Ten men Rovers lost in a penalty shootout in their final Checkatrade Trophy Group game, as Rochdale triumphed 5-3 on penalties after it finished 1-1 after ninety minutes.
Rovers played over two-thirds of the game without Scott Wharton, after he was sent off on 28 minutes for a high challenge on Joe Bunney.
Joe Nuttall bagged his fourth goal of the season for the senior team on 42 minutes, but Rovers reject Jordan Slew levelled matters to take the game to a penalty shootout.
After a quiet opening, the first real chance arrived on 12 minutes, as Kgosi Ntlhe headed wide from a Joe Bunney corner. Rovers responded on 21 minutes when Richie Smallwood saw his effort blocked by Oliver Rathbone.
Six minutes later, a flick on from Joe Nuttall found Dominic Samuel but his attempted lob just went wide of the target.
Barely a minute later came the game’s major talking point.
Rovers were reduced to ten men just before the half-hour mark with centre back Scott Wharton shown a straight red card following a high challenge on Rochdale’s Joe Bunney. The red card seemed harsh and for the level of the game, a yellow card would’ve been sufficient. Matty Platt came on for Samuel as Rovers looked to tighten things up at the back.
Seizing the initiative, Rochdale nearly went in front as former Rover Jordan Slew found a yard in the area getting his shot away, only for Andy Fisher to be equal to it with a smart reaction save. Rovers responded with 7 minutes to go as a Ben Gladwin corner was swung in but Nuttall’s just went wide of the target.
Four minutes later, the Nutt was fed when the Rovers #38 put the ten men ahead. A burst of pace from Elliott Bennett saw the stand-in skipper deliver a brilliant ball into the box & Nuttall was on hand to emphatically volley home for his third goal in as many games. That proved to be the last action of the half as Rovers lead 1-0 after the first forty-five minutes.
The second half started with the hosts making a double change to get back into the game with Matty Done and Brad Inman replacing Rathbone & Jordan Williams, but Rovers created the first chance of the half on the hour mark. Nuttall beat Harrison McGahey to the ball but fired wide.
Six minutes later, Gladwin had a chance from 30 yards but Josh Lillis in the Dale goal got down well to make a routine save.
Rovers were left to rue those missed chances on 72 minutes. A deep cross was flicked on by Ntlhe, and Slew was there to slot home the equalizer. Just a few minutes after, the former Rovers man than had the chance to win it for the hosts but fired inches wide of the post.
Deadlocked after 90 minutes, the contest was decided on penalties – using the ABBA format.
The first five penalties were scored, leaving Richie Smallwood as the next man to step up. The “King Of Ewood”, however, saw his spot-kick saved by Josh Lillis giving the home side the edge. Elliott Bennett briefly levelled things up but penalties from Matt Gillam & Bunney saw Rovers miss out on the illustrious bonus point.
We asked our Twitter followers (@rovers_chat) for their views on last night’s game. Here’s a collection of the replies.
— Rovers Chat (@rovers_chat) November 7, 2017
Would have preferred to see us progress, but not too fussed we are out of it.
— ㅤً (@TalkOfEwood) November 7, 2017
Hate to see us lose, but ultimatly not important. League MUST be priority.
— Lee Hilton (@The12thRover) November 7, 2017
Still a SLIM chance of qualifying but can’t see it. Those lads did well considering playing with 10 men for 60 minutes.
— Luke Thornley (@lthornley1) November 7, 2017
Not bothered in all fairness. League season is mental with plenty of games and much travel. This causes too many problems and distractions
— Blackburn Roverseas (@roverseas) November 7, 2017
I think that we should go out to win every game and with no game on Saturday we could have played a stronger side.
— Tony Bainbridge (@tonybainbridge1) November 7, 2017
Rovers can now only qualify if Stoke U21s beat Bury on penalties tonight at Gigg Lane.
Mowbray’s men will be back in action on the 18th November, away to Bury.
Rochdale Line Up: Lillis, Rafferty, Ntlhe, Canavan (Gillam 70), McGahey, Slew, Camps, J. Williams (Done 52), Rathbone (Inman 53), Adshead, Bunney.
Subs not used: Moore (GK), Cannon, Morley, Kitching.
Goal: Slew (72)
Rovers Line Up: Fisher, Nyambe, Ward, Wharton, Hart, Bennett, Harper, Smallwood, Gladwin, Samuel (Platt 31), Nuttall.
Subs not used: Raya (GK), Travis, Caddis, Whittingham, Rankin-Costello, Antonsson.
Goal: Nuttall (42)
Sent Off: Wharton
Thanks for reading. Click here to see all of our reaction to the Checkatrade Game.