Rochdale v Bristol Rovers Match Preview


By Simon Gray

Bristol Rovers head to the Crown Oil Arena to take on Rochdale this weekend in a bid to avoid a third straight league defeat for the first time in over two years.

Having been given a hiding last time out, losing 4-0 at Shrewsbury, manager Darrell Clarke came out and apologised to the supporters and insisted that the defeat was on him.

Clarke has also spoken of how his side now are nothing like the set of players that were at the club when Rovers were relegated to non-league.

“We had frauds in the relegation year, frauds of players that didn’t want to give their all for the football club,” Clarke told the Bristol Post.

“But now I’ve got an honest set of lads who sometimes need a kick up the backside.

“They need a lot of confidence to make sure that doesn’t play with that fear factor.

“That’s crucial and key, that they don’t get sucked down, we’re trying to achieve a better finish than last season.

“They’re a bunch that care, I bought in players that care. We accept the response we got at Shrewsbury, we move on from it. It’s the pressure cooker industry we’re in.”

Rovers go into the game with no new injury worries but Darrell Clarke may choose to change tactics to avoid a third straight defeat. Rovers have been playing a 4-3-3 for most of the season which has seen them create a lot of chances but concede a lot of chances too.

Rochdale go into the game on a poor run of their own, going six games without a win in all competitions.

Dale sit 20th in the league and just one point above the relegation zone but after finishing in the top half of League One for the past three seasons, manager Keith Hill has said that they need to reach the bar that they have set.

“You’ve got to have a smile on your face in battle. You can only experience failure by being successful or striving to be successful,” Hill told the club’s website.

“We have a framework and we have a plan to be successful, and we have a plan and ambition to be more successful than any Rochdale team in the history of the football club.

“And we’ve set that bar. The players that we have at this moment in time, and previous players and teams that I’ve had, have set the bar. The bar is raised to a height that the club hasn’t been operating at in its history.

“It’s important that we use history to improve our opportunities going forward. You need brave players – it’s about having the courage to commit to giving everything you possibly can to be successful but risk failing as well.

“I’ve still got an expectation to be knocking on the door of the top ten come the end of the season.”


Both meetings between the sides last year ended in draws, 0-0 at Spotland and 2-2 at the Memorial Stadium.

Rovers have beaten Rochdale just once in their last seven matches against them.

In their last 11 visits to Rochdale, Rovers have come away with a win just once.

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