Football: Bristol Rovers 3 - 2 Rochdale

Date published: 13 February 2018

A superb strike from Bristol Rovers midfielder Chris Lines condemned Dale to defeat on the road at the Memorial Stadium. Lines struck with eleven minutes to go to end Rochdale’s mini revival that has seen them unbeaten in the previous three games. 

Ian Henderson had given Rochdale a half time lead when he bundled the ball home the ball from close range. 

Rovers started the second half very brightly and got back on level terms when Liam Sercombe capitalised on a defensive mistake to slot home. 

Joe Partington headed Rovers in front but the lead only lasted just over a minute.

Henderson again netting from close range after good work from substitute Bradden Inman. 

With Dale searching for a winner, another defensive mistake allowed Byron Moore to pull the ball back across the edge of the area to Lines who smashed an unstoppable shot into the top corner. 

Defeat see’s Dale drop to the bottom of the league table ahead of their money spinning FA Cup tie against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

Dale manager Keith Hill made two changes from the side that beat Millwall in the fourth round replay. Calvin Andrew missed out through injury, and Stephen Humphrys made his first start since his loan move from Fulham. Scott Wiseman returned to the starting eleven after missing the FA Cup game due to being cup tied.

Rochdale almost took the lead as early as the fourth minute when Callum Camps 35 yard effort was spilled by Adam Smith with Henderson quickly in, but Smith was bravely out to block, although he took a  nasty knock which resulted in a six minute stoppage.

The opening goal came just before the half hour mark. A dangerous ball from the right found Henderson inside the six yard box, which he controlled before bundling over the line.

Dale controlled the majority of the first half.

Henderson headed narrowly wide and his strike partner Humphreys was denied by Smith.

Darrel Clarke’s half time team talk certainly buoyed Rovers as they came ot looking much better after the interval and drew level soon after. A quick counter attack down the left, the ball played across the goal, which was missed by McNulty, and Liam Sercombe running in behind to slot in.

Rovers took the lead just after the hour mark when Chris Lines’ right wing free kick was glanced in by full back Joe Partington.

The lead did not last long as Dale went straight up the other end to equalise. Good work from Inman down the right earned him space for a cross and Henderson was on hand to turn the ball at goal. His first attempt was saved by the keeper but Henderson’s persistence saw him force the ball over the line. 

A point at this stage would have been welcomed by Dale one but it was not to be as they conceded a stunning third. A quickly taken free kick down the right saw Done caught out and when a low ball was played across the area, Lines was rushing onto it to steer the ball into the top corner.

The defeat was tough on Dale who deserved something from the game but individual errors cost them again.

Bristol Rovers: Adams, Partington, Craig, Broadbent, Brown (Bola 57), Sercombe, Lines, Sinclair, Clarke (Moore 73), Nichols (Bennett 73), Gaffney
Subs: (not used) Slocombe, Sweeney, Telford, Mensah

Rochdale: Lillis, Rafferty, Wiseman, McNulty, Delaney, Done, Camps, Kitching (Thompson 71), Cannon (Knott 71), Henderson (c), Humphrys (Inman 60)
Subs: (not used) Moore, McGahey, Rathbone, Hart

Referee: Mr C Sarginson
Assistants: Mr R Cheosiaua and Mr A Waters
Fourth Official: Mr K Johnson

Attendance: 9,219 (126 from Rochdale)

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