Report: Nottingham Forest 0 Rovers 1
Tommie Hoban's first goal for Rovers earned them a valuable 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest on Good Friday.
The on-loan defender struck 12 minutes from time, heading home a Connor Mahoney corner, to settle a nervy encounter at the City Ground.
Rovers had the better of the first half as Akpan, Gallagher and Bennett all went close, whilst Ben Brereton had the best opportunities for the hosts.
The second half continued to be a close affair until Rovers struck on 78th minute. Derrick Williams worked tirelessly to win a corner on the right and Hoban arrived at the back post to prod home Mahoney's centre.
Forest pressed for a late leveller, but David Raya made a point-blank save to keep out Britt Assombalonga from close-range to help Rovers claim all three points.
Ahead of the match boss Tony Mowbray made five changes from the side that lost to Barnsley last time out.
Jason Steele missed out due to an ankle injury, whilst Danny Guthrie, Wes Brown, Lucas Joao and Marvin Emnes all dropped to the bench.
That meant a first league start of the season for David Raya in goal, whilst Elliott Ward was back in the starting eleven for the first time since the opening day of the season. Hope Akpan, Liam Feeney and striker Sam Gallagher the other changes.
Forest were unchanged following their victory over Huddersfield Town six days earlier and they were first to threaten inside five minutes when Zach Clough closed in on goal. But Akpan was back in the nick of time with a timely tackle.
Rovers responded well as Connor Mahoney drew a foul from Armand Traore that saw yellow. Mahoney himself took the free-kick from the right, but whilst his left-footed strike from the corner of the area beat Jordan Smith in the home goal, the ball flashed inches past the far post.
The visitors continued to see plenty of the ball, frustrating the home support by capitalising on some wayward passing, however a mis-placed pass from Jason Lowe saw Jamie Ward bear down on the Rovers goal. But his name sake Elliott got back with an important tackle to clear the danger.
Elliott Bennett poked just wide after good work from Feeney and Gallagher, before a Mahoney centre was a foot too high for Feeney at the back post. Derrick Williams did well to keep the play alive to feed Bennett, but again he couldn't find the target.
Mahoney, who made his first league start on this ground last season, continued to be a thorn in the Forest back line with a wonderfully whipped centre from the right, Akpan got there at the near post to glance goalwards but again it went wide.
The hosts threatened as the half drew to a close through young striker Ben Brereton. First with an effort on the angle that was deflected over the bar, before a 35-yard strike that flew just over the upright signalled the last action of the half.
Forest made a change at the break as Michael Mancienne replaced defender Matt Mills, and it was they who had the first effort at goal on 54 minutes.
After Elliott Ward was adjudged to have fouled Clough 25-yards out, the former Bolton youngster took the resulting free-kick but Raya dived comfortably to his left to claim two-handed.
Then neat approach play from Forest saw Traore get in around the back, but his poked effort across the box went wide of goal.
Needing a goal from somewhere Rovers sent on Anthony Stokes for Liam Feeney, and ten minutes later Lucas Joao joined the fray as he replaced Sam Gallagher.
And in the 78th minute the only goal of the game duly arrived from the unlikely figure of Tommie Hoban. After Williams had worked hard to win a corner on the right. Mahoney sent the ball high the back post to where Hoban headed home.
The defender celebrated his first Rovers goal in front of the 1600 travelling faithful.
Another Mahoney corner some seven minutes later almost netted the same result, but on this occasion Hoban couldn't get a meaningful connection and Smith made the save.
But it was at the other end were Rovers were grateful for a fantastic save from David Raya. The young Spaniard had relatively little to do during the match but he was alert to the danger as substitute Britt Assombalonga turned in the six-yard box to make a point-blank stop.
The hosts pressed for a late leveller, but as often was the case this afternoon, Forest were wasteful in possession. That allowed the Rovers to see out the remaining with comparative.
It's now back to Ewood Park this Monday afternoon and another huge match against Bristol City.
FOREST: Smith, Lichaj, Mills (sub Mancienne 46 mins), Traore, Cohen, Osborn, Clough, Ward (sub Assombalonga 72 mins), Vaughan (sub Cash 61 mins), Worrall, Brereton.
Subs not used: Evtimov (GK), Carayol, Lam, Vellios.
Booked: Traore 11 mins, Osborn 77 mins.
ROVERS: Raya, Nyambe, Ward, Hoban, Williams, Mahoney, Lowe (c), Akpan, Feeney (sub Stokes 63 mins), Bennett, Gallagher (sub Joao 72 mins).
Subs not used: Fisher (GK), Emnes, Guthrie, Tomlinson, Brown.
Goals: Hoban 78 mins.
Booked: Ward 53 mins, Williams 65 mins, Bennett 74 mins, Joao 90+4 mins.
Attendance: 26,279 (including 1638 Rovers fans).