(Cairney, 35) (Mitrovic, 82)



Rovers are still waiting for their first points of the season, after defeat at Fulham, courtesy of goals from Tom Cairney and Aleksandr Mitrovic.

The scoreline flattered the hosts somewhat, with Rovers having put in a much improved display than on the opening day against Charlton.

A stunning 25-yarder from Cairney 10 minutes before the break, and Mitrovic tap-in eight minutes from time however, consigned Rovers to a second successive defeat.

Rovers had their chances, with Sam Gallagher, Adam Armstrong and Bradley Johnson all going close, but a failure to draw a save from Marcus Bettinelli will be a real disappointment given the amount of possession they had.

The Rovers team showed three changes, with a debut for Tosin Adarabioyo as Darragh Lenihan and Ryan Nyambe were both ruled out through injury.

Derrick Williams partnered the Manchester City loanee with Joe Rothwell preferred to Stewart Downing.

Inside 20 seconds, Rovers had their first opening of the game as Bradley Johnson turned wide an Armstrong cross.

In their new third kit, there was plenty of early encouragement for Rovers with Bradley Dack seeing a shot deflected wide in the sixth minute.

Frustration was growing in the home stands, now least with Fulham’s obsession with playing out from the back.

And they were indebted to a Harry Arter block to deny Johnson’s shot from inside the box after more good work down the Rovers right.

Aleksandr Mitrovic had been an isolated figure at the head of their attack, and almost put through his own net when wildly slashing at an Elliott Bennett free kick. Fortunately for the Serbian, the ball flew over the bar.

Rovers were having to remained focused at the back given the quality the hosts possessed in the final third.

Adarabioyo did well to block an Anthony Knockaert cross, before two chances in a matter of minutes saw Christian Walton extended.

Mitrovic took advantage of indecision over a bouncing ball to fire wide, while Knockaert went even closer with a strike from 20 yards.

The two combined moments later, as after Amari’i Bell was caught out of possession, Knockaert’s shot was blocked, with Mitrovic acrobatically volleying over the looping ball.

Then came the opening goal, 10 minutes before the break in what was an open half.

A neat pass found Cairney in space, and he had time to pick his spot from 25 yards, his curling effort nestling in the top corner.

Sprits weren’t dampened in the Rovers camp though as Armstrong continued to get more joy down the right. A late break allowed Bennett to cross for Sam Gallagher to glance a header wide.

Fulham continued to play a risk game out from the back which almost allowed Rovers to level eight minutes after the re-start. Armstrong was found by Dack and drilled a shot narrowly wide of the far post with Marcus Bettinelli beaten.

Stand-in skipper Bennett was to the rescue at the other end, his vital interception stopping Ivan Cavaleiro from rounding the advancing Walton before Arter blasted wide from 20 yards.

Things had gone a little flat as Ben Brereton replaced Joe Rothwell and playing on the break, Fulham looked a danger.

Knockaert was getting closer as he sent another effort just wide when cutting back inside on to his left foot.

Rovers did draw a fine save from Bettinelli, as he clawed away Dack’s strike, but the offside flag had already been raised.

As Tony Mowbray made his remaining two substitutions, Rovers  ended the game with four strikers on the pitch and Bradley Dack in central midfield.

It almost paid dividends as Bennett crossed to the far post where Gallagher guided a header towards the far post, only for it to loop just wide.

With eight minutes to go, the game was  put beyond doubt. Joe Bryan drove forward down the left and somehow managed to squeeze the ball across goal where Mitrovic was able to turn in from three yards.

It could have been worse for Rovers two minutes from time, only for Bobby Decordova-Reid to somehow fire wide from eight yards as the home fans prepared to celebrate a debut goal.

Fulham: Betinelli, Odoi, Mawson, Johansen (Decordova-Reid, 62), Mitrovic, Cairney, Ream, Arter, Cavaleiro (Reed, 79), Bryan, Knockaert (Le Marchand, 84)

Subs: Rodak, McDonald, Ayite, Christie

 Rovers: Walton, Bennett, Adarabioyo, Williams, Bell (Downing, 71), Travis (Graham, 74), Johnson, Rothwell (Brereton, 65), Dack, Armstrong, Gallagher

Subs: Leutwiler, Evans, Platt, Buckley