Death Or Glory Attempt At Dale

May 1, 2006

[image1] With the start to Rover’s penultimate match of the current season that saw many hundreds of Gasheads travelling to Rochdale in buoyant mood, things were in the carnival atmosphere and there was no doubting that the supporters had pulled out all the stops to give Rovers the dominant support at the game.

Rovers needed a win from this game and nothing else would be good enough and from the kick off it was Rovers who stamped their authority on the game with several good attempts at goal that roused the travelling gasheads into constant song, compared to a subdued silence from the home fans.

[image2] A shot from Walker almost opened the scoring to keep the pressure on Rochdale whose response in the first quarter was somewhat muted. As the game unfolded an ominous warning came when the linesmen failed to see a couple of off-sides that allowed Rochdale to break through a weak Rovers defence, but for an on form Scott shearer having to keep the ball out.

On the half hour Rovers almost opened the scoring again when an Agogo shot was deflected off the woodwork only to finally go out wide when Rovers got it back off the rebound.

In the closing minutes of the first half Rochdale broke free into the Rovers box with Hinton make a good challenge for the ball that saw the Rochdale player stumble and go down. The linesman kept his flag down, and yet the referee who was well behind play, some twenty five yards back, finally managed to catch up and immediately awarded a penalty and Red card to Craig Hinton in what can only be described as an outrageous piece of refereeing. It was left only for Rochdale to slot the ball past Scott Shearer.

[image3] The second half saw Rovers boss Trollope forced to make changes, and on came Christian Edwards in place of Stuart Campbell to face a more confident Rochdale that seized opportunities to constantly harass Rovers who were clearly suffering from being a man down.

As the game wore on, Rovers determination won them much posession and some good passing football was on display from the visitors.Sadly, it was mostly in areas where it would not hurt the home team and they seemed happy enough for Rovers to have the ball in certain areas of the pitch.

In the closing stages and with Rovers chasing a goal, the debacle continued when Rochdale broke through the Rovers defence that forced shearer out to challenge for and clear the ball, but once again the Referee pointed to the penalty spot deeming that Shearer had impeded the Rochdale man. As one would expect, the Dale fans roared with excitement at the prospect of another goal and surely wrapping up the points.

[image4] For a moment, it looked as though the man in the middle was going to dismiss Shearer, then having realised the Pirates were already down a man decided not to give any further punishment.For some reason, I turned to my wife and said that “Shearer will save this”, immediately followed by a fantastic save from Shearer and a tumultuous roar from Rovers fans which once again heightened their song to a now silent Rochdale support.

Rovers then began piling on the pressure with both Chris Lines and Ali Gibb coming on to shore up the attack which almost produced results when a cross from Junior Agogo to Craig Disley who was stood right in front of the goal saw his shot blocked by Rochdale bodies who had flung themselves at the ball. Remembering what Rovers had done at games Like Rushden and Cheltenham it was still possible to secure the win but the tension heightened in the dying minutes with a corner from Rochdale that saw them end all hopes of the play offs campaign. 

To summarise, it was a game very similar to the one at Wrexham, Rovers going behind then throwing the kitchen sink at them in an attempt to get back on terms. Despite not doing so and effectively ending the season there and then, it was a performance worthy of the standing ovation the Rovers players got at the final whistle.

[image5] Gasheads Talk Back

Once again, after the match Gasheads were asked for their views on what had unfolded at Spotland. Here are a few observations.

Mandy from Wrexham said

I think we worked hard and Shearer had a very good game. We didnt have enough shots on goal and we didnt challenge enough up front or work their keeper, but we did work very hard and the match just didnt go for us today. Once we went down to ten men it killed the game and we were always up against it. Man of the match for me was a choice between a few players. Disley just shaded it for me with his work rate and first touch and passing, he certainly covered a lot of the pitch today. A worthy mention should also go to Shearer for a big performance today and a great penalty save backed up by a wonderful reaction save shortly after.

Gary from Nottingham saw it this way

A fairly decent display and a dubious penalty decison. I thought the player who went through looked offside and I was diappointed the linesman was not up with play and able to make the correct decision. In the second half despite being down to ten men we still put in a rugged performance and tried to the last. I thought Shearer’s penalty save was excellent, as was his reaction save monets later. I have not seen a better save since  one from Kevin Miller at Oxford a few years ago. The result was probably a fair reflection on the match as Dale had the better chances and though nobody really stood out for me as man of the match, Elliott did just enough for me to shade it.

Phil from Staple Hill added

As Trollope has taken this squad and gradually got them playing the game how he wants, he must feel  the season has maybe ended better than both he and we could have wished for, all things considered. Whilst I am sure he will look to the transfer market, in many ways he may also feel a slight tweak here and there will also have the desired effect. With a number of players out of contract, once again we will have a few new faces to get used to next season. It will finally be Trolls and Lennie’s very own gig and they will rightly be judged on the squad they assemble. I am pleased I made the journey today, despite us losing, as Rovers have been good value on the road this year. Roll on next season, I feel  it might just be getting near where we need to be to go up.

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