Rochdale 2 Bristol Rovers 2

Last updated : 17 January 2004 By Footymad Previewer

Bristol Rovers were a different side after the interval when Phil Bater, in charge of the side in an emergency, switched from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3. He said: "In the first half we let them come to us and hoped they would make mistakes.

"They didn't and we had to change things round after the interval. The result was that we came from a difficult situation and came very near to winning it." In the first half the Rovers looked like a lost cause and Rochdale's teenage duo Patrick McCourt and Kevin Townson each grabbed a goal for the home side.

Goals which would have graced the Premier League, according to manager Steve Parkin.

Neat inter-passing in the penalty area let in McCourt to blast in the first on 19 minutes and 20 minutes later Townson got the second with a gem of a shot from just outside the angle of the penalty area.

Neither of these shots gave goalkeeper Kevin Miller half a chance.

Rochdale could have had more but missed their chances and in the second half they nearly got another through Kevin Donovan and again through Sean McClare.

But it was the Rovers who did the hard hitting towards the end. On 73 minutes Rochdale full-back Matt Doughty sliced a cross from the left into his own net and ten minutes after that substitute Junior Agogo turned another cross from the left past goalkeeper Neil Edwards for an equaliser.

There were other frights for Rochdale especially when goalkeeper Neil Edwards was hesitant in dealing with an innocuous back pass and nearly let the enemy in.

And again when substitute Paul Tait tried a long shot which beat the goalkeeper but flashed just wide.

Overall a draw was about a fair result. Rovers were tight lipped about why manager Ray Graydon had not travelled with his side and why Bater was in charge for the day but one member of the club said there would be a statement probably on Monday morning.

Bater said: "The club rang me up and asked me if I would be in charge for this game and I was glad to accept, even if it were only because I could sign my own claim for expenses which won't be coming back unsigned this time."