Report: Rovers 0 Barnsley 2
It was an afternoon to forget for Rovers as Barnsley recorded a league double with 2-0 victory.
The damage was done in the first ten minutes at a sunny Ewood Park as Reds' captain Marc Roberts headed the visitors in front inside three minutes, before Marley Watkins doubled their advantage via the crossbar just seven minutes later.
Lucas Joao headed into the arms of Adam Davies as they looked for a way back into the game, but although the Rovers saw plenty of the ball, they struggled to carve open any meaningful efforts on target.
The home side continued to knock on the door in the second half, but there was to be no way past a well-drilled and resolute Barnsley side who deserved all three points.
Defeat means Rovers remain in the bottom three, the matches over the Easter weekend now taking on a greater significance.
Going into the match Tony Mowbray made six changes to the side that faced Reading in midweek.
With centre-halves Charlie Mulgrew and Darragh Lenihan ruled out, their places were taken by Wes Brown and Tommie Hoban, whilst Connor Mahoney was handed his first start under the new boss.
Danny Guthrie, Lucas Joao and Marvin Emnes all returned as Liam Feeney, Craig Conway, Hope Akpan and Sam Gallagher dropped to the bench.
The visitors made four changes from their last line-up as George Moncur, Marley Watkins, Gethin Jones and Ryan Hedges start. Adam Hammill, Tom Bradshaw, Alex Mowatt and Andy Yiadom the men to make way.
Ewood Park may have been bathed in sunshine but it was the team in red who were bright from the off.
They served warning inside the opening 90 seconds when Hoban had to clear behind a dangerous corner from Ryan Kent, before Jason Steele had to palm away a George Moncur shot.
But a third minute corner kick saw the south Yorkshire side grab the opening goal. Kent with a corner from the right and Barnsley captain Roberts nodded home at the back post.
Shell-shocked, Rovers were unable to string two passes together as the visitors continued their impressive start, with a second goal duly arriving on ten minutes.
With time and space to advance towards goal, Watkins let fly from 25-yards, the ball slamming down into the back of the net off the crossbar despite the best of efforts from Steele.
Slowly, Rovers started to come into the match, a flick from Joao almost saw Elliott Bennett in on goal, keeper Adam Davies quickly out to thwart the danger.
But it was his opposite number who continued to be much the busier of the two, Steele twice saving low to keep out Moncur efforts.
Brown saw a back post show deflect behind, before another Mahoney corner saw Hoban glance past the opposite post.
But the best Rovers chance came on 33 minutes when another Mahoney centre picked out Joao in front of goal, but his downward header was straight at Davies.
The visitors threatened a third as the half drew to a close with Kent forcing another save from Steele.
Tony Mowbray wasted little time in making a change at the break as Danny Graham replaced Danny Guthrie. But the striker soon sustained a knock and although he attempted to play on after treatment, the club's top scorer limped off with Sam Gallagher taking his place after just six minutes.
Mahoney then fired wide on the angle at one end, whilst Kent did similar at the other. But those early second half openings soon gave way to a half that offered little in an attacking sense.
With a two-goal advantage, Barnsley were content to sit back and allow Rovers to have possession away from danger, whilst their pace meant they continued to carry a threat on the counter as the home side committed more men forward.
Bennett fired over from a Mahoney corner, before Rovers made their final change as Craig Conway replaced Marvin Emnes who needed treatment right on half-time.
Mahoney continued to be Rovers' best outlet, but he saw a near-post shot blocked for a corner. His delivery from the right saw Derrick Wiliams head goalwards, but Moncur was alert in the six-yard box to clear the danger.
The best chance of Rovers getting on the scoresheet came with eight minutes remaining when Gallagher nodded high ball up from Williams into the path of Conway. But the substitute hesitated in pulling the trigger in front of goal, allowing Barnsley, like they had done throughout, to get a body in the way of the effort to keep the home side out.
Gallagher saw late opportunities to get something from the match, but after lashing a right-footed shot beyond the far post, the last act was to plant a header over the bar to sum up a miserable afternoon for all those of a blue and white persuasion.
The result at Ewood and elsewhere sees Rovers entrenched in the bottom three, they need a reaction and fast this Good Friday at Nottingham Forest.
ROVERS: Steele, Nyambe, Hoban, Brown, Williams, Mahoney, Lowe (c), Guthrie (sub Graham 46 mins (sub Gallagher 53 mins)), Bennett, Emnes (sub Conway 65 mins), Joao.
Subs not used: Raya (GK), Feeney, Ward, Akpan.
Booked: Bennett 45+1 mins, Hoban 66 mins.
BARNSLEY: Davies, Roberts (c), MacDonald, Scowen, Moncur (sub Mowatt 90+4 mins), Watkins, Janko, Jones, Hedges (sub Bradshaw 69 mins), James, Kent (sub Armstrong 88 mins).
Subs not used: Townsend (GK), Lee, Jackson, Bird.
Goals: Roberts 3 mins, Watkins 10 mins.
Booked: Watkins 68 mins.
Attendance: 12,347 (including 1211 visiting supporters)