Full-time: Rochdale 2 Bristol Rovers 1
Bristol Rovers enjoyed an encouraging start to their afternoon at Spotland – before seeing it end in red cards for Garry Kenneth and Eliot Richards, an injury to David Clarkson and another league defeat.
Clarkson had plundered his sixth goal of the campaign by converting an 11th minute penalty to give Rovers an early lead after Wayne Brown was felled in the area – but that was about as good as it got for Mark McGhee's side.
Rochdale - under pressure from supporters that have only seen them win twice on home soil this season - levelled matters in the 27th minute when striker Andrew Tutte guided a low shot into the bottom corner following a corner routine reminiscent of the one used by Teddy Sheringham and Darren Anderton in the days when the pair were together at Tottenham Hotspur.
Had it not been for Rovers goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, however, the game would have probably been dead and buried long before it was after an opening 45 minutes during which he pulled off a string of fine saves to deny a whole host of Rochdale players from adding to their solitary goal.
17th Edition 8 way fuse boards prevent fires & improve electrical safety. Save £28 on 8 way fuse boards for a limited time only with A & D Electrical.
Terms: Bristol and Bath areas.
Contact: 0117 2448240
Valid until: Monday, May 20 2013
Bobby Grant had been one of those denied by Etheridge from distance in the first-half – but the goalkeeper could do nothing about the former Scunthorpe man's speculative shot on the hour mark, which was helped on the way into the net by having it's trajectory altered after skimming off the head of defender Tom Parkes.
Had Rovers had any hopes of getting back into the game, they were effectively ended when Kenneth was handed a second yellow card in the 71st minute for a mistimed challenge on the edge of his penalty area in an effort to thwart another developing Rochdale counter attack. Richards was offered a straight red for a late tackle on Ashley Grimes in stoppage-time to complete another frustrating afternoon for McGhee.
Kenneth and Richards now both miss the trip to Port Vale on Tuesday, where Rovers could be also without Clarkson, who hobbled off to be replaced by Fabian Broghammer at the start of the second-half.
McGhee, however, will at least have been encouraged by the performance of Danny Woodards, who returned to the starting line-up for the first time this season after recovering from a broken leg, managed to get through an hour when asked to play in midfield
Rovers (4-3-3): Etheridge; Smith, Kenneth, Parkes, Paterson; Clarkson, Woodards, W Brown; Eaves, Anyinsah, Riordan. Subs: Richards, Broghammer, L Brown, Virgo, Clarke, Clucas, Walker.
Rochdale (4-4-2): Lillis; P Edwards, Bennett, R Edwards, McIntyre; Tutte, Kennedy, Cavanagh, Grant; Adebola, Gornell. Subs: Rafferty, Barry-Murphy, Donnelly, Grimes, Pearson, Craney, Smith.