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Match Reports

Report: Rochdale 1 Rovers 1 (5-3 on pens)

Read all about Tuesday's Checkatrade Trophy match at the Crown Oil Arena

7 November 2017

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Joe Nuttall scored his third goal in as many games as 10-man Rovers drew 1-1 with Rochdale in their final Checkatrade Trophy group game.

Rovers were forced to play over an hour with 10 men after Scott Wharton - making his first appearance of the season - was shown a straight red card for a high challenge on 28 minutes.

However, the visitors opened the scoring on 42 minutes when Elliott Bennett delivered a pin-point cross from the right and Nuttall netted with a crisp first-time volley.

Nuttall, who led the line brilliantly on his own up front, came close to a second on the hour mark, before Rochdale equalised on 72 minutes when Kgosi Ntlhe's centre was slotted home by former Rovers striker Jordan Slew.
With no further goals in regulation time, the game went to penalties.

Richie Smallwood saw his spot-kick saved, whilst Rochdale scored all five of their penalties to secure the extra point.

Rovers must now wait on the outcome of tomorrow's game between Bury and Stoke City Under-21s to see if they progress through to the knockout phase.

Ahead of the game, Rovers manager Tony Mowbray made eight changes to the side that beat Barnet in the FA Cup at the weekend - with Ben Gladwin, Sam Hart and Rekeem Harper the only survivors.

In-form striker Nuttall, who had netted in each of Rovers' last two outings as a substitute, was rewarded with a first senior start, while Dominic Samuel and Smallwood were back from bans. 

Andy Fisher, who played in the two previous group games, started in goal in place of Jayson Leutwiler, who had picked up a thigh strain. 

Corry Evans and Charlie Mulgrew were both away on international duty, while Derrick Williams, Bradley Dack and Danny Graham were given the night off. 

The first chance of the game went Rochdale's way on 12 minutes when Joseph Bunney's corner found the unmarked Ntlhe, but he couldn't direct his header on target.

Rovers registered their first effort of note on 21 minutes when Bennett's deep cross fell kindly for Smallwood, whose goal-bound shot was blocked by Oliver Rathbone.

On 27 minutes, a long clearance by Fisher was flicked on by Nuttall to Samuel, whose attempted lob from 35 yards out sailed just wide of the target.

A minute later and the big talking point in the game arrived as Rovers were reduced to 10 men. Wharton misjudged his challenge on Bunney and the defender was shown a straight red card for a high foot. 

It was harsh on the 20-year-old as there was clearly no malicious intent. 

As a result, Rovers were forced to sacrifice a forward in favour of a defender, with Platt coming on for the unfortunate Samuel.

Rochdale went close moments later, as Slew unleashed a rasping drive from the edge of the area, which forced a smart save from Fisher.

Rovers then had an even better chance, as Bennett delivered a corner from the left and the unmarked Nuttall headed wide from six yards out.  

Rochdale didn't heed the warning as the same Rovers duo combined to open the scoring just before the break. Bennett swung over an inch-perfect cross from the right and Nuttall arrived right on cue to volley home his third goal in as many games.  

Rovers rode their luck on the stroke of half-time, as Slew volleyed wide with the goal at his mercy, before Bunney headed wide from close range.

The hosts made a double change shortly after the restart, bringing on Matthew Done and Bradden Inman, but it was Rovers who almost doubled their lead on the hour mark.

Fisher launched a long goal kick downfield, Nuttall won the race to the ball ahead of Harrison McGahey, but the young striker fired just wide of the near post. 

Rovers threatened again on 66 minutes when Gladwin went for goal from a free-kick 30 yards out, but Josh Lillis made a routine save.  

However, the hosts equalised on 72 minutes. A deep cross from the right was headed back across goal by Ntlhe and Slew side-footed home from close range. 

Slew came close to a second on 89 minutes, but he fired inches wide of the far post.

Three minutes of added time passed without incident and so it went straight to penalties.

The first five spot-kicks were all successful, before Smallwood saw his penalty suberly saved.

Matthew Gillam and Bunney then converted the final two penalties, as Rochdale won the shoot-out 5-3 to secure the bonus point. 

The outcome of the other Group C game between Bury and Stoke City Under-21s will now determine Rovers' fate in the competition.

ROCHDALE: Lillis, Rafferty, Ntlhe, Canavan (Gillam 70), McGahey, Slew, Camps, J. Williams (Done 52), Rathbone (Inman 53), Adshead, Bunney. 
Subs not used: Moore, Cannon, Morley, Kitching.  

Goal: Slew (72) 

ROVERS: Fisher, Nyambe, Ward, Wharton, Hart, Bennett, Harper, Smallwood, Gladwin, Samuel (Platt 31), Nuttall. 
Subs not used: Raya, Caddis, Travis, Whittingham, Rankin-Costello, Antonsson. 

Goal: Nuttall (42)
Booked: Hart.
Sent off: Wharton. 

Attendance: 1,080 (297 Rovers fans)

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