henley, Henry, Kilgallon (c), Spurr, Taylor, Williamson, Spearing, Marshall, Rhodes, Brown.
Subs: Eastwood (GK), Cairney, Olsson, Lenihan, Evans, Conway, Gestede.
Goals: Rhodes 17 mins, Henley 26 mins.
Booked: Henley, Brown, Spurr.
Attendance: 19,593 (including 510 Rovers fans).