A double from Joe Pugh is enough for Rovers as they book their place in the third round of the Youth Alliance Cup.
Doncaster Rovers U18s - 2 (Pugh 64' 80')
Rochdale U18s - 0
Saturday 3rd October 2015, 11:00am
Cantley Park Training Ground, Doncaster
Youth Alliance Cup
After a thrilling 3-3 draw with Chesterfield in the league last weekend, Rovers came into this game full of confidence. Centre-midfielder and captain Jordan Linley returned to the match day line up after a spell on the sideline, things were certainly looking up for Doncaster after their injury hit start to the season.
The hosts were quick out of the traps as they created their first chance inside the first five minutes. Some tricky footwork by Michael Carberry on the wing bamboozled the Dale defence, he pulled the ball back to the edge of the penalty box where Matty Parkin was situated but he fired his shot inches wide of the left post.
A long ball forward by centre-back Conner Williamson was expertly taken down by Joe Pugh, he somehow managed to get a cross into the box from a tight area, the ball found the head of Joey McCormick who was in acres of space but the young man headed the ball over Tom Dyche's crossbar.
Rovers had the best chance of the half on the 23rd minute after skipper Linley stung the palms of the Rochdale keeper. It was McCormick again who was at the centre of it all, he played a lovely square ball to the Linley who unleashed a thunderbolt from 20-yards but Dyche made an exceptional save to keep the scores level.
With 10 minutes of the half remaining Rovers had another chance to take the lead, this time is was a something special from the training ground. A free-kick by Linley was squared short to McCormick who played a delightful chipped ball over the static Dale defence to onside Pugh, he decided to lob the keeper but there was Raphael Chea to clear the ball off the line.
It could have been a different half time team talk from Academy Manager Paul Wilson as Rochdale nearly took the lead. A short throw in by Scherah was picked up by Brandon Smalley who took aim looking for the bottom right corner, luckily for Johnny Iveson in the Rovers goal it went wide of his post.
HALF TIME: Doncaster Rovers U18s 0-0 Rochdale U18s
It was Rovers again who could smell blood in the water, strong and commanding centre-back Kevin Mbuti won a 50/50 in the air, Pugh picked the ball up and played a defence splitting pass to Carberry, he then pulled the ball back to Longbottom but his effort was deflected wide for a corner.
The hosts finally took the lead four minutes after the hour mark, some slack defending by Rochdale as they presented the ball to Pugh, he decided to pull the trigger from 25-yards out which caught the keeper off-guard and the ball flew into his bottom right corner
The Lancashire side were looking for revenge sooner rather than later and they almost got it, Mata wriggled away from the Rovers defence and unleashed a powerful effort that was only just over Iveson's crossbar.
Rovers doubled their lead with 10 minutes of the game remaining, a training ground free kick from the home side paid off. A drilled ball on the floor by Parkin was flicked home by the advancing Pugh to give the hosts a comfortable lead heading into the home stretch.
Rochdale threw everything at Rovers in the closing stages of the match, and should have pulled one back. A long ball over the top by goalkeeper Dyche was picked up by substitute Matthew Gilam he tried to lob Iveson but the striker could not get the right power on his effort and it flew over the crossbar.
FULL TIME: Doncaster Rovers U18s 2-0 Rochdale U18s
DRFC STARTING XI: Iveson, Greasley, Carberry, Willamson, Barker, Mbuti, Parkin, Longbottom (Henderson 85'), Pugh, McCormick, Linley (C).
DRFC SUBS NOT USED: Fielding, Jones, Walker.
RAFC STARTING XI: Dyche, Chea (Gilam 58'), Scherah, Smalley, Coyne, Kisimba, Prescott (Price 58'), Berry, Pratt, Mata, Stewart.
RAFC SUBS NOT USED: Piggott, Evans, Collins.