Two goals from in-form striker Aaron Collins secured a much-needed home win for Rovers.
The Gas made two changes to their line-up from Tuesday’s 1-2 home defeat to Port Vale; Hoole and Clarke replacing the suspended duo of Harries and Finley.
The home side wore their away kit in support of the Shelter charity, running out in the distinctive yellow and green quarters to defend the Thatchers End.
The visitors forced a couple of early corners and then Belshaw was called upon to save at the feet of Beesley. Rochdale went even closer in the fourth minute as Odoh exchanged passes and drilled a low left-foot shot just wide of Belshaw’s left-hand post.
Rovers’ first attack brought a corner after six minutes; it was cleared but Evans’ second cross found an unmarked Hoole, whose header went wide from ten yards.
Good close control from Collins then brought a free-kick for The Gas on the edge of the box, in a central position. Evans took full advantage, curling into the top left-hand corner to give Rovers a 1-0 lead in the ninth-minute.
Another Evans delivery in the 16th minute brought shouts for a penalty as Anderton went to ground, but the referee waved away the protests. Evans was causing chaos in the Rochdale backline again in the 20th minute, sliding Clarke in but the wing-back was adjudged to be offside as he raced in on goal.
Collins then charged down the right, shooting straight at Lynch when he had options in the middle too. Rovers nearly doubled their lead after 25 minutes, but a combination of a desperate goal-line clearance from a Clarke cross and a full-length Lynch save from a superb Collins volley kept the lead to a solitary goal.
Anderton then shot low and hard at Lynch as The Gas piled on the pressure. An injury to striker Morley following a fine Taylor tackle allowed the visitors some much-needed respite.
Rovers were soon back on the hunt though; a fierce Clarke shot being deflected behind for a corner in the 38th minute.
Suddenly, Rochdale could have found themselves level as a Belshaw clearance crashed into a Rochdale forward and flew inches wide of the empty net. Referee Linington blew for handball anyway, saving any blushes for the home ’keeper.
Aaron Collins then nearly made it two with a fine, curling effort from the edge of the box, which a relieved Lynch saw fly past his right-hand post.
Rovers finished the half camped deep in Rochdale territory and can count themselves unlucky to not be two or three goals ahead at the interval.
The Gas began proceedings having made a half-time substitution, Martinez replacing Connor Taylor, and were soon back on the attack. First Evans, then Collins, both registering shots on target as the home side looked to secure their seventh league win of the season.
And score they did, in the 50th minute, and it was another screamer. Collins picking up a loose ball, driving forward and rifling home from the edge of the box.
Rochdale almost grabbed a goal back but Belshaw pulled off two brilliant saves within a minute. First, he acrobatically tipped over a shot from Beesley, before making a point-blank stop from a header from the resultant corner.
The rain was beginning to fall more heavily now as Rovers looked to reassert their authority, with both Hoole and Nicholson making inroads down the right flank.
From nowhere, the 214 visiting fans were celebrating a Rochdale goal; Beesley tapping home from close range to halve the deficit in the 59th minute.
In the 64th minute, Rochdale were awarded a penalty after Martinez fouled Beesley in the box. The striker drilled his spot-kick straight down the middle to make it 2-2.
Aaron Collins then burst into the box but his pull-back evaded everyone, before the goalscorer then switched flanks to pick out Nicholson, whose header flashed narrowly wide.
Anderton slid in to prevent a Rochdale breakaway in the 74th minute, as the game became stretched. Rochdale were threatening now and Beesley’s low shot was blocked, before the lively Odoh advanced menacingly into the Rovers area; his cross cleared by Martinez.
Hoole blocked a goalbound effort from Dale substitute as the game hung in the balance.
In the 83rd minute, Harry Anderson played a one-two with Evans to put The Gas 3-2 up, his shot hitting Lynch but finally nestling in the corner of the net.
Joey Barton immediately made a double substitution, Spence and Thomas replacing Clarke and Nicholson. Thomas was straight into the action, setting up Evans for a shot that went straight into Lynch’s midriff.
It was 4-2 to Rovers in the 89th minute as man-of-the-match Aaron Collins was put clear to settle the contest with a right-footed strike from 12 yards.
Rovers' next test is next Saturday's journey to Scunthorpe United in the Sky Bet League Two (3pm KO).
ROVERS: Belshaw, Collins, Nicholson (Spence 85), Coutts (c), Anderton, Taylor (Martinez 45), Anderson, Clarke (Thomas 85), Evans, Whelan, Hoole.
Subs: Ward, Thomas, Westbrooke, Martinez, Spence, Pitman, Jones.
ROCHDALE: Lynch, O’Keefe, White, McNulty, O’Connell (c), Morley, Beesley, Newby (Andrews 56), Dorsett, Odoh, Kelly (Broadbent 86).
Subs: Coleman, Taylor, Dooley, Grant, Broadbent, Done, Andrews.
REFEREE: James Linington
2021/22 Season Ticket holders can bring a friend to our upcoming fixture against Rochdale for just £10!
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Bristol Rovers v Rochdale - Replay - Sat 11th December 202111 December 2021
Bristol Rovers v Rochdale - Highlights - Sat 11th December 202111 December 2021