Acclimatisation, King of Ewood and Hard Work – 3 things we learnt from Rochdale

After Rovers’ resounding 3-0 win at Rochdale’s Crown Oil Arena, @tomrover looks at what we learnt from the game…

Richie Smallwood Rochdale
Richie Smallwood put in another man of the match performance, grabbing a goal as well as putting a strong midfield shift in.

Mowbray’s men picked up their third consecutive league win with a comfortable 3-0 win over Rochdale.

Rovers put in a solid performance to beat the home side, and although there is still parts of their game to fine-tune, it was great to see another dominant performance.

The first and second goals came from great buildup play. Smallwood’s through-ball to Bennett created the first goal, and he finished the piece of play off by meeting the winger’s cross. Antonsson’s goal came from brilliant passing play and showed that the Rovers team is slowly, but surely, starting to gel.

Antonsson
Antonsson was rewarded for his hard work during the game, with a goal at the back post – his first in Rovers’ colours.

Rovers’ third goal came from a goalkeeping mistake, but I was happy for Graham to get a goal, no matter how it comes.

If you haven’t read our review from the game, click here to read it.

There was several talking points to take from the game, here’s three of them:

Acclimatisation

Rovers seem to have finally gotten over their shaky start to the season, fingers crossed!

After a 1-0 win at Bradford, and the 4-1 victory over MK Dons, Rovers travelled to Rochdale and were able to show the quality they possess. Tony Mowbray made clear in his post-match press conference that this was the performance of a team finally acclimatised to the league they’re playing in.

This was a very important hurdle to overcome. The opening games showed that Rovers were going to have to adapt to become a force in this league and after their past 3 performances, fans are hopeful that it has actually happened.

Richie is still the King

For those that didn’t already know, Richie Smallwood once again proved why the fans sing that song.

His opening goal was quality and, once again, he was all over the pitch making challenge after challenge, and rarely gave the ball away. His presence in the Rovers’ midfield has been something we have missed sorely over the last few years.

It’s players like Richie Smallwood (and Corry Evans) that Rovers are going to rely on in games where the battle in midfield may be intense. He has proven more than once that he isn’t scared of making a tackle and long may it continue. His arrival has been a breath of fresh air and the Rovers faithful have been more than welcoming to their new “King”.

Hard Work

One thing that was missed from the opening day defeat at Southend, and the following home defeat to Doncaster, was hard work.

Second to the ball, and without any real fight, performances were not good. The opposite can be said here. Playing in a similar atmosphere to Southend, small ground, close to the pitch, Rovers could quite easily have collapsed.

However – unlike at Southend – Rovers took the game to Rochdale, particularly in the second half, and ran out deserved winners. Quality can only get you so far, and Rovers will need to show more hard work if they are to continue to win games in League One.

Rochdale, the previous away game to Bradford and at home to MK Dons, proved that we are capable of that hard work. Now Rovers have shown that they can battle, and can fight, it has to continue. They cannot take their foot off the gas and think that the league will be easy.

It certainly won’t be.

Come on you Blues!