A CONTROVERSIAL goal on the stroke of half-time condemned Rovers to an opening day defeat at a sun-kissed Ewood Park.

Wolves went in front in the 30th minute through a smart Benik Afobe finish but they were pegged back nine minutes later when goalkeeper Carl Ikeme touched the ball into his own goal following a deflected Craig Conway shot.

However they scored what proved to be the winner in the 45th minute when David Edwards turned the ball into the net with his hand.

Afterwards Wolves manager Kenny Jackett admitted it was a handball.

That will do little to placate his counterpart Gary Bowyer, who said before the match that his biggest selection posers were in goal and at centre-back.

In the end he went with teenager David Raya between the posts and captain Grant Hanley and Shane Duffy at the heart of the defence.

And Raya was called into action in the first minute, showing a safe pair of hands after Hanley had sliced a Dominic Iorfa cross dangerously toward his own goal.

But it was Rovers who were faster out of the traps and just two minutes later Jordan Rhodes went within a whisker of breaking the deadlock.

Kortney Hause lost possession in the middle of the field, allowing Marshall to slip a pass through to the striker, who took a touch before crashing a superbly struck 20-yard rising drive against the post.

Marshall, after good hold-up play by Rhodes, then dragged the ball past the upright, before Shane Duffy went closer still with a header from a Markus Olsson cross that the backpedalling Ikeme tipped over.

Conway and debutant Danny Guthrie then skewed efforts well wide as Rovers continued to threaten a breakthrough.

But as the half wore Wolves began to see more and more of the ball.

It still came against the run of play, though, when they opened the scoring with their first attempt on target.

A long ball forward was flicked on inadvertently by Guthrie into the path of Edwards, who played a deft, first-time headed pass to Afobe which split the Rovers defence.

Raya raced out of his goal but the 19-year-old could do nothing to prevent the forward from guiding the ball past him and into the empty net.

If that was exquisite, what followed next was farcical, as Rovers levelled.

After debutant Nathan Delfouneso drove at the Wolves defence, the ball broke to Conway, whose side-footed shot took an almighty nick off Richard Stearman and looped toward goal.

Ikeme touched the ball on to the bar, only for it to hit him again on the way down and trickle over the line, with Rhodes waiting to pounce.

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Parity, however, lasted just six minutes.

Nouha Dicko, who had earlier hit the post, cut in from the left and tried his luck with an effort that Raya would have gathered comfortably had Edwards not got the faintest of touches – with his hand.

A stunned Raya, who clearly expected referee Mark Haywood to signal for a foul, could only watch on as the ball hit his arm and flew into net.

Edwards, meanwhile, sheepishly walked away to celebrate.

The officials were booed off at the break as Hanley remonstrated with them all the way down the tunnel.

And it would have got worse for Rovers two minutes after the restart had Afobe, under pressure from Duffy, been able to convert a low cross from Iorfa.

But, while Adam Henley had a big penalty appeal turned down after he went down under a challenge from Scott Golbourne in the area, that was it in terms of chances until the 70th minute when Rhodes wasted a glorious opportunity to equalise.

Delfouneso flicked a free kick into the path of the Scotland international, who outmuscled his marker in the box only to fire wide, although Ikeme may have got a touch.

Raya was beaten in the 76th minute but James Henry’s 20-yard dipping drive came back off the crossbar.

By that stage Bowyer had introduced Corry Evans and debutant Fode Koita, who was to make an impact.

In the five minutes of injury-time Koita saw Ikeme turn his terrific 20-yard left-footed attempt on to the post.

And from the resulting Conway corner, he headed the ball to the back post where Evans, on the stretch, was unable to force it over the line.

But Wolves held on to record a repeat of the result between the teams in the 2011-12 opener.

Rovers: Raya, Henley, Duffy, Hanley, Olsson, Lowe, Guthrie (Evans 75), Conway, Marshall, Delfouneso (Koita 75), Rhodes. Subs not used: Steele, Spurr, Kilgallon, Brown, Williamson.

Booked: Guthrie, Olsson.

Goal: Ikeme OG 39.

Wolves: Ikeme, Iorfa, Stearman, Hause, Golbourne, Henry (Doherty 90), McDonald, Coady, Edwards, Afobe (Le Fondre 90), Dicko (Ojo 84). Subs not used: McCarey, Ebanks-Landell, Price, van La Parra.

Booked: Iorfa, Henry, Ojo.                 

Goals: Afobe 30, Edwards 45.

Referee: Mark Haywood.

Attendance: 16,159 (3,596 away).