Doncaster Rovers 1-0 win over Rochdale is innocuous but invaluable

WIN: Darren MooreWIN: Darren Moore
WIN: Darren Moore
Innocuous is probably the best way to describe Doncaster Rovers' 1-0 win over Rochdale as they quietly upped the pressure on new League One leaders Hull City.

When a mini-scuffle broke out in the 83rd minute, a foul by full league debutant Anthony Greaves resulting in a booking for Kwadwo Baah, it was good to see a little life in a game which had been far too sheepish.

It got better from there on, with Greaves and Tom Anderson heroically defending the clean sheet but Doncaster did enough, claiming the win through Jon Taylor's first-half goal.

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This was another game ticked off in their quest for promotion. They still trail Hull – second on the morning – by three points with two games in hand.

Rochdale play a pleasing but too often inoffensive brand of football and in the opening half-hour Doncaster were lured into a very polite game, both sides happy to stand off whilst the team in possession stroked the ball around.

Taylor had a couple of early shots blocked from Taylor Richards passes in the opening 10 minutes, whilst Dale preferred to do their shooting from distance. It rarely troubled Ellery Balcombe, though that was partly due to the hunger of the defenders in front of him.

In a short sequence of play in the 11th minute Anderson and Matt Smith threw themselves in front of consecutive Baah shots, and when the ball came out to Stephen Dooley, Andy Butler did likewise.

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Generally, though, it was all a little too tepid until Smith, playing as one of the midfield pivots decided to go a bit direct, hitting a diagonal pass from the left-back position which right-back Brad Halliday headed back from the byline beyond the far post. Taylor latched onto it to open the scoring after 32 minutes.

Balcombe was trying to entertain himself by playing sweeper-keeper, popping up a couple of times between the centre-backs as they passed it around under no pressure 30 yards out.

Greaves, making his first league start alongside Smith, did well to get himself out of the trouble Balcome played him into, and the goalkeeper was a microsecond off dwelling on the ball as Stephen Humphrys bore down sensing an instant equaliser. His only save of the half came from a deflected shot by striker, and was comfortable enough.

Seeing all Doncaster's other attacking players to the left of the taker as the second half restarted hinted the hosts might mix it up a bit more after the interval, but it was not the case.

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Jason Lokilo surprisingly came on for Taylor after the hour but although he was able to add a bit of oomph, one beautiful touch to bring down a Butler ball apart and what was inches away from being a wonderful through-ball to Feijiri Okenabirhie before it was cut out, it amounted to little.

Inevitably, Rochdale had some glimmer in the final quarter but the first was wasted, the last stuff strangled at birth.

When Halliday pulled Baah back in the 77th minute, Aaron Morley sent over a free-kick which deserved much more than Humphrys' header way over the bar.

An excellent run from Baah nine minutes later was ended in typical Anderson fashion, the new captain throwing himself in the way of the shot.

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Greaves had made a very good impression in the centre of midfield but nearly blotted it with a foul on the edge of the area three minutes into stoppage time. He redeemed himself with a last-ditch tackle as Humphreys' shot hit the wall but broke through it.

The job was done.

Doncaster Rovers: Balcombe; Halliday, Anderson, Butler, John; Smith, Greaves; Taylor (Lokilo 62), Richards (Williams 62), Simoes (Amos 89); Okenabirhie (Wright 90).

Unused substitutes: Jones, Horton, Blythe.

Rochdale: Bazunu; McLaughlin, Roberts, Morley, Keohane; Dooley, Lund, Rathbone, Baah; Humphrys, Beesley (Newby 54).

Unused substitutes: Lynch, Done, Tavares, Hopper, Brierley, Dunne.

Referee: S Stockbridge (Tyne and Wear)

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