Football: Rochdale 1 - 2 Bristol Rovers

Date published: 04 November 2019

Bristol Rovers survived a second half onslaught as they hung on for victory against Rochdale at the Crown Oil Arena. The visitors scored two quick-fire goals early in the first half with Callum Camps halving the deficit just before half-time. Rochdale dominated the second half but couldn’t find the equaliser their play probably deserved.

With Aaron Wilbraham suspended, Ian Henderson returned to the starting line-up whilst Luke Matheson, who this week put pen to paper on his first professional contract, was preferred at right back with Jimmy Keohane dropping to the bench.

Bristol Rovers arrived at the Crown Oil Arena after a mixed start to the season and it was they who took the lead after just eight minutes. Liam Sercombe’s left wing corner was headed back into the mix by Tony Craig and as Callum Camp’s attempted to clear; Victor Adeboyejo nipped in to score from close range.

1-0 became 2-0 less than three minutes later when Eoghan O’Connell put through his own net. MJ Williams was dispossessed in the centre of the field with the ball eventually worked out to Michael Kelly. The full back whipped in a teasing cross that was diverted in off the post by O’Connell in his attempt to block.

That seemingly woke up Rochdale who started to impose themselves on the game and came close to a goal through captain Ian Henderson. The leading scorer broke through and when he dropped his shoulder to create space; he sent a curling effort towards the bottom left hand corner that was brilliantly tipped away by Jaakkola.

Henderson came close again a few minutes later; a beautifully weighted pass over the top from Morley meant the keeper couldn’t commit himself with Henderson agonisingly close to getting a touch as he slid in.

There was a stoppage in play as assistant referee Helen Byrne had to be replaced by the fourth official because of an injury and the break in play seemingly helped Dale as they got back to within one goal on the stroke of half-time. Some wonderful football through midfield saw Matheson in space on the right. His centre ball was laid off by Rathbone to Camps whose half volley nestled into the bottom right hand corner.

The second half was all Dale as they searched for an equaliser. Rekeil Pyke almost levelled within 60 seconds of coming on as a substitute; his turn and shot had power although it was straight at Jaakkola.

The goalkeeper breathed a sigh of relief with 18 minutes left to play when Ollie Rathbone’s swerving shot seemingly hit him on the shoulder and bounced wide for a corner whilst from the flag kick; the home fans were crying for a penalty. The ball was only partially cleared and when Rathbone’s shot was blocked, the fans screamed for a penalty that was waved away by referee Martin Coy.

Barry-Murphy’s side ramped up the pressure with Jaakkola a lucky man once more when he denied Henderson. Matheson driven cross was turned at goal by Henderson with the stopper somehow blocking the effort despite not knowing where the ball had gone.

Jaakkola was certainly the visitors man-of-the-match and with ten minutes to go he once again denied Henderson. Another curling effort was punched away at full stretch by the former Reading goalkeeper and his performance earned his side three points.

Rochdale: Lynch, Matheson, O’Connell, McShane, Norrington-Davies, MJ Williams (Pyke 62), Morley, Camps, Rathbone (Andrew 81), Done (Tavares 71), Henderson ©
Substitutes: (not used) Wade, Keohane, Ryan, Bradley

Bristol: Jaakkola, Little, Kilgour, Craig, Kelly, Clarke ©, Ogogo, Upson (Leahy 71), Sercombe, Rodman (Menayese 86), Adeboyejo (Smith 81)
Substitutes: (not used) Van Stappershoef, Bennett, Hargreaves, Nichols

Referee: Mr M Coy
Assistants: Mr D Benton & Mrs H Byrne
Fourth Official: Mr B Smallwood

Attendance: 3,038 (350 from Bristol)

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