Good performance, but no points
Hogan (58), Cummins (62)
Bristol Rovers 0
Second half goals from Scott Hogan and Graham Cummins in the space of four minutes gave Rochdale victory this afternoon.
And yet it could all have been so different had Rovers converted their first half possession, in particular, into goals.
As has happened on a number of occasions this season, they took the game to their opponents and for 45 minutes were the best side.
However Rochdale are not challenging for a play off spot for no reason and looked a more determined outfit in the second period.
Those two goals in four minutes helped, of course, but even after that Rovers looked dangerous on the break but were unable to make the breakthrough.
Manager John Ward made one change to his starting lineup for the game, which saw Alefe Santos come into the side in place of Eliot Richards.
Clarkson moved to the left of midfield, with Santos taking his place on the right.
The home side include former Rovers loanee Matt Lund in their lineup.
Although the home side forced three early corners, all they had to show for their efforts was a glancing header from Ian Henderson that was well wide of the target.
Rochdale were reduced to ten men for a ten minute period after Matt Harrold and Oliver Lancashire clashed heads as they both challenged for the ball.
Harrold was able to continue after minimal treatment but Lancashire only returned after a ten minute spell in the dressing room, where he almost certainly had stitches inserted in the wound and a bandage applied to his head, similar to the one sported by Mark McChrystal after his head injury at Torquay.
While Lancashire out of the action, Lee Brown saw a free kick drift wide of the upright and John-Joe O’Toole’s cushioned effort met the same fate.
On his return, he helped his fellow defenders repel a wave of Rovers attacks. Matt Harrold saw keeper Josh Lillis make a routine save from his close range effort.
Brown then saw the keeper turn his shot round the post and from the resulting corner O’Toole headed wide.
Ollie Clarke saw his on target effort by a packed home defence, though the home side did create a couple of half chances before the half ended.
Lund, under pressure from Smith, hit a shot over the crossbar and Scott Hogan hit another effort wide of the mark.
Their best chance of the half fell to Josh Rafferty with five minutes remaining, but he also fired wide when well placed.
Rovers finished the half strongly and O’Toole hit a shot straight at Lillis while another Clarke effort was deflected behind for a corner.
The only disappointment for Ward’s side was that their first half possession wasn’t rewarded with a goal.
David Clarkson hit a shot wide of the target in the early stages of the second half, but the home side were looking sharper than they were before the break and Henderson headed over when well placed while
Cummins volleyed over ther bar.
The goal they had been threatening to score came on 58 minutes when Joe Rafferty crossed from the right and Hogan slid in to beat Mildenhall from close range.
Rovers immediately pushed up in an attempt to equalise but they were caught out by a long ball over the top and Cummins ran on to beat Mildenhall with a superb shot. Whilst there was much to be admired about the finish, Rovers won’t be happy with the manner in which it was conceded.
Henderson volleyed wide as the home side threatened to score a third, but Rovers regrouped and John-Joe O’Toole saw a long range effort deflected through to goalkeeper Lillis before another long range effort, from Eliot Richards, was well wide of the target.
Mildenhall saved well from Lund, touching his shot behind for a corner, before Smith was just wide with a low shot and Ellis Harrison fired over the bar as Rovers tried, without success, to pull a goal back.
Rovers: Steve Mildenhall, Michael Smith, Tom Parkes, Mark McChrystal, Lee Brown, David Clarkson (Ellis Harrison, 83), Ollie Clarke, Ollie Norburn (Chris Beardsley, 73), John-Joe O’Toole, Matt Harrold, Alefe Santos (Eliot Richards, 62).
Substitutes: Jim Paterson, Mitch Harding, Conor Gough, Tom Lockyer
Rochdale: Josh Lillis, Joe Rafferty, Jack O’Connell, Oliver Lancashire, Michael Rose, Peter Vincenti, Peter Cavanagh, Matthew Lund, Scott Hogan, Graham Cummins, Ian Henderson
Substitutes: Rhys Bennett, Ashley Eastman, George Donnelly, Bastien Henry, Matt Done, Robbie Thomson, Jamie Allen
Yellow Card: Cavanagh
Referee: Darren Drysdale