Rovers lost for a fourth successive game, and for a 13th time this season, as they left Nottingham Forest empty handed.

Alex Mighten scored the only goal of the game, his deflected effort in the 24th minute proving to be the difference between the sides at the City Ground.

Rovers passed up a golden chance to equalise in the second half when Adam Armstrong’s spot-kick 18 minutes from time, after Ryan Nyambe had been fouled, was saved.

Brice Samba conceded the penalty, but would be the Forest hero soon after as he guessed right to palm away Armstrong’s penalty and denying him a 20th Championship goal of the season.

It means that only goal difference keeps Rovers in the top half of the Championship, leading the pack of three teams sat on 39 points.

The response to the defeat at Barnsley was five changes, with captain Darragh Lenihan missing out with a rib injury, while Barry Douglas was only fit enough for the bench.

Adam Armstrong was named captain, with recalls for Ryan Nyambe, Amari’i Bell, Jacob Davenport, Harvey Elliott and Ben Brereton.

Brereton, returning to his former club, looked keen to impress and was involved in much of the early action.

That was after Taylor Harwood-Bellis made an imprint on the game, a thunderous challenge from behind earning him a yellow card inside 90 seconds.

Brereton had the game’s first two attempts, a fourth minute header from an Elliott free kick easily saved by Brice Samba, while a curling effort in the 11th minute was easily gathered by the Forest ‘keeper.

While Rovers were quickest to settle,, Forest would soon come to have the better of it, Anthony Knockaert at the heart of everything good they did.

And but for an excellent Nyambe clearance, Forest would have been ahead in the 14th minute. The Frenchman broke into the box before leaving two Rovers defenders on the floor, his shot beating Thomas Kaminski but not the covering Nyambe who headed off the goal line.

It was from a Knockaert free kick that the hosts would take a 26th minute lead. His delivery to the far post was won by Nyambe, winger Mighten getting to the loose ball ahead of Lewis Travis, his shot deflecting off the Rovers midfielder and beyond Kaminski from the edge of the area.

It was almost 2-0 on the half hour mark, Knockaert again delivering from the right with the ball dropping to Glenn Murray whose shot across goal narrowly missed the far post.

The better chances may have been going the way of Forest but Rovers, while requiring more care in possession, were creating chances.

Sam Gallagher volleyed over inside the box from a chipped Elliott pass, while Travis’ tame effort didn’t test Samba when teed up by Armstrong from the edge of the box.

Brereton scuffed another shot wide, before both teams were denied by the woodwork on the stroke of half-time.

Another dangerous Knockaert free kick was glanced goalwards by James Garner, flicking the bar on its way over.

And Rovers would go even closer seconds before the break as Armstrong cut in from the left and thumped an effort goalwards, and with Samba beaten, he was relieved to see the ball crash off the post and bounce out.

Rovers made a change at the break, Bradley Dack on in place of Gallagher as Elliott moved out to the right in a switch to 4-2-3-1.

Midfield duo Garner and Krovinovic fired wayward efforts goalwards at the start of the second half while Rovers were wasteful around the box after some good approach play.

Armstrong was always looking to get shots off when he could, and he didn’t need any encouragement to fire goawlards after a poor Joe Worrall clearance in the 55th minute, a powerful strike on his left foot in which Samba took no chances when parrying it away.

Whether it be a shortage of men in the box, or not enough quality with the final ball, Rovers were struggling to make the most of their territory.

Tyrhys Dolan was Rovers’ second change, replacing Ben Brereton.

Armstrong’s shot on turn was a neat idea, but didn’t test Samba, while a number of set pieces came and went without a chance being created.

While Rovers were having the better of the ball, it was Forest who came closest to scoring. Christie, coming forward from right back, thumped an effort goalwards, Kaminski tipping the ball onto the post, while Lyle Taylor, on the stretch, couldn’t put the rebound into the empty net.

It looked like that would prove to be a big miss, as within seconds, Rovers won a penalty. Nyambe, forward from right back, was floored by goalkeeper Samba, but the Forest man would soon redeem himself. He guessed right, diving away to his right, to keep out Armstrong’s 72nd minute spot-kick.

Armstrong would have fancied putting that disappointment to one side as he stood over a free kick 20 yards out, but he couldn’t get it on target, as Rovers began to run out of time.

There was more injury woe by the final whistle, Ryan Nyambe pulling up, holding his hamstring, as Rovers pressed for a late equaliser.

Nottingham Forest: Samba, Christie, Worrall, Figueiredo, Ribeiro, Garner, Cafu (Yates, 69), Knockaert (Blackett, 87) Krovinovic, Mighten (Freeman, 69), Murray (Taylor, 59)

Subs: Smith, Mbe Soh, Colback, Jenkinson, Lolley

Rovers: Kaminski, Nyambe (Bennett, 90), Harwood-Bellis, Branthwaite, Bell, Travis (Rothwell, 86), Davenport (Buckley, 86), Elliott, Gallagher (Dack, 46) Brereton  (Dolan, 64), Armstrong

Subs: Pears, Downing, Douglas, Evans