Rochdale 3 - 4 Bristol Rovers
Date published: 02 May 2022
Luke Charman scored a brace against Bristol Rovers
Rochdale fell to defeat in their final home game of the 2021/22 season, after Bristol Rovers scored four second half goals to come from behind and claim the three points.
Luke Charman had given Dale a 2-0 lead going into the break but Sam Finley halved the deficit nine minutes into the second half. Corey O’Keeffe restored Rochdale’s two-goal cushion on the hour, before Aaron Collins got Rovers back into the game again six minutes later. Collins equalised in the 89th minute, before completing his hat-trick deep in stoppage time to win it.
There were three changes to the side that lined-up against Exeter City last weekend. Emergency loan goalkeeper Jake Eastwood replaced the injured Jay Lynch in goal, while Ethan Brierley, who was recalled from his loan spell at Spennymoor Town on Friday, went straight into the starting eleven, replacing Abraham Odoh. Corey O’Keeffe came in for Jimmy McNulty.
Rochdale were superb in the first half and took a well-deserved 2-0 lead into the break.
It was all Dale during the opening 45 minutes and Charman netted his first (and second) goal for the club to put the side ahead at the interval.
A couple of minutes into the match Conor Grant tested first, forcing James Belshaw to get behind his powerful strike from 20-yards.
In a rare sight on goal, the Gas probably had the best chance of the half so far, when Aaron Collins struck wide of the target as the goal gaped in front of him from a ball to the back post.
Charman broke the deadlock sixty seconds later. Grant sent him on his way with a sublime through ball and as cool as you like, after striding forward, slotted beyond Belshaw.
Dale were on the ascendancy and the players streamed forward again in numbers soon after, with Jimmy Keohane clipping the ball to the back post for Max Clark who had a volley blocked.
Rochdale were 2-0 up on 17 minutes. Stephen Dooley broke up the middle of the park and played in O’Keeffe who did superbly well on the right before clipping the ball to the back post Charman to cushion home a volley from close range.
Brierley then hit over from distance, while the visitors’ Antony Evans fired over from a ball to the back post.
Soon after, Grant sent O’Keeffe up the right again and he hit over the bar from an acute angle.
Rovers rallied as the half entered its final stages, but the resolute Rochdale stood firm limiting them to just one opportunity which saw Connor Taylor narrowly heading wide a cross that came in from the right.
It was probably to be expected that promotion hopefuls Bristol Rovers would come out for the second half looking to take the game to Rochdale, and Finley fired wide from 25-yards shortly after the restart.
Dale were going toe-to-toe with them, though, and Charman was in on goal soon after, firing over the bar after turning and shooting on the edge of the area.
But the Gas halved the deficit nine minutes into the second half. After being unable to get the ball clear as the visitors closed in on goal, Finley finished from close range
Rochdale responded superbly to conceding and they restored their two-goal cushion on the hour. Matty Done did brilliantly to keep the ball alive inside the area before playing it back to O'Keeffe who has an initial shot blocked before firing home the rebound.
Eastwood got behind an Evans well-struck effort, beating it away, as the visitors tested soon after.
Moments later they netted their second of the afternoon. Evans sent the ball low across the face of goal for Collins to tap home from close range.
There was a doubled change in the 73rd minute, when Done and Clark made way for Danny Cashman and Aidy White.
Seven minutes after his introduction Cashman battled his way in on goal but he couldn’t keep his effort down and and fired over the bar.
Bristol Rovers equalised in the 89 minute - Collins finished across goal and into the far bottom corner.
As the board went up for six minutes of stoppage time, Charman struck across goal and narrowly wide of the upright.
The frontman went off injured soon after and was replaced by Josh Andrew.
Deep in stoppage time, Anderson tapped home from close range to win it for the Gas.
In the aftermath, when Dale won a corner soon after, Paul Coutts was shown a straight red card as tensions rose high.
Report courtesy of rochdaleafc.co.uk
Rochdale: Eastwood, Keohane, O'Connell, Taylor, O'Keeffe, Brierley, Dooley, Clark (White 74), Done (Cashman 74), Grant, Charman (Andrews 90+2)
Substitutes: (not used) Newby, Odoh, Kelly, Scanlon
Bristol Rovers: Belshaw, Hoole (Nicholson 78), Taylor (Loft 74), Connolly, Grant (Thomas 35), Coutts, Anderson, Evans, Finley, Anderson, Collins
Substitutes: (not used) Anderton, Whelan, Jaakkola, Rodman
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