Rochdale boss John Coleman targets top spot after battling win over Bristol Rovers

By Aimee Howarth

Rochdale manager John Coleman has set his sights on a top spot finish as Rochdale came from a goal behind at Spotland to beat nine-man Bristol Rovers.

Rovers went ahead through a David Clarkson penalty but the hosts took the points thanks to Andrew Tutte’s strike and Bobby Grant’s deflected shot off Fabien Broghammer.

Rovers’ Gary Kenneth was dismissed for two yellows on the hour mark before Elliott Richard was shown a straight red in the last incident of the game to end a miserable afternoon for the Pirates.

The victory comes as only Rochdale’s third home win of the season but as they move into fifth spot in League Two, Coleman believes they can still pick up the pace to secure promotion.

“There were some great performances, some great attacking play and when we play with our tails up we’re a good side,” he told the club website.

“We’ve just got to keep going and try and keep focused as we’re only three points off second and I still don’t think we’ve hit top gear yet.

“When we play well we’re a good footballing side and we can’t get too focused on the fact that it’s a home game or an away game.”

Clarkson gave the visitors the lead inside 15 minutes after he was tripped by Peter Cavanagh but the home side equalised just before the hour mark as a dummy by Phil Edwards left Tutte to fire home.

Rovers’ keeper Neil Etheridge kept out efforts from Dale until the hour mark when Grant’s curling effort from the edge of the area deflected off Fabien Broghammer to seal victory.

But despite the win, Coleman admitted his side has things to improve on and said he is still hurting from their exit from the FA Cup after a 0-1 home defeat to Morecambe last week.

“We left ourselves a little bit loose at the back, that was an alarming thing I’d rather eradicate but when Josh [Lillis] was called upon he was magnificent,” he said.

“We probably had more shots on their goal today than we did in the previous three home games, which says a lot about how really how bad we have been at home.

“I’m still upset over Tuesday – that’s gone a little bit towards easing the pain but if we’ve had shown the appetite to try to make things happen like we did today we would still be in the FA Cup.”

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