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Rochdale 2 Rovers 3

13 October 2018

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James Coppinger was at his best as he inspired Rovers to victory at Rochdale, creating all three goals for his side.

Ali Crawford marked his first league start since returning from a knee injury with the opening goal, with Coppinger also provided the deliveries for Andy Butler and Jermaine Anderson to seal the points.

Rovers made two changes, with Crawford making his second start of the season in place of the suspended Herbie Kane and Alfie May - fresh from his brace against Grimsby Town in midweek - replacing Mallik Wilks.

Blustery conditions contributed to a scrappy opening, with the home side first to threaten when Niall Mason had to be alert to block Bradden Inman’s shot after good work from Zach Clough.

John Marquis got Rovers’ first shot on goal after 10 minutes when he created space on the edge of the area, but his low shot lacked the power to really trouble Josh Lillis who got down quickly and held the ball well.

Rovers took the lead through a well-worked goal after 20 minutes. Niall Mason played in James Coppinger down the right, and his cross into the area found Crawford to smash home his first goal for the club into the top right corner.

The home side reacted will to the goal, pushing Rovers back - Mason got in some vital interceptions on Dale captain Ian Henderson, while Andy Butler charged down Bradden Inman.

Left-back Kgosi Ntlhe threatened twice from a corner, while right-back Joseph Rafferty also fired wide with a low drive.

Marko Marosi was equal to everything that was on target, with the Slovakian at full-stretch to stop an Henderson effort that looked destined for a top corner.

And when he was beaten, his defence and the woodwork came to his rescue - Wright blocked a Henderson shot off the line, before the Dale captain clipped the rebound off the top of the bar and over.

While the home side were left wondering how they had not levelled, Rovers twice went close in first-half stoppage time.

Lillis had to get down quickly to hold Matty Blair’s shot, then moments later Marquis tried a shot from just inside the area which crashed back off the inside of a post.

There were no changes from either side at the break, and Rovers doubled their advantage four minutes after the restart.

A corner delivery from Coppinger was perfect for the onrushing Butler, who headed home his first of the campaign.

The two-goal cushion survived as long as the hour-mark when Henderson cooly converted a penalty.

The home side pushed for an equaliser, with Marosi adjusting his positioning quickly to stop a deflected effort from MJ Williams.

But 10 minutes later and Rovers restored their two-strike advantage with Coppinger again the creator.

He looked to be in an innocuous position on the right, but with the option of an easy pass into the path of Mason, instead delivered a sumptuous cross to the far post where Anderson - who had replaced Crawford earlier in the half - was on hand to poke home his first for the club.
That was not the end of the goalscoring, though, with Ntlhe stabbing the ball home from a later corner for the hosts.

Wright cleared a late Andrew header off the line, but Rovers then saw out the game to claim all three points.


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