Report: Rovers 1 Leeds United 2
Rovers suffered a rare defeat at the hands of Leeds United as they went down 2-1 at Ewood Park.
A goal against the run of play from Sol Bamba in the first half put the visitors in control, before Mirco Antennucci doubled their advantage with a cool strike on the break in the second.
Rovers, who looked like a side playing their ninth match in four weeks, did offer a glimmer of hope when Simeon Jackson pulled a goal back a minute from time, but it proved to be mere consolation.
Following midweek victories, both sides made just the one change for the Saturday lunchtime clash. For Rovers, Hope Akpan replaced Corry Evans, whilst Toumani Diagouraga got the nod ahead of Luke Murphy for the visitors.
And looking for their fifth home league win in succession it was the Rovers who started the stronger of the two sides at Ewood Park. An early Tommy Spurr cross picked out Danny Graham, but the forward could only find keeper Marco Silvestri with his header.
Rovers continued to press and probe, a strong run from Tony Watt deserved more but he couldn't find Elliott Bennett with his cut-back, before a Bennett free-kick picked out Shane Duffy but he planted his header wide.
But whilst the majority of play was with Rovers, the home side were grateful for a superb save from Jason Steele on 16 minutes. Alex Mowatt with the free-kick, the keeper with a diving stop to his left.
Watt was wide with an improvised header, before the best chance for Rovers in the first half saw Graham turn his man to burst into the area but Silvestri got down well to save his shot across goal.
Despite the pressure from the home side, it was the visitors who took the lead against the run of play ten minutes before the break. Mowatt with a corner from the right and captain Souleman Bamba was left criminally unmarked to fire high into the roof of the net from inside the six-yard box.
Boosted by the goal it was Leeds who ended the first half the stronger, but a Mirco Antenucci effort that flashed wide was the closest either team came to adding to the scoreline before the half-time whistle blew.
The second half started brightly enough for Rovers as Graham glanced a Bennett corner wide, but it proved to be a rare sight of goal for the home side as the exertions of the month appeared to catch up with Paul Lambert's men.
The Rovers boss looked to fresh legs as Simeon Jackson replaced Tony Watt on 62, but it was the Yorkshire club who doubled their advantage on 69 minutes.
It came from a Rovers corner from which Silvestri flapped at, but play was quickly switched upfield and as Mowatt fed Antenucci, he ran into the area before cooly clipping the ball over the advancing Steele for his third goal in successive matches.
Craig Conway and Matt Grimes replaced Jordi Gomez and Darragh Lenihan respectively, and it was from an 89th minute Conway cross that Rovers would get hope of a dramatic late comeback.
Bennett played the ball short to the Scotsman and as his ball to the back post bobbled about, fellow sub Jackson acrobatically forced it home for his first Rovers goal.
A huge roar went up from the home fans as six additional minutes were shown, but despite sending Duffy up front for the remaining minutes, Rovers weren't able to convert one last chance as they slipped to a rare defeat by their opponents.
ROVERS: Steele, Marshall, Duffy, Hanley (c), Spurr, Lenihan (sub Grimes 76 mins), Akpan, J. Gomez (sub Conway 71 mins), Bennett, Watt (sub Jackson 63 mins), Graham.
Subs not used: Raya (GK), Brown, Ward, Evans.
Booked: Jackson 89 mins.
LEEDS: Silvestri, Bamba (c), Bellusci, Antenucci, Mowatt (sub Dallas 74 mins), Doukara (sub Wood 85 mins), Diagouraga (sub Murphy 90+4 mins), Taylor, Cook, Bridcutt, Berardi.
Subs not used: Grimes (GK), Wootton, Carayol, Botaka.
Goals: Bamba 34 mins, Antenucci 69 mins.
Booked: Berardi, Bellusci, Cook.
Attendance: 16,071 (including 3344 visiting supporters)