A look at tomorrow's opponents
Defeat at Portsmouth on Saturday really put Bristol Rovers fortune on the line. On Monday they face a Rochdale team battling for an automatic promotion spot. With 3 games to go Fleetwood are closing in 3 points behind and Burton 4 points behind.
There is evidence that Keith Hill’s team are starting to feel the pressure as their 6 game unbeaten spell was ended with a 3-0 defeat at Mansfield and they went down by the same score at home to Southend on Friday.
Dale went behind on 12 minutes as the Shrimpers Matt Done completed a strong run by rolling the ball to Barry Corr who was left with the easiest of tasks.
Rochdale had a number of chances but were deflated as the Essex team doubled their lead one minute before the break; Ryan Leonard’s shot from the left hand side of the penalty area appeared to be heading wide of the far post but Jacob Murphy was perfectly positioned the volley the ball in to the back of the net from six yards.
And, just 20 seconds in to the second half, the Shrimpers made it 3-0 as Michael Timlin volleyed home a left wing cross from Kevan Hurst. Dale thought they had got back in to the game when Done headed home from close range but the effort was ruled out for offside.
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 29 games played finishing level.
In Bristol, Dale has proved to be a real bogey team for the Gas with Rovers recording just 2 wins from 13 games whereas the Lancashire team has 3 victories to its name.
The very first game between the two teams took place on 27th 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.
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.
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.
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 October 2010 Rovers just squeezed out all the points with a 2-1 win. A Jeff Hughes penalty on half time gave Rovers the lead. Chris Lines appeared to make the game safe on 82 minutes before Byron Anthony put one past his own keeper four minutes later to ensure a nervous finish.
Last season both games finished 2-1 to the home team. The game at the Mem was a very dull affair until Ellis Harrison ran half the length of the pitch and let fly with a powerful shot into the top corner that the keeper had no chance of saving.
Dale were level on 75 minutes when defender Michael Rose hit a left foot shot from 25 yards into the top left hand corner.
Nine minutes later Eliot Richards sent a corner into the box, which Brunt failed to knock home from close range, but the ball fell sweetly to Harrison who slotted home the rebound to secure all 3 points for the Gas.
Speaking after the Southend game, Keith Hill has told his players to move on from the last two results and start creating opportunities again, “It was difficult, a tense game and I think the tension showed in the performance.
"There looked as if there was a little bit of a crisis of confidence for the players and it didn’t get any better for us from the first mistakes onwards.
“It’s disappointing but you have to collect your positive energy and make sure you move on to the next available opportunity. We have three more opportunities, but we can’t afford to perform with those type of nerves and make those kind of mistakes and expect to get where we want to get to.
“It’s OK wanting to achieve but you have to have the bravery and commitment and if you have that it turns you into a better person and a better team.”
Written by Gerry Prewett.