Report: Derby 1 Rovers 0
Rovers suffered a frustrating defeat on their travels as they went down 1-0 to Derby County.
A Jacob Butterfield strike after just eight minutes was enough to secure all three points for the home side in a game where they barely deserved one.
Despite the disappointment of going behind early at the iPro, Rovers responded well as Elliott Bennett, Danny Graham and Jordi Gomez all went close.
The visitors continued to force the pace in the second half, although Rovers needed Jason Steele to make saves from Chris Martin and Tom Ince. However it was at other end where only an outstanding stop from Scott Carson prevented Ben Marshall equalising with a 71st minute free-kick.
The closing stages saw Rovers press more and more. But after Corry Evans had seen a shot deflect wide, Bennett's corner kick was nodded on by Steele to Gomez, but his diving header struck the bar and bounced away.
Rovers handed a debut to loan signing Matt Grimes as boss Paul Lambert maked six changes from the team that faced West Ham United on Sunday.
Along with a first start for the Swansea man, Grant Hanley, Tommy Spurr, Corry Evans, Jordi Gomez and Danny Graham all returned to the Rovers' starting XI.
After conceding five in the FA Cup at the weekend, the last thing Rovers would have wanted was to go behind to an early goal at the iPro Stadium.
But despite a bright start by the team in red, it was the Rams who opened the scoring on eight minutes from their first foray forward.
A dubious free-kick awarded against Tommy Spurr on the far side saw the ball quickly hit into the area, and although Shane Duffy headed clear, Jacob Butterfield had time and space to get the ball under control before lashing home from 20-yards.
Despite the disappointment of going behind early, Rovers responded well to be the better side for the remainder of the half.
Following a poor clearance from Scott Carson, Elliott Bennett let fly, but his first-time effort cleared the bar.
The home keeper then showed hesitation as Ben Marshall chased into the box, the Rovers man attempted a lob but Carson recovered to claim the ball above his head.
More neat passing from Paul Lambert's side saw Corry Evans thread the ball through for Graham, but after wrong-footing Jason Shackell, the striker fired over. Then as play continued to be towards the Rams goal Gomez dropped a shoulder to make space open up, but the Spaniard was wide with his left-footed effort.
Aside from the early goal, the home side had rarely troubled the Rovers defence, but Derby ended the half with Johnny Russell clipping a shot just wide of the far post after collecting a back-heel from Cyrus Christie.
The second half saw Rovers start the way they played for the majority of the first by dictating possession, pushing Derby back towards their own goal.
But aside from a Shane Duffy header over the bar, Rovers weren't able to pick out a man in red with the vital final pass.
Despite being the better side, the Rams started to pose more of a threat. Jeff Hendrick headed wide a Christie centre, before only an excellent tackle from Duffy stopped Russell's run into the area.
Then on the hour mark an unchecked run from captain Richard Keogh saw the defender find Martin on the edge of the box, the striker turned well to shoot, but Steele dived to his right to push the ball aside.
Rovers responded with a pair of opportunities of their own. A defence-splitting pass from Darragh Lenihan picked out Graham, but his first-time shot across goal was claimed by Carson.
Then as the visitors attacked well down the left, Spurr sent over a ball into the box, Bennett stretched out a boot but whilst he connected with the cross, he couldn't get enough of one to threaten the goal.
Derby responded by making the first change of the match as Tom Ince replaced Russell. Almost immediately the winger let fly with a curling left-foot shot, Steele could only palm into the path of Butterfield, but the midfielder couldn't take advantage.
But at the other end only a brilliant save from Carson prevented Rovers from drawing level on 71 minutes. After Gomez had been felled 30-yards out. Marshall took the resulting free-kick, the ball beat the wall, but the Derby keeper, at full-stretch, pulled off a finger-tip save.
Chris Brown replaced debutant Grimes as Rovers continued to look for the equaliser their play merited, the forward sweeping a delightful pass out to Marshall who raced into the box, but his near-post shot only found the side-netting.
The home side became increasingly nervous as the game entered the closing stages, Shackell almost heading into his own net from a Bennett centre.
Rovers continued to throw bodies forward and in the dying seconds were denied by the woodwork. After Corry Evans had seen a shot deflect wide. Bennett's corner picked out Steele in the Derby box, his header found a diving Gomez but the ball bounced agonisingly off the crossbar and away.
The result was harsh on Rovers as they had been the better side for long spells at the iPro Stadium, but that moment of carelessness on eight minutes proved ever so costly.
DERBY: Carson, Christie, Keogh (c), Hendrick, Martin, Russell (sub Ince 66 mins), Shackell, Johnson, Butterfield (sub Blackman 80 mins), Hanson (sub Bryson 73 mins), Olsson.
Subs not used: Grant (GK), Buxton, Camara, Weimann.
Goals: Butterfield 8 mins.
ROVERS: Steele, Marshall, Hanley (c), Duffy, Spurr, Lenihan, Evans, J. Gomez, Grimes (sub Brown 69 mins), Bennett, Graham.
Subs not used: Raya (GK), Henley, Kilgallon, Watt, Ward, Akpan.
Attendance: 27,411 (including 388 Rovers fans).