Rovers Under-23s returned to winning ways in Premier League 2, as Okera Simmonds’ first goal for the club earned all three points at Stoke City on Saturday.
Played at Stoke’s home ground, the bet365 Stadium, the hosts included Saido Berhino and Kevin Wimmer in their lineup, whose prices combined totalled £30m.
A fast start from Rovers saw Damien Johnson’s side take the lead inside the opening three minutes, as Simmonds' strike deflected in and past City stopper Josef Bursik.
Rovers were awaiting a Stoke response, which didn’t come until the 18th minute, as Jacob Twyford blazed well over Andy Fisher’s upright.
Fisher was called into action soon after when he denied Berahino from finding an equaliser, whilst up the other end, Lewis Mansell went close to adding to Rovers’ tally but could only prod wide of the target after being picked out by John Buckley.
Stoke came again and Cameron McJannet kept Fisher busy, with the stopper forced into a low save before half time.
After the break, Mansell could have extended Rovers’ advantage but again was wasteful after latching onto Jack Evans’ good cross.
It was an entertaining game, and after Berahino fed Ryan Hill with a lovely pass, the Stoke youngster could only first into the side-netting rather than between the posts.
A few more home chances followed, but Rovers defended resolutely, and Fisher now has five clean sheets in his last five outings, helping Johnson’s charges to continue their assault on the title.
Stoke: Bursik, Edwards, McJannet, Sorensen, Banks, Wimmer, Twyford (Hill, 46), Shenton, Berahino, Jarvis (Pemberton, 16), Szereto, (Greenidge, 46).
Unused substitutes: Allen, Collins.
Rovers: Fisher, Carter, Evans, Tomlinson, Magloire, Doyle, Buckley, Hardcastle (c), Mansell, Simmonds, Vale.
Unused substitutes: Thompson, Albinson, Barnes, Dolan, Wilson.