Dale’s ten men


APOINT at home against Bris­tol Rovers was a de­cent re­turn in the con­text of this clash, which saw the home side play out the en­tire sec­ond half with just ten men.

If any­thing, Dale ac­tu­ally im­proved af­ter the dis­missal of Mag­nus Nor­man on the stroke of half time, though that is no re­flec­tion on the young goal­keeper, who pulled off a fine save to keep the scores level.

His re­place­ment, Josh Lil­lis, did like­wise twice af­ter the break in a half which saw Keith Hill’s men cre­ate enough chances to have won the match.

But Dar­rell Clarke, Hill’s op­po­site num­ber, could point to sev­eral good open­ings for his own side – the draw a fair re­flec­tion of an en­ter­tain­ing, end to end con­test.

Hill made a num­ber of changes to his start­ing line up with goal­keeper Nor­man back in at the ex­pense of Lil­lis. Har­ri­son McGa­hey re­placed Ryan De­laney, MJ Wil­liams came in for Cal­lum Camps, Matty Gil­lam for Andy Can­non and Brad In­man for Aaron Wil­bra­ham.

The game kicked off at a fright­ful pace, McGa­hey’s pin­point pass get­ting Ian Hen­der­son in be­hind the Bris­tol de­fence only for his cen­tre to be cut out by goal­keeper Jack Bon­ham while a Sam Hart cross was headed nar­rowly wide by Hen­der­son.

Kyle Ben­nett had Rovers’ first real chance of the night, flash­ing a shot wide of Nor­man’s goal when the ball dropped invit­ingly to him on the edge of the area.

Joe Part­ing­ton then sent a lethal de­liv­ery across the face of goal which just about eluded Ben­nett and was tapped out of play at the back post by Joe Raf­ferty with Scott Sin­clair sniff­ing around.

Rovers’ pe­riod of pres­sure con­tin­ued when McNulty’s way­ward pass was in­ter­cepted by Stefan Payne and he crashed a 20-yard drive against the un­der­side of Nor­man’s cross­bar, the ball for­tu­itously bounc­ing out to safety.

At the other end, Raf­ferty’s de­flected shot landed on Perkins’ boot, but with the ball spin­ning in the air he was un­able to guide his volleyed at­tempt on tar­get.

There was a blow for Dale mid­way through the first half when Gil­lam was forced to leave the field with what ap­peared a calf in­jury and he was re­placed by Jor­dan Wil­liams.

Rovers had a gilt-edged op­por­tu­nity to score when Liam Ser­combe skipped past McNulty on the edge of the area, the ball run­ning away from him but straight into the path of Ol­lie Clarke, who looked cer­tain to score un­til Nor­man raced off his line and blocked his shot with a fine stop.

Dale en­joyed a long pe­riod of pos­ses­sion them­selves which ended when In­man couldn’t quite get enough on a Rath­bone pull­back – and from the fol­low­ing Bris­tol at­tack, the ini­tia­tive swung the way of the vis­i­tors as Nor­man saw red.

The Dale stop­per had raced out of his area to chal­lenge Payne, who was chas­ing Bon­ham’s big kick down­field. The keeper was ad­judged to have fouled Payne in crash­ing into the Bris­tol man – and McNulty – and was duly dis­missed.

That meant McNulty giv­ing way for Lil­lis, whose first con­tri­bu­tion was to see Ser­combe’s sub­se­quent free-kick run wide of the post.

So goal­less at the break but down to ten men for the sec­ond half – a tough 45 min­utes lay ahead for the home side.

But Rath­bone quickly sig­nalled Dale’s in­tent with a curl­ing shot in the open­ing min­utes of the

Si­mon Hall

Josh Lil­lis pulled off two ex­cel­lent saves af­ter com­ing off the bench on Tues­day

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