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Bristol Rovers 2-2 Rochdale: Report

10 September 2016

Dale secured a well-earned point on the road after 2-2 with Bristol Rovers at the Memorial Ground, despite having a man sent off midway through the second half.

There were three goals in a crazy five minutes spell during the first half, with Callum Camps putting Dale in front after rounding the goalkeeper.

Matty Taylor equalised four minutes later, before Ian Henderson restored Dale’s lead almost straight from kick off.

Taylor equalised again five minutes into the second half with a fine strike inside the area. Niall Canavan then saw red with 20 minutes remaining, but the ten men stayed strong and earned a point.

Keith Hill named an unchanged starting eleven from Tuesday’s Checkatrade Trophy tie against Sunderland, whilst Calvin Andrew returned to the squad after missing two matches through injury.

The home side exerted early pressure on Dale without testing Josh Lillis, whilst Dale had a couple of chances of their own to break the deadlock inside the first fifteen minutes. 

Henderson tried to chip the goalkeeper from the angle after being found by Joe Bunney, before Bunney found Peter Vincenti at the far post with a superb cross, but the Jerseyman could only find the side netting with his header.

Hiram Boateng was a danger from the visitors’ midfield, and it was his run that found Taylor who scuffed a shot wide.

The deadlock was broken though in the 17th minute when Camps scored his first goal of the season. Henderson showed great strength to hold off the defender and threaded a perfectly weighted through ball to 
Camps. The Dale academy product showed great composure to round Kelle Roos and slot into the empty net.

That kickstarted a furious five minutes of football, in which the home side equalised, albeit shortlived. Peter Hartley nodded a corner kick into the path of Taylor, who had the simple task of touching the ball over the line.

The home fans were still celebrating though when Dale struck back. Scott Tanser’s cross found Bunney at the far post, who fired across goal where Henderson was waiting. The Dale skipper was in acres of space and flicked the ball over the line to restore the lead.

It was a frantic spell in a half which didn’t have too much to offer for the remainder of it, with just a chance apiece for each side before half-time.

Boateng forced Lillis into a save low to his left, before Henderson had a superb chance to double Dale’s lead. Camps found Bunney on the right side of the area, and after beating his man pulled the ball back to Henderson. However, Roos was out quickly to block the shot and the home side cleared.

Jim McNulty replaced Tanser at half-time for Dale, but the defence was breached five minutes into the second half in stunning fashion. A cross was nodded into the path of Taylor, whose acrobatic volley found the top corner for his second of the game.

The sides were evenly matched once the scorelines were level, although neither could carve out an opportunity to put themselves in front as the half wore on.

However, the sides would become uneven in numbers when Canavan saw red with little under 20 minutes remaining. The central defender was shown a second yellow for holding Ellis Harrison on the halfway line, meaning Dale would have to see out the game with ten men.

Calvin Andrew and Keith Keane replaced Vincenti and Camps, with Keane making his debut in the middle of a back three to help Dale hold on to a point.

Henderson had other ideas though, and had two opportunities to nick a surprise winner. Firstly he flicked Henderson’s header goalwards which Roos spilled, before a turn and shot was held by the home goalkeeper.

The home side really piled on the pressure as the game headed to a close. James Clarke had a header well saved by Lillis, and headed another over from a stoppage free-kick.

In the end Dale held on for a well-earned point despite the man deficit, with Fleetwood Town to come to the Crown Oil Arena in a week’s time.

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