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16 November 2012

A look ahead to Saturday's game

Opponents Rochdale themselves earned a somewhat fortuitous 3 points at Wycombe in their last League game.

Bristol Rovers face a trip up the M5/M6 to take on Rochdale in good heart after their hard fought 3-2 home victory over Chesterfield. Despite riding their luck at times the 3 points were most welcome.


Bobby Grant's dramatic injury-time winner helped Rochdale move into the play-off places. Ashley Grimes finished off a flowing counter-attack in the fifth minute to give Dale an early lead. The Chairboys established parity 20 minutes later when Joel Grant combined with Dennis Oli to chip over on-rushing keeper Josh Lillis.


The game seemed to be heading for a draw when Bobby Grant was released by substitute George Donnelly two minutes into time added on, the striker’s shot looped up off the back of Leon Johnson and into the net. It secured Dale’s fifth win from the last seven away games to lift them up to sixth position.


Dale Boss John Coleman said after the game, “I feel for them to be honest because when you’re scrapping for your lives and trying to get wins, things like that seem to go against you when you’re at your lowest,”


“Give Wycombe their due, they took the game to us after we scored. They could have scored three times before they equalised, and fair play to them, they pressed us back and I think they were the better team in the first half.


“Second half we were a lot better, and I think in the end we probably deserved to win. If you keep peppering their goal, which we did in the second half, eventually it will turn out for you.”


Looking back at previous clashes between the teams it is remarkable that the games more often than not result in draws, with 14 of the 26 games played overall finishing level. At home Dale has won 5 of the 13 games, with just 2 Rovers wins and 6 draws.


September 1969 at Eastville. Both teams had got off to a bright start to the season and newly promoted Rochdale were happy to play an expansive brand of attacking football to thrill the 8,653 crowd.thThe very first game between the two teams took place on 27


Harold Jarman opened the scoring with a penalty after Robin Stubbs was brought down. Great work by Butler created a deserved equaliser for Dale and in the second half they took the lead with a headed goal.


Stubbs brought the game back to parity with a weak shot past Harkin into the corner of the net. Bobby Jones put Rovers in front again as he took a high up field ball and struck it past an advancing Harkin. Dale stunned the Eastville faithful with a deserved last minute equaliser. So 3-3 for the first ever game between the clubs.


The return game at Spotland proved to be a dull 0-0 result and this has been the pattern of games at Spotland, with few goals scored by either team.


attempt. A Bruce Bannister goal in front of a meagre 1,499 crowd secured the two points for Rovers. It took another 6 trips before Rovers secured their second victory at the venue, again 1-0 on 13 January 2006.thRovers’ first away win at Spotland was a 1-0 victory on 25 March 1974 at their 5


The following season both games finished 0-0 although the game at Spotland in December ended in high drama, as late in the game Gary Jones blazed a controversially awarded penalty over the bar. In 2002-03 season goals from Paul Simpson and Clive Platt gave Dale a 2-1 victory in Bristol, whilst Lee McEvilly scored in the 1-1 draw at Spotland in March.


Rovers’ last visit to Spotland on 8 February 2011 seemed to be heading for a 0-0 draw until a late flurry of goals brought the game to life. Dawson put Dale ahead with 18 minutes left. It took only 7 minutes for Will Hoskins to bring the game back level but right on 90 minutes Akpa Akpro put Dale 2-1 up before Done finished the scoring 3 minutes later to give the home team a comfortable win.


In mid-week Dale went out of the FA Cup as they lost 1-0 at home in a replay to Morecame. Boss John Coleman was less than impressed with his team’s performance.

Gary McDonald's close-range finish on the stroke of half-time earned the Shrimps their victory; their second of the season at Spotland, following a 2-1 win in October.


It is ironic that despite their good away form Dale have now won just two of their last nine games in all competitions, leaving the Dale boss furious.


He said: "Morecambe deserved to go through because we were absolutely abysmal and we got what we deserved.


"The fans have paid their hard-earned money to watch the game and they deserved a better performance than that. We had three or four players who performed on the night and six or seven players who didn't. You cannot carry that many players."


Despite their elevated League position Dale have won only 2 of their home games, drawn 4 and lost 2, to pick up just 10 of the 24 points available. It’s the sort of form that should give Rovers the chance to close the 10 point gap between themselves and the play-off positions.


Written by Gerry Prewett.

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