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Rochdale 0-0 Bristol Rovers: Report

4 February 2017

Dale drew for the first time since September in the league, as they were held to a goalless draw by Bristol Rovers at the Crown Oil Arena.


That last league draw also came against Rovers earlier in the season, and the sides could not be separated again in a game which failed to produce many sights of goal for either side.

There were four changes from last weekend’s FA Cup defeat against Huddersfield Town, including two debutants. Goalkeeper Ben Wilson, on loan from Cardiff City, and Joel Taylor, on loan from Stoke City, made their first appearances in a Dale shirt. Mark Kitching made his first start for Dale after turning his loan deal from Middlesbrough into a permanent one on transfer deadline day, whilst Oliver Rathbone returned to the midfield after injury.

The visitors made the first meaningful foray forward, when Luke James headed over a right wing cross from Stuart Sinclair inside the opening ten minutes. James then dangerously flicked on another cross from the right, but Keith Keane anticipated well to put the ball behind.

Reuben Noble-Lazarus forced Rovers goalkeeper Joe Lumley into the first save of the game, when he met Harrison McGahey’s cross at the far post, but Lumley was able to collect at the second attempt.

Both sides were battling hard in midfield to get a firm grip on the game, but neither could find a sustained spell of pressure.

Ollie Clarke dragged an effort from distance well wide, before Billy Bodin fired a shot from the edge of the area over the roof of the Sandy Lane stand.

Rathbone, having missed the last two matches through injury, was displaying his superb energy levels in the middle of the park. He let fly from 25 yards after the visitors had backed off him, but pulled his shot just wide of Lumley’s right post.

Dale goalkeeper Wilson, quiet for the first 43 minutes, was forced into his first save when the ball broke for Clarke just inside the area. He held comfortably in the last action of an even first half that lacked clear cut chances.

Dale started the second period brightly, as Noble-Lazarus forced Lumley into a save with a effort from distance with the outside of his left boot. Kitching had a shot blocked as he broke forward from left-back.

Taylor, who had swapped positions with Kitching at half-time, was replaced by Peter Vincenti ten minutes into the second half.

Vincenti won an aerial battle shortly after being introduced, but his glancing header from McGahey’s cross dropped just wide of the far post.

With 20 minutes remaining, Donal McDermott was introduced for his first appearance of the calendar year, replacing Noble-Lazarus on the left side.

The visitors carved out their best chance of the game when Lee Brown, breaking from left-back, latched on to a pass inside the area. He shot from the angle, but Wilson was out quickly to block the shot behind for a corner.

Jamie Allen replaced Rathbone with ten minutes remaining, and he could have had an effort one-on-one with Lumley had his touch not let him down inside the area from Joe Rafferty’s delightful through ball.

Both sides pushed forward in the final stages but neither goalkeeper was tested, as Dale played out their first goalless draw of the season.


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