RUDY Gestede scored a first-half hat-trick of headers as Rovers returned to winning ways to move within two points of the play-offs with two games of the campaign remaining.

Recalled right-back Todd Kane was also on target in an utterly one-sided first half in which Gary Bowyer’s side raced into a four-goal lead.

Birmingham, who have now failed to win any of their last 16 matches at home, pulled two goals back after the break through substitutes Nikola Zigic and Demarai Gray.

But Rovers withstood Blues’ attempt to stage an unlikely fightback to record a first victory at St Andrew’s since 2003.


It was a victory which also extended their unbeaten league run to 10 games, the current longest in the Championship and the club’s longest since February 2001.

It may have come at a cost, however, as Jason Lowe picked up an ankle injury in the second half. The midfielder battled on – out of position up front – as Rovers had used all three of their substitutes.

It means Bowyer has injury concerns over nine first-team players going into Saturday’s trip to Charlton Athletic as Tommy Spurr (groin), Michael Keane (knee), Lee Williamson (neck), Tom Cairney (groin) and David Dunn (calf) all missed out with knocks picked up in Good Friday’s 0-0 home draw with Yeovil Town.

Rovers boss Bowyer, who was unhappy with the defending for Birmingham’s second-half goals, said: “I thought we did ever so well in the first half.

“We looked full of energy and the big man was a real handful. Everybody contributed massively.”

Bowyer was already without Ben Marshall (ankle), Dickson Etuhu (hamstring) and Adam Henley (ankle).

For a full report and reaction see tomorrow’s Lancashire Telegraph.

Birmingham: Randolph, Packwood, Thorpe, Blackett (Hancox 46), Reilly, Burke, Caddis, Huws, Howard (Zigic 29) Macheda, Lovenkrands (Gray 68). Subs not used: Doyle, Martin, Lee, Shinnie. Booked: Macheda, Reilly, Zigic. Goals: Zigic 63, Gray 84.

Rovers: Robinson, Kane, Hanley, Kilgallon, Olsson, King (Feeney 75), Evans, Lowe, Conway (Taylor 83), Rhodes, Gestede (Varney 59). Subs not used: Eastwood, Dabo, Lenihan, Rittenberg. Booked: Hanley. Goals: Gestede 10, 20, 45, Kane 24.

Referee: Mark Haywood. Attendance: 17,291 (1,001 away).