Matty Done’s first-half strike earned Rochdale a 1-0 victory over Bristol Rovers at the Crown Oil Arena.
He turned home Bradden Inman’s dinked effort from close range after seven minutes, in what proved to be the only goal of a tight contest.
Keith Hill stuck with the same starting eleven from midweek, and those players repaid that faith by starting very strongly, taking the lead after just seven minutes.
Ian Henderson, who signed a contract extension before the game, did well to ride a challenge in midfield before finding Inman. He dinked over the advancing ‘keeper, and although the effort appeared to be heading goalwards, Done turned home from a yard out to make sure.
Done was close to a second four minutes later, when he flicked Joe Rafferty’s low cross just wide of the far post.
Dale had started the opening 20 minutes on top, but the visitors enjoyed a spell of their own midway through the half. Liam Sercombe tested Josh Lillis from distance, with the Dale stopper holding on well to the fizzing effort.
Rory Gaffney volleyed a Tom Broadbent deep cross into the side netting, shortly before Ellis Harrison headed a right-wing cross well wide.
Sercombe tested Lillis again from long range, and the Gas came closest from Ollie Clarke’s scissor kick which dipped just over the crossbar.
Done was finding space in the Rovers area, this time turning Joe Bunney’s cross wide of the near post, whilst Henderson fired an effort well over after a knock down from Done.
Clarke and Lee Brown had efforts well off target for the visitors after the break, whilst Done’s dipping shot was well held at the near post for Dale.
Steven Davies and Jordan Williams replaced Calvin Andrew and Inman inside the final 20 minutes, but it was Bunney and Rafferty who combined to keep the visistors out with a quarter of an hour remaining.
A goalbound shot from close range hit the legs of Bunney, but still looked to be going in until Rafferty’s intervention on the line.
Done sent a curling effort wide, and Bunney saw a free-kick was distance well held, as the game entered its final stages.
Rovers rallied late on, but they couldn’t find a way through a stubborn Dale defence that held on to a well-earned three points.