Fulham are no strangers to a slow start at Craven Cottage – they have after all won just two of their last 11 opening home matches to a campaign.
However, that trend was well and truly bucked on a ridiculously windy day on the Thames as the home crowd were treated to the performance they were so keen to see following their opening day defeat at Barnsley.
Scott Parker captained the Whites when they were last relegated to the second-tier in 2014 but, now in the dug-out, it was his choice of skipper who set the match alight against Rovers.
Following a post-free-kick melee, the ball eventually trickled out to Tom Cairney. His intentions were immediately apparent. Two perfect touches followed. One to control the ball and the other to send a glorious strike looping into the top-right corner.
Christian Walton in the Rovers goals must have known he was beaten the moment the ball left the midfielder’s left-boot, but he dived for it anyway, although hands twice the size would not have stopped that strike nestling in the net.
There had been plenty of frustration among the home fans prior to that moment of magic. Parker’s insistence on playing out from the back is one that is largely admired at the club but with Tim Ream and Alfie Mawson playing upwards of three passes between themselves after every goalkick, tempers were beginning to fray.
After an opening day defeat of their own, however, Rovers were looking for redemption as well.
And they could sense that trepidation in the Fulham defence too. The energetic trio of Bradley Dack, Joe Rothwell and Adam Armstrong gave the duo hell throughout the first-half and broke beyond the backline on more than one occasion, but Sam Gallagher remained frustrated with the final pass.
With no changes at half-time things cotinued in much the same way, although a crisp strike from Armstrong had Marcus Bettinelli worried.
But the minutes ticked by and despite looking shaky, the Fulham defence held firm as Rovers tired. Bobby Reid was introduced just after the hour mark – just in case Mitrovic, Cavaleiro and the excellent Knockaert were not enough to concern Mowbray’s men.
Danny Graham and Ben Brereton were both thrown on in the hope of finding an equaliser but with the Rovers attack now devoid of energy, chances were very much at a premium.
And eventually, Fulham’s class told. Joe Bryan had been surprisingly quiet in an attacking sense but his first forray of note down the left yielded the second goal of the game.
Some excellent persistence from the former Bristol City man eventually led to a cross, the sort that Mitrovic no doubt dreams of regularly, and the Serbian fired the second goal of the game into the empty net.
The other former Robin in the Fulham side should have made it three later on as well, but he lashed his shot just wide following a flick on from Mitrovic.
But it was not a chance they were made to regret. Fulham up to 11th for now and bouncing back impressively. For Rovers, however, the wait for three points goes on as they prop-up the table.Like what the FLW have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!