Bristol Rovers 2 -1 Rochdale

Date published: 16 October 2010

Rochdale fell to a third straight defeat going down 2-1 at the Memorial Stadium. A first half stoppage time penalty, after Marcus Holness was adjudged to have felled Jo Kuffour inside the area, changed Keith Hills half time team talk. Rochdale hit the post twice but couldn’t force an equaliser and Paul Trollope’s men doubled their advantage when a Campbell free kick wasn't cleared and Chris Lines curled home. The deficit was halved when Byron Anthony turned a Nicky Adams cross beyond his own keeper.

Dale boss Keith Hill made three changes to the side that lost to Yeovil last weekend. New loan signing Nicky Adams started ahead of Joe Thompson whilst Scott Wiseman returned from a four week injury absence at left back ahead of Josh Thompson. Jean Louis Akpa-Akpro picked up a thigh strain last week and missed out, Anthony Elding replaced.

Hills men started the game very brightly and really took the game to their hosts with O'Grady proving a real handful for the Rovers defence.

The first real chance of the game came the home side's way on 11 minutes. A poor clearance from the Dale back line found Hoskins on the edge of the box, but his scuffed volley almost fell to Hughes at the back post but the winger couldn't stretch enough and the ball went wide.

Defender Byron Anthony saw his diving header fly over just moments later.

Dale's first real sight of goal was on the quarter hour mark. Kennedy and O'Grady had a nice interchange of passes on the edge of the box with O'Grady side footing the ball over when he really should have hit the target.

Rochdale were having a really good spell and looking menacing down the right with Wiseman and Adams at the heart of everything good about Hill's men.

A raking Dawson ball across the pitch found Adams down the right, who beat the full back with ease but his cross was slightly over hit and Elding couldn't reach.

Wiseman and Adams linked up well again down the right with the debutant whipping a great cross in that Elding nodded back to O'Grady who in turn lifted the ball to Kennedy who tried an acrobatic overhead kick which Andersen saved comfortably.

Dale's first corner came at the mid way point through the first half. Barry-Murphy clipped the ball to back post where Kennedy knocked back for Elding but the former Stockport man didn't get a great connection and the ball hit the post and was cleared.

The home side weathered the Dale storm and looked dangerous on the counter attack. One such break lead to a corner which Jo Kuffour met with a glancing header when perhaps a little more conviction would have forced Lillis into a save.

Dale's counter attacking has been a part of their game since Hill and Flitcroft took charge.

A Jones break on the half hour mark almost led to the opening goal when he waited before releasing Kennedy, who really should have shot but he tried to play in Elding and the danger was averted.

O'Grady and Elding are showing signs of building a partnership and a flick by O'Grady found Elding, who dropped his shoulder before unleashing a vicious shot that was blocked when looking likely to trouble Andersen.

The opening goal came just as the fourth official was showing the added time. Holness challenged Kuffour (in the box) who went to ground and referee Pawson pointed straight to the spot. The Dale players didn't seem to complain too much and Jeff Hughes stepped up to take the spot kick. Hughes opted for placement and Lillis guessed the right way but couldn't quite keep it out and the ball squirmed over the line. It was a blow to Hill's men and it gave Rovers an undeserved half time lead.

Dale came out for the second half and still looked shell-shocked with the home side pressing the visitors back. Regan got to the by-line within two minutes of the re-start but Lines' weak header was wide.

As the game approached the hour mark Dale started to get back into the game. Elding sent a header wide from eight yards and had another shot blocked when he got sight of Andersen's goal.

Dale had to defend resolutely at times and when Hoskins turned Dawson, Holness had to cover and block the former Oldham man's shot.

The move of the game came on 77 minutes when Charlie Reece lofted a great ball to Hoskins who, with his head, took the ball beyond Dawson and smashed a volley just over Lillis' goal.

A double change by Hill saw Joe Thompson and Matt Done replace Kennedy and Elding.

Done almost levelled the game when he picked up a great through ball by Jones but saw his shot rebound back off the post.

That chance proved to be a vital miss when the home side doubled their lead. A lofted free kick towards Lines at the back post was laid off to Hughes who played a reverse ball back to Lines for him to send a curling effort beyond Lillis for 2-0.

At that point the game looked over for Dale, although they were thrown a lifeline when Byron Anthony diverted an Adam's left wing cross into his own net to half the deficit.

In the end time ran out for Hill's men.

Keith Hill said after the game: “I think the goal on the stroke of half time galvanised the opposition.

"I’m looking at the result and I’m disappointed but I’m not disappointed with the players. The performance in the first half gave us a lot of optimism and I think we were rather unfortunate to go in at half time one down.

"The goal changed the complexities of the second half; they go in at half time one goal to the advantage, probably undeserved. It changes the manager’s team talk, the fans attitude and my team talk. The approach changes to the second half on that decision.

"It quite possibly was a penalty but the referee today was not to a standard I expect. I’m supposed to show respect to the referee’s association but I can’t show them that respect when a referee performs like that. His performance was below standard and, diplomatically, in favour of the home side.

"The assistant referee is probably the person in the best position to give the penalty but he didn’t give it so I’m looking at the referee who gave it as quickly as he could.

"We hit the post in the first half through Anthony Elding and in the second half at 1-0 down we hit it again through Matty Done.

"It’s easy to paper over the cracks because of the result. But the scoreline wasn’t a true reflection of the game or the first half.

"I’m pleased with the players although I’m disappointed for them as they deserved something from this game. But that’s League One football, it’s an education and it will continue to be an education for as long as we stay in this division.

"Glad to have Wiseman back but he now needs to get match fit. He was good but we expect more going forward.

"Same with Nicky (Adams) he hasn’t played much recently.

But trust these players, they will come in on Monday confident and we will head into the Dagenham game.

"I won’t change my philosophy and I won’t change this squad of players. I believe they are good enough to stay in League One.”


Bristol Rovers (Hughes p 45+1, Lines 82) 2-1 Rochdale (Anthony og 86)

Attendance: 5872 (343 away)

Rochdale: Lillis, Wiseman, Holness, Dawson, Widdowson, Adams, Barry-Murphy, Elding (Joe Thompson 74), Jones (c), Kennedy (Done 74), O'Grady
Subs (not used): Edwards, Tutte, Goodall, Josh Thompson, Smalley

Bristol Rovers: Andersen, Regan, Coles, Anthony, Sawyer, Lines, Campbell (c), Hughes, Reece (Brown 83), Hoskins, Kuffour (Akinde 83)
Subs (not used): Green,Tunnicliffe,Blizzard, Richards, Swallow

Referee: Mr C Pawson
Assistant Referee’s: Mr T Horton & Mr M Howes
Fourth Official: Mr K Johnson


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