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Bristol Rovers 1 v 2 Rochdale
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 30th January 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Match Report: Bristol Rovers 1-2 Rochdale
Saturday, 30th Jan 2021 17:13 by Chaff

A brace for Alex Newby gave Rochdale a vital win away at Bristol Rovers. My nerves are shot and my fingers have no nails left but we managed to hold on for the win.

With no win since the middle of December, and on the back of two games where we had conceded in stoppage time to turn 4 points into 1, Dale had another potential relegation 6 pointer to contest as Dale travelled down to Bristol Rovers. Time is running out and we simply had to start picking up wins from somewhere. And, we seem to always do well at the Memorial Ground.

The team news came through the Dale twitter feed with the main news being that Kwadwo Baah had been dropped to the bench with Alex Newby replacing him. There was no Jake Beasley, Ryan McLaughlin, Eoghan O'Connell, Jimmy Ryan, Paul McShane and only 6 substitutes named:

Dale lined up in the quite fabulous green and black third kit and it was the home side who got the game under way.

Bristol Rovers had the first chance of the game when Hanlon turned a cross from the right hand side past the post after Aaron Morley had been caught in possession not far outside his own box.

Dale were struggling to get a hold on the game and were a little sloppy in possession with Morley again guilty of giving the ball away. One such counter ended with Osho putting in a brilliant late block as Bristol Rovers looked like troubling Bazunu. The resulting corner was headed over the bar.

The Dale's first real attack ended up with a corner which Dale took the lead from! Arguably undeserved but who cares. Morley took the corner and aimed to the near post which Lund flicked on to the back post and Alex Newby was left with a tap in on the line to make it 1-0! Get in! Newby starting his first game for a few weeks bagging his 7th goal of the season in all comps.

Dale had a let off when Hanlon turned another cross just on 21 minutes. A great chance as well that.

Dale then should absolutely have been 2-0 up. Humphrys broke after the home side gave the ball away and he set Alex Newby away down the right and his ball in found Lund who has to score but he glances it wide of the far post. What a chance and with Lund in the goalscoring form he's in this season, he'd have expected to score that as much as we did.

The home side had a freekick, stupidly given away by Dooley, but the interesting thing was the way we lined up to defend it. The Dale back line all held hands in a bid to have a strict and solid defensive line. The set piece found a Rovers head but the effort was harmlessly high and wide.

Another great chance for Lund. A great ball in from Keohane found the Dale top scorer who headed well over the bar. Should really be hitting the target but another positive forward move from Dale and again, we look like we have plenty of goals in us.

Dale paid the price for that as Bristol Rovers were level on 34 minutes through a fantastic finish from Luke Leahy. Haydon Roberts went on a run from defensive but was disposessed and the next passage of play saw the ball go out to the left where Matt Done should have been but was covering from Roberts. The ball ended up finding Leahy who cushioned a brilliant first time effort into the top corner. Take nothing away from the finish but Roberts going wandering put us in that position unfortunately. We could have been 3-0 up but with ten minutes to go before half time, it was 1-1. Newby arguably didn't do enough to stay with Leahy.

Humphrys blasted one over the bar with his left foot as Dale went trying to get back in front. Lucky for the home side as a trailing leg would have been very easy for Humphrys to go over in the box.

The score was level as the half time whistle blew and although Dale hadn't been at their best, they should have been ahead with two glorious chances for Lund though the stats will show that the home side had more possession and more shots I reckon.

Dale kicked off the second half but I can't neglect to mention the fact that Bristol Rovers came out for the second half to Cult of Personality by Living Colour, famously known as being former WWE star CM Punk's theme. The wrestling geek in me throughly enjoyed hearing that.

Morley again tried to score from the half way line but got it all wrong and couldn't even get it off the ground.

Bristol Rovers went close on 50 minutes. A wonderful ball in from Leahy was flicked on goal by Hanlon but Bazunu pushed it wide of the post.

How Bristol Rovers weren't ahead on 55 mins is beyond me. Bazunu has to make a really good save but so sloppy from Dale which even had Matt Lund almost assisting Rovers by passing it to the lad who forced Bazunu into a save. Just before this, Newby and Keoahne got in a right mess and the ball ended up being well defended by Osho thankfully.

An attempted clearance from Morley went straight under the bar and Bazunu, thankfully, was fouled as Dale couldn't get hold of the ball in the opening exchanges in the second half.

Sam Nicholson rattled the cross bar from 20 yards and Dale weren't even in the game at this point. All one way traffic and looked a matter of time before they were going to find a breakthrough.

Dale had been awful second half but somehow, God knows how, Dale went ahead on 63 minutes!! Haydon Roberts went on another mission, ended up on the edge of the Rovers 18 yard box and the ball ends up with Newby on the right who twisted one way then another but hit a shot that the keeper makes an absolute hash of and it's ended up in the back of the net to make it 2-1 to Rochdale and completely and utterly undeserved!

Stephen Humphrys went close again after some really good work from Alex Newby but his strike was pulled wide but a good break from the Dale striker who hadn't really been in the game as much as we'd want him to be.

A needless free kick was given away and the freekick was saved by Bazunu and the rebound ended up in the back of the net but thankfully the offside flag was raised.

Kwadwo Baah made his way onto the pitch as Stephen Humphrys was replaced. You could tell with Humphrys that something is preventing him from going full pelt and seems to be carrying some form of an injury.

Dale went so close to make it 3-1. Alex Newby did brilliantly to get past two defenders and the ball falls to Rathbone whose shot was brilliantly blocked.

Alex Newby made way for Jim McNulty. A point we made on the podcast this week was that had we been able to use McNulty late on in the last two games, we'd have seen them out. That is what we were all hoping for with this change.

This was not gonna be an enjoyable last few minutes as Dale deperately tried to hold on. Five minutes stoppage time were held up.

It was all Bristol Rovers and proper hide behind the sofa stuff. On 93 minutes, Nicholson drove the ball across goal which somehow missed everyone.

With seconds left, Leahy had THE chance. How it didn't go in I do not know. A great ball across and whoever came in at the back post could only hit the side netting. Jesus Christ.

The full time whistle went and Dale had finally got that HUGE win, a massive 3 points for Dale.

PLAYER RATINGS:

Gavin Bazunu - 7 (Good performance apart from some woeful kicking towards the end)

Matt Done - 7 (Better from Done, did well overall)

Jimmy Keohane- 5 (Really struggled today I thought)

Haydon Roberts - 6 (At fault for the first goal but in doing the same thing, had a big hand in he second)

GABRIEL OSHO – 8 (Superb today I thought, did the simple things right!)

Aaron Morley - 6 (Gave the ball away too much)

Alex Newby - 7 (Two goals and showed glimpses of brilliant skill)

Stephen Dooley – 6 (Solid enough today)

Matt Lund - 6 (Had two glorious chances and looks a little shaky in possession)

Ollie Rathbone - 6 (Hard working and tried to break when possible but wasn't happening for him)

Stephen Humphrys - 6 (Couple of chances but not at full pelt, obviously carrying an injury and was taken off on 76 mintutes)

Subs:

Kwadwo Baah - 6 (Tried to get forward and jink past defenders but didn't work)
Jim McNulty - 7 (Solid when he came on and added experience to the back line)

Photo: Action Images



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