Rovers lose and end the game with nine men
Tutte (27), Grant (59)
Bristol Rovers 1
Clarkson (pen, 14)
Rovers returned home from Rochdale after suffering a 1-2 defeat at Spotland and finishing the game with nine men.
David Clarkson’s 14th minute penalty had seen them take the lead, though the home side equalised before the break and scored what proved to be the winner as the hour mark approached.
Garry Kenneth was sent off after picking two yellow cards and Eliot Richards received a straight red for a reckless challenge in the final minute of the game.
There can be no denying that Rochdale were the better side on the day, but Rovers might well have snatched a point when they were down to ten men and there could be no faulting their effort, determination and commitment.
Once again, though, they conceded two soft goals and were unable to convert more than the one scoring opportunity that presented itself.
Manager Mark McGhee made two changes to his starting lineup, with Michael Smith coming in at right back in place of the suspended Matt Lund and
Danny Woodards returned for his first game of the season, in place of Fabian Broghammer.
There was an early chance for Rovers, but David Clarkson headed wide from Derek Riordan’s corner from the left.
There didn’t appear much to choose between the sides in the opening ten minutes, though, but Joe Anyinsah might have given Rovers the lead when he latched on to a flick on from Tom Eaves and tried to head the ball over the advancing Josh Lillis who managed to gather.
That was on 11 minutes and three minutes later they were ahead. Wayne Brown was brought down by Peter Cavanagh and Clarkson sent Lillis the wrong way with his well struck spot kick.
The goal seemed to stir the home side into action and they began to get a foothold in the game and tested Neil Etheridge on a number of occasions.
The shot stopper beat away an effort from Bobby Grant and then turned a dipping shot from Phil Edwards over the bar.
He saved a shot from Andrew Tutte at the second attempt and then dived to his right to keep out a Bobby Grant free kick.
He was beaten, though, on 27 minutes. Phil Edwards stepped over a corner from the right, allowing Tutte a free shot at goal and he swept the ball past Etheridge from 12 yards.
Having withstood so much pressure Rovers eventually broke and Eaves was denied a goal by Lillis who rushed to the edge of his area to clear as the striker tried to lift the ball over him.
Anyinsah dragged a shot wide before Etheridge saved another effort, this time from Bobby Grant, and the final chance of the half fell to Eaves, who hit an angled drive over the crossbar.
The home side started the second half brightly and Jim Paterson did well to block a shot from Grant while Jason Kennedy hit a shot over the crossbar.
It was Grant who scored what proved to be the decisive goal, on 59 minutes when his curling shot glanced off the top of Tom Parkes’ head and nestled in the top corner of the net.
As Rovers fought to get back on level terms, Wayne Brown’s shot was blocked by a packed home defence, but it was the home side that looked most likely to score again.
Tutte and Peter Cavanagh both went close before Kenneth picked up a second yellow card for a rash challenge.
If anything, the fact that they had ten men seemed to spur Rovers on and Weaves saw his fierce left foot shot well saved by Lillis before Anyinsah’s shot was deflected behind for a corner.
Etheridge had one more save in his locker, though, and he did well to palm a shot from Terry Gornell over the bar.
Eaves saw another shot saved by Lillis before Richards saw red and thoughts now turn to Tuesday’s match against Port Vale, a game that both Kenneth and Richards will sit out.
Rovers: Neil Etheridge, Michael Smith, Garry Kenneth, Tom Parkes, Jim Paterson, Danny Woodards (Seanan Clucas, 65), Wayne Brown, David Clarkson (Fabian Broghammer, 46), Derek Riordan (Eliot Richards, 70), Tom Eaves, Joe Anyinsah
Substitutes: Lee Brown, Adam Virgo, Ollie Clarke, Sam Walker
Yellow Cards: Kenneth (2), Anyinsah, Clucas
Red Card: Kenneth
Rochdale: Josh Lillis, Phil Edwards, Ryan Edwards, Rhys Bennett, Kevin McIntyre, Peter Cavanagh, Andrew Tutte, Jason Kennedy, Terry Gornell, Dele Adebola (George Donnelly, 83), Bobby Grant (Ashley Grimes, 89)
Substitutes: Joe Rafferty, Brian Barry-Murphy, Matt Pearson, Ian Craney, Ben Smith