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Match Reports

Rochdale 0 Rovers 3

Goals from Smallwood, Antonsson and Graham ensure a third league win in a row

9 September 2017

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Rovers rewarded over 3,000 terrific travelling fans with a third straight league win, courtesy of a comfortable 3-0 victory over Rochdale.

Fans favourite Richie Smallwood opened the scoring on 10 minutes - volleying home Elliott Bennett's pin-point cross.

Swedish striker Marcus Antonsson doubled the visitors' advantage just before the hour mark, pouncing on a loose ball in the box to prod home his first goal in Rovers colours.

Rochdale rarely threatened the Rovers goal all afternoon, although M J Williams did see a shot clip the crossbar 15 minutes from time.

But moments later, substitute Danny Graham made the points safe, tapping the ball into an empty net following an error from Rochdale keeper Brendan Moore.

Ahead of the game, manager Tony Mowbray made one change to the side that defeated MK Dons in Rovers' last league outing.

Captain Charlie Mulgrew missed out with the ankle injury picked up on international duty with Scotland, which meant a Rovers debut for deadline day signing Paul Downing.

Fellow new boy Rekeem Harper was on the bench, along with Bradley Dack, who had recovered from a hamstring injury.

Craig Conway captained the side on his 150th appearance for the club.

After weathering a couple of early corners, Rovers registered the first effort of the game, on five minutes, but Antonsson volleyed well wide.

Five minutes later and Rovers took the lead. Having had his name sung throughout the early exchanges, Smallwood rewarded the raucous away fans with the opening goal.

Bennett crossed from the right and Smallwood arrived unmarked in the area to volley home his second Rovers goal.

On 18 minutes, Rovers came close to doubling their lead. Conway cut the ball back from the byline and Antonsson curled a shot inches wide of the far corner.

On 35 minutes, Dominic Samuel found Conway in space out left and after bursting into the box, his low shot was comfortably saved by Moore.

Rochdale's only effort at goal in the opening period came on the stroke of half-time, but Jordan Williams failed to threaten the target from the edge of the area.

Four minutes after the restart and Rovers should have added a second. Conway drilled a dangerous ball across the face of goal, Samuel miscued his kick, with the goal at his mercy, and Antonsson couldn't connect at the back post.

Moments later and Rovers had another great chance to extend their lead. Conway stood up a cross to the far post from the right and the unmarked Antonsson saw his downward header superbly saved by the legs of Moore.

With the visitors completely on top, the second goal duly arrived on 57 minutes. Conway crossed from the left, Samuel went up for the header, the ball dropped kindly for Antonsson, who stabbed home his first goal for the club.

Rovers made a couple of changes, with Dack and Harry Chapman coming on, and the Middlesbrough loanee was immediately involved, whipping in a free-kick, which Derrick Williams glanced goalwards, forcing Moore to tip the ball around the post.

Rochdale's best chance of the game arrived 15 minutes from time, when the ball dropped to M J Williams 25 yards out from goal and his thunderbolt strike clipped the top of the crossbar.

Rovers made the points safe four minutes later. Following a superb solo run by Chapman through the heart of the Rochdale defence,
Moore came out to smother the ball, but in the wet conditions, it slipped from his grasp and Graham was left with the simple task of tapping the ball into the unguarded net.

Graham had a chance for a second on 88 minutes, but he volleyed Bennett's floated cross high over the bar.

As two minutes of added time went up on the fourth official's board, Rovers had the ball in the back of the Rochdale net for a fourth time, as Chapman's cross-shot was tapped home by Dack, but he had just strayed offside.

Scunthorpe are up next for Mowbray's men, who will be looking to make it four wins on the bounce on Tuesday night.

ROCHDALE: Moore, McNulty, McGahey, J. Williams (Rathbone 58), M.J. Williams, Done, Davies (Gillam 81), Cannon, Daniels, Kitching (Inman 70), Bunney.

Subs not used: Lillis, Rafferty, Canavan, Brown.

ROVERS: Raya, Caddis, Ward, Downing, Williams, Smallwood, Evans, Bennett, Conway (Chapman 65), Antonsson (Dack 62), Samuel (Graham 75).

Subs not used: Leutwiler, Whittingham, Harper, Gladwin.

Goals: Smallwood (10), Antonsson (57), Graham (79)
Booked: Dack

Attendance: 6,524 (3,229 Rovers fans)

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