Match Report: Doncaster Rovers 1 Rochdale 0

Doncaster Rovers' Rob Jones in action against Rochdale AFC.
Doncaster Rovers' Rob Jones in action against Rochdale AFC.

Bongali Khumalo’s late header let Rovers off the hook in a testing Capital One Cup clash with Rochdale.

The game appeared set for added time until the South Africa international glanced a header from a David Cotterill free kick past the impressive Josh Lillis a minute from time.

Paul Dickov targeted this game as a confidence builder following the frustration of a defeat on Saturday which flattered Blackpool.

But for long periods it looked as though there was to be another huge dose of frustration on the cards for Dickov’s men.

Bright starts to both halves faded in a particularly even clash, though Rochdale were certainly indebted to keeper Lillis for keeping them in the game for so long.

But the lack of a clinical threat in front of goal will continues to provide concern.

The visitors from League Two arguably played the better football over 90 minutes.

Keith Hill claimed his young side would stride into the Keepmoat brimming with confidence after their opening day mauling of Hartlepool.

And the former Barnsley boss was as good as his word as Rochdale played Rovers at their own game in fine style.

The game started at a terrific pace and it was Rovers setting the tempo in the early stages.

It was Rochdale who had the first real chance with Bastien Herry’s 20 yard stinger drawing a superb one handed save from Ross Turnbull.

And from the subsequent corner Dean Furman was in the right place at the right time to turn a header from Ashley Eastham off the line.

But Rovers quickly roared into life and began to find routes through the Rochdale defence.

Cotterill sent a low pass into Mark Duffy who fluffed his shot and Chris Brown powered his potshot wide.

Debutant Reece Wabara - an injury victim on 71 minutes - saw a 25 yard strike deflect wide before Chris Brown rattled the bar as he glanced a header from a Cotterill corner.

Rovers had a shout for a penalty when Duffy went down after he twisted and turned in the box but the midfielder did not have many complaints.

Rovers failed to maintain the early pace and Rochdale came into the game.

Turnbull produced an excellent reaction save after Scott Hogan’s shot deflected off Khumalo.

And Wellens produced a brave header to get in ahead of the prowling Herry just feet from the line.

Rovers roared out of the blocks in the second half but they met a brick wall in Lillis.

The former Scunthorpe keeper denied Coppinger again twice in quick succession, producing a pair of fingertip stops, sending one onto the bar and produced a point blank save to keep out Brown.

Dickov pushed men forward as the half wore on but Rochdale came into the game.

Ian Henderson and Joe Rafferty both went close from the edge of the area.

Just when extra time seemed a certainty, Cotterill clipped a long free kick into the box and Khumalo stretched to head past Lillis into the corner.

Building confidence has to start somewhere.

Rovers: Turnbull, Wabara (Quinn 71), Khumalo, Jones, Husband, Furman, Wellens, Duffy (Syers 63), Coppinger, Cotterill, Brown (Paynter 86).

Subs not used: Maxted, McCullough, Keegan, Bennett.

Rochdale: Lilis, Rafferty, Tutte, Lund, Eastham, Lancashire, Hogan (Donnelly 63), Herry (Henderson H-T), Done, Vicenti, O’Connell.

Subs not used: Thomson, Donnelly, Rose, Henderson, Logan, Allen, Bunney.