3pm, Saturday 11th December 2021
The Memorial Stadium
The Gas welcome Rochdale to The Memorial Stadium for a mid-table League Two clash.
Rochdale sit one position ahead of Bristol Rovers, with a single point separating the two teams. Both teams are on a run of poor form so this on paper would look like a very probable draw.
After the positive performance against Port Vale whilst playing with less players, I am hopeful that The Gas can repeat the performance and come away with a win on Saturday. It is getting to the point in the season where teams with promotion aspirations (i.e. us) should be kicking on and moving positively up the table. I feel if we are still in this position by the end of January then that will be our season done.
The Gas win a highly entertaining six-goal match in dramatic fashion. Rochdale gave a good account of themselves and will be disappointed not to have got something from the match. In truth, this should have been a comfortable win for The Gas, who were excellent at times.
The first half started brightly with Rochdale creating the early chances, forcing Belshaw into making another one of his customary one-on-one saves.
By the tenth minute, though, Bristol Rovers began to exert pressure and were rewarded by a free kick in a central position just outside the box after some fine footwork by Aaron Collins. Anthony Evans stepped up and calmly placed the free kick in the top right corner, sparking a Gas explosion. A beautiful finish and the perfect way to start the game!
The remainder of the first half was all Bristol Rovers, and we really should have been two or three goals up at the break. It was only 1-0 though, and Rochdale were still in the game.
Really enjoyable first half, lots of goal action. very positive performance. They only thing missing was the second or third goal to finish Rochdale off. We really do need to take advantage of periods where we dominate.
Bristol Rovers got the crucial second goal after 51 minutes, with a trademark Aaron Collins strike from outside the area. The move began down the left side, with Collins running at the Rochdale defence. he jinked inside and let fly with a stunning curved shot to the Rochdale top right corner. Their goalkeeper had no chance. At this point, The Gas were cruising and looking like taking all three points in emphatic style.
Rochdale, though, had other ideas and sprung to life. The remainder of the second half was a much more even affair, with Rochdale having a lot of possession and creating wave after wave of attack. Why they waited until they were two goals down before attacking is beyond me, they looked really dangerous.
Belshaw once again played his part with a series of excellent saves, including a wonder goal line save on 55 minutes. I seem to say this every week, he is an excellent keeper.
Rochdale stuck on the hour mark with a soft goal, from a cross on the right side. The Rochdale attacker pulled off a cheeky flick from two yards with his right foot as the ball passed behind him. Belshaw had no chance and it was game on again.
Five minutes later the unthinkable happened and the game was level, following a penalty to Rochdale. The foul was on the left side of the box, on the other side of the pitch from me. From my viewpoint it did look like a penalty. Just a badly timed tackle. For the next fifteen minutes, it was all Rochdale and there was only one side looking like winning the game, and it was not us. We were sitting deep, inviting Rochdale on to us and failing to keep possession during a worrying scrappy period of the game.
With the game entering the final stages, I was starting to think about writing how another two points have been dropped, so typical of this season, etc, when the game exploded into life again. Two goals in five minutes from Harry Anderson and Aaron Collins turned a sour point into a happy days victory! Amazing scenes at the North Terrace end with what I assume was Aaron Collins being lifted onto some Gashead’s shoulders. Happy days indeed!
I really like the look of Collins and Nicolson up front, with Evans just behind. They press, are mobile and work well together. Coutts and Whelen were solid in the centre of midfield. Our new-look defense struggled at times, although I like Luca Hoole a lot and thought he did well at times.
The Gas go home happy in the end, we sure do like to make life difficult for ourselves! Today’s win takes us up to 15th position in the table, seven points off the playoffs.