(Johnson, 8)

Rovers’ post-January slump continues, as Preston North End completed the double over them this season with a 1-0 win at Ewood Park.

The only goal of the game came in the eighth minute courtesy of Daniel Johnson’s left footed finish.

For all Rovers’ possession, the closest they came to an equaliser was when Presto midfielder Ryan Ledson also put an Amari’i Bell cross beyond his own goalkeeper.

It is now seven games without a win for Rovers, who have won just one point during that run, and quickly slipping down the Championship table.

The Rovers team showed three changes, with recalls for Harrison Reed, Corry Evans and Derrick Williams, after suspension.

Jack Rodwell missed out through injury as Tony Mowbray switched to a back three.

Rovers enjoyed a bright start and had an opening seven minutes in when Bradley Dack sent Adam Armstrong away down the left, though lacking support, he had to go for goal himself and shot drifted wide of the far post.

A new look Rovers backline was breached with Preston’s first attack however, as the visitors took an eighth minute lead. Lukas Nmecha was too quick, and strong, for Williams as he broke down the right and his pull back ran in to the path of the on-rushing Johnson whose shot found the roof of the net.

Rovers were trying to play off Danny Graham as much as possible, and he got across his marker to meet an Adam Armstrong delivery, on to flash his header straight in to the arms of Declan Rudd.

Preston looked the happier of the two teams in their 4-1-4-1 set up, and it was midfielder Alan Browne who fired their next attempt at goal, but his 20 yard strike was watched over the bar by David Raya.

The visitors seemed happy to concede territory, and deal with any balls in to their box, as they remained unmoved from several passages of Rovers play in their attacking third.

A Charlie Mulgrew corner met by Graham ended with Richie Smallwood having an effort blocked, one of several knockdowns from the striker which failed to bring about a clear chance at goal.

Graham would go close himself in the 23rd minute however, getting on the end of a deep cross from Evans, with Rudd palming his looping header behind from a corner. From that, Mulgrew went close to another goal direct from a right wing delivery, narrowly missing the far post, much to the relief of the Preston defence.

Crosses kept coming in to the Preston box, without success, though Bradley Dack did meet a Bennett delivery in the 32nd minute, but trying to generate power on his header, couldn’t keep it on target.

The wing back would have a go at goal himself in the final stages of the first half, only to blast over, after a lengthy spell of Rovers pressure.

That meant Rovers went a sixth consecutive first half without a goal.

Their search for one in the second half saw Armstrong get his head to a Mulgrew cross, but with a crowd of bodies on the line, Darnell Fisher was there to clear.

Raya had been relatively untroubled in the opening 50 minutes but had to show good handling on two occasions in a matter of minutes. The first saw him clutch on to a dangerous Sean Maguire cross under pressure from two waiting attackers. Then, he had to be smart to keep out a Paul Gallagher shot after Preston countered quickly through Browne.

For all of their play in the Preston half, Rovers were struggling to test Rudd, and that theme continued when Smallwood picked out an unmarked Bennett at the far post, but off balance, he couldn’t get the right connection to turn it on target.

Referee Oliver Langford was becoming an unpopular figure with the home fans, and only angered them more 20 minutes from time. Graham was put through by Smallwood, and looked to have held off his marker, John Storey, before firing beyond Rudd. The referee saw it otherwise, and penalised the striker for a foul.

When Mulgrew was then forced off injured, Rovers made a double switch, introducing Amari’i Bell and Joe Rothwell.

The pair combined 13 minutes from time to force an excellent save from Rudd, though not how they would have planned. Rothwell fed the full back whose cross was turned goalwards by the retreating Ryan Ledson, with Rudd at full stretch to keep the ball out at his near post.

A lack of quality in the final third however saw Rovers fail to make the most of their countless forays forward, as Preston continued to thwart any balls in to the box that did arrive.

Dack tried his luck from 20 yards, with his effort blocked by Fisher, after several corners failed to produce a chance.

A chance for the visitors in the final minute could have made the game safe, but Browne’s free header from a Johnson corner was kept out on the line.

In Rovers’ quest for an equalising goal in five additional minutes, Darnell Fisher was shown his second yellow card and sent off.

That came after Armstrong went close to an equaliser, when connecting with Williams’ scuffed shot, but only in to the arms of Rudd.

Rovers: Raya, Nyambe, Mulgrew (Bell, 71), Williams, Reed (Nuttall, 62), Smallwood (Rothwell, 71), Evans, Bennett, Armstrong, Dack, Graham

Subs: Leutwiler,Travis, Conway, Brereton

Preston: Rudd, Fisher, Davies, Storey, Hughes, Ledson, Gallagher (Stockley, 77), Johnson, Brown, Maguire (Barker, 83), Nmecha (Rafferty, 90)

Subs: Crowe, Earl, Ginnelly, Huntington