Football: Rochdale 1 - 1 Bristol Rovers
Date published: 01 November 2020
Crown Oil Arena
Rochdale extended their unbeaten run to four games with a hard-fought draw at home to Bristol Rovers on Saturday (31 October). The visitors took the lead in the ninth minute when a mistake from Jimmy Ryan allowed Sam Nicholson a run at goal when he drilled in a low shot past Gavin Bazunu.
Dale drew level midway through the first half when Alex Newby raced onto a ball over the top of the visitors’ defence to lash in his third of the season. Aaron Morley crashed a shot from distance off the crossbar whilst Bazunu was forced into a couple of good stops in the second half but for the second game in succession it was a share of the spoils for Dale.
After the magnificent game on Tuesday night against Sunderland (27 October), Brian Barry-Murphy opted for the same starting line-up with Ryan McLaughlin keeping his place at right back. Jay Lynch and Stephen Dooley returned to the matchday squad after missing the last couple of games.
On a very wet and windy afternoon at the Crown Oil Arena, the summer pitch renovations showed its worth with a pitch that looked as good at the end of the game as it did at the start; in fact the sprinkler system was on prior to kick-off despite the large amount of rain that fell in the run up to kick-off.
Bristol Rovers took the lead with their first real attack after a mistake from Jimmy Ryan. The midfielder turned into trouble just inside his own half with Sam Nicholson nipping into take the ball. The former Colorado Rapids star raced at goal before firing a low shot into the bottom corner.
Dale pushed for an instant response and Jake Beesley should have done better when he headed a Aaron Morley free-kick at goal; the striker seeing the ball fly over the bar.
Matt Lund did well to keep a volley on target when a defensive header landed kindly; Anssi Jaakkola equal to anything Lund threw at him.
It didn’t take long though for Dale to draw level. Captain Eoghan O’Connell’s measured ball over the Bristol defence was perfect for Newby who allowed the ball to bounce before firing a volley into the net.
The home side came mightily close to taking the lead ten minutes before the break through Aaron Morley. A free-kick was punched away by Jaakkola with the ball worked back to Morley who swung a first time effort at goal from way out which caught the keeper off his line; the ball crashed off the crossbar and out for a goal-kick.
The second half didn’t have the same intensity as the first with chances few and far between. A neat ball over the top after Rovers failed to clear a corner convincingly saw O’Connell with a sight of goal but the skipper blazed over from the left corner of the six yard box.
At the other end, Bazunu had to stay alert when he got down to make a couple of stops from Brandon Hanlan and Zain Westbrooke.
A draw in the end was probably a fair result which leaves both sides in mid table heading into the midweek round of fixtures.
Rochdale: Bazunu, McLaughlin (Keohane 81), O’Connell ©, Roberts, Bola, Morley (Tavares 79), Lund, Ryan (Dooley 49), Beesley, Rathbone, Newby
Substitutes: (not used) Lynch, McNulty, Done, Brierley
Bristol: Jaakkola, Ehmer ©, Baldwin, Harries, Hare, Tutobda (Leahy 61), Grant, Westbrooke, Nicholson (McCormick 79), Daly (Mitchell-Lawson 72), Hanlon
Substitutes: (not used) Van Stappershoet, Kilgour, Upson, Oztumer
Referee: Mr S Martin
Assistants: Mr M Dwyer & Mr J Wilson
Fourth Official: Mr A Fox
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