Report: Rovers 0 Brighton 1
Rovers' recent poor record against Brighton continued as they slipped to a narrow home 1-0 loss.
Bobby Zamora's third minute goal proved to be the difference between the two sides on a frustrating afternoon at a snowy Ewood Park.
Rovers started strongly but found themselves behind from the Seagulls' first attack of the match. A long ball forward found it's way to Jamie Murphy and although the midfielder's shot struck the post, Zamora snapped up the rebound.
Rovers saw plenty of the ball in the first half but David Stockdale in the Brighton goal was rarely tested, the closest the home side came was a Jordan Rhodes header that flashed narrowly wide.
Paul Lambert's side would go closer in the second half as Ben Marshall's free-kick rattled the crossbar. The visitors would also strike the frame of the goal as the post denied Anthony Knockaert.
Rovers pressed in the closing stages but Brighton held strong to claim all three points.
Rovers have little time to dwell on the defeat, they're back in action on Monday night in the re-arranged Emirates FA Cup tie against Newport County.
Ahead of the game Rovers made three changes from the side that faced Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday night.
With Shane Duffy missing out due to a groin injury, Matt Kilgallon recovered from a hip complaint in time to take his place in the heart of the Rovers defence. Darragh Lenihan was preferred to Corry Evans in midfield, whilst Chris Brown partnered Jordan Rhodes up front with Tom Lawrence amongst the subs.
The Seagulls made two changes from their midweek loss at Rotherham United as Bobby Zamora replaced James Wilson up front, Connor Goldson stepping in for the injured Gordon Greer.
In snowy conditions at Ewood Park it was the Rovers who started brightly, yet they found themselves a goal down inside three minutes.
A long ball forward skimmed off the head of Lenihan and as Kilgallon looked to clear the ball fell kindly to Jamie Murphy, his shot slammed against the foot of the post and ran straight across the area to where Bobby Zamora had time to tap home.
Despite the shock of conceding so early, Rovers looked for an immediate response. Craig Conway crossed for Jordan Rhodes, but his glancing header was inches past the post. Then Hope Akpan acrobatically fizzed a shot narrowly over the bar.
Another ball from Conway into the area again found the head of Rhodes, but on this occasion his effort was wide of the mark. At the other end a wicked delivery from Anthony Knockaert had to be headed away by Akpan from inside his own six-yard box.
The front two combined to good effect on 18 minutes, Rhodes poking the ball forward for Brown to chase, his clever back-heel played Rhodes into the area, but on his left foot his shot could only find the side-netting.
In what was an open first half, Rovers continued to pose the greater threat with Brown and Lenihan catching the eye, but despite seeing plenty of the ball David Stockdale in the Seagulls goal was rarely tested.
As the snow continued to drift around the ground, the game drifted towards half-time, the underworked Jason Steele had to show good reactions to beat away a powerful shot from goalscorer Zamora to ensure that Rovers trailed by just the one goal at the break.
In what was a foul-laden start to the second half, the visitors had the better of the early chances. Jason Steele had to punch clear a dangerous corner, before another inswinger from the right was headed over by defender Lewis Dunk.
But after Chris Brown looked to have been held, the Seagulls launched it forward, Zamora getting the better of Kilgallon but his lob over the advancing Steele went wide.
Ben Marshall thought he had gotten Rovers back on level terms just before the hour mark with a superb free-kick. The beating Stockdale but bouncing off the bar and the keeper but to safety.
Then it was Brighton's turn to strike the woodwork, Anthony Knockaert controlling the ball on his chest in the area before slamming his shot against the post.
Tom Lawrence was introduced on 62 minutes with Elliott Bennett making way. The on-loan attacker operating on the left with Conway moved to the right.
And it was lovely quick feet from Lawrence that saw Rovers create another opportunity on 68 as he skipped past Bruno, his centre found Conway who shot on the turn but Stockdale beat the ball away.
Zamora made way for James Wilson, whilst Adam Henley replaced Craig Conway to push Ben Marshall further forward on the right.
Rovers continued to press and probe, Rhodes saw a shot deflect wide after a strong run by Akpan, then from a goalmouth scramble Lawrence saw his poked effort blocked in the six-yard box.
New signing Simeon Jackson was handed his debut ten minutes from time, replacing the hard-working Darragh Lenihan to add more attackers to Rovers' ranks.
Rhodes saw a snapshot saved by Stockdale before the striker saw claims for a penalty waved away after he looked to have been pulled down in the box to compound a frustrating afternoon.
Rovers have little time to dwell on the result, they're back in action this Monday night when they face Newport County in the re-arranged Emirates FA Cup third round tie.
ROVERS: Steele, Marshall (sub Henley 73 mins), Hanley (c), Kilgallon, Spurr, Bennett (sub Lawrence 62 mins), Lenihan (sub Jackson 80 mins), Akpan, Conway, Rhodes, Brown.
Subs not used: Raya (GK), Olsson, Williamson, Evans.
Booked: Kilgallon, Spurr.
BRIGHTON: Stockdale, Bruno (c), Ridgewell, Goldson, Dunk, Stephens, Kayal, Murphy (sub Crofts 90+1 mins), Zamora (sub Wilson 73 mins), Hemed, Knockaert (sub Calderon 86 mins).
Subs not used: Maenpaa (GK), Lua Lua, Manu, Towell.
Goals: Zamora 3 mins
Attendance: 12,930 (including 606 visiting supporters)