Bristol Rovers turned in a performance of true grit and resilience to notch up another away win with success at Rochdale, writes Stephen Knowlson.

A week after coming from 2-0 down to draw against Portsmouth, Graham Coughlan’s men weathered a massive second half storm from the Dale to secure a valuable victory which leaves us a point shy of the playoffs.

The Rovers gaffer changed formation for the trip to the Crown Oil Arena, opting to play five across midfield with Victor Adeboyejo as the lone frontman. I suspect the gaffer was forced into the change due to the injury to main striker Jonson Clarke-Harris and the indifferent form of his remaining forwards, although the recent losses against Bolton and Doncaster may indicate that teams had worked out how to play against Coughlan’s favoured 3-5-2 formation.

Rovers were quickly out of the blocks as Adeboyejo hooked in a Tony Craig header from close range inside eight minutes and then doubled their lead just three minutes later after O’Connell put through his own net following a wicked Michael Kelly cross.

The Gas were largely untroubled for the rest of the opening period, looking defensively solid right up to when Callum Camps netted for the home side shortly before the break.

Rochdale came out for the second half in determined mood and the rest of the match was very much a valiant rearguard action from Coughlan’s troops. The home side bossed possession but the Rovers defence largely stood firm, and when they were breached Rochdale found our Finnish international keeper, Anssi Jaakkola, in inspired form. He made a number of important blocks, including one world-class save when everyone in the stadium thought a goal was a certainty.

With a third of the season gone Rovers are well-placed to kick on and the return from injury of players like JCH, Tom Davies and Tareiq Holmes-Dennis will further improve our chances of fighting for a playoff place in the coming weeks.

Before we return to league action on 16th November a tricky looking FA Cup match at home to table-topping National League side Bromley awaits the team this Sunday.