Bristol Rovers player ratings: Two score 8/10 in narrow win vs Rochdale

Scott Sinclair’s first ever goal in his first ever start for Bristol Rovers was enough to seperate the two sides

The 33-year-old was found alone at the back post from a James Gibbons flick on, and sent his side to the next round of the FA Cup, in a game he was hugely influential in.

The first chance of the game went to Rovers’ Aaron Collins, who was found by a ball from deep by Bobby Thomas. The Welshman went past Jimmy Keohane however his shot was easy for Richard O’Donnell to get down to.

Collins could’ve opened the scoring again, when he was found just inside the Rochdale area by Scott Sinclair mid-way through the first half, however his shot was scuffed and rolled past the post, much to the relief of O’Donnell.

Bobby Thomas had a lucky escape right at the end of the first half, when his sliding challenge across the box bounced the ball off the post, and into the hands of the grateful James Belshaw.

The visitors had the best chance of the game early on in the second half, when Ian Henderson disposessed Thomas facing his own goal, however luckily for the Burnley loanee his effort curled past the post.

Rovers’ domination continued into the hour mark, however the Rochdale defence stood firm until substitute Harvey Saunders chased down what seemed like a lost ball, winning a corner.

The corner was flicked on by James Gibbons, finding Sinclair alone at the back post, netting on his first ever start for Bristol Rovers, weeks into his second stint.

Sinclair could’ve sealed his homecoming with a win, when the ball dropped to him inside the box just minutes later however he was denied at point-blank range by O’Donnell yet his strike was enough to send his side into the second round.

With that in mind, here’s our player ratings from the narrow win.

James Belshaw - 7

The shot-stopper made numerous good saves in the first half, not knowing that the majority were offside, however dealt well with the few shots faced on his goal.

Lewis Gordon - 6

Another solid game from the 21-year-old, however struggled one-on-one against the tricky Abraham Odoh.

James Connolly - 6

Making his first start since August, the defender looked to be targeted by the experienced Ian Henderson. Connolly got the ball a lot with his side dominating posession however his passes forward were often ill-aimed.

Bobby Thomas - 6

Thomas had his blushes spared at the end of the first half, when he tried to cut out a ball across the box. His sliding effort bounced off the post and into his keepers’ hands . It was another lucky escape for Thomas early in the second half, when Henderson disposessed him facing his own goal, however the effort curled round the post.

James Gibbons - 7

Gibbons was a constant option down the right hand side and made a crucial interception in the first half, stopping John from having a tap in at the back post. Flicked the ball beautifully towards the back post, where Sinclair was waiting.

Jordan Rossiter - 8

Rossiter continued his good form of late, being that pivitol role in the Rovers midfield and dictating the play, allowing Finley and Evans to try to create further forward.

Sam Finley - 6

The stand-in captain had a game to forget for the most part, however almost created the opener when he worked tirelessly to rob Jimmy Keohane of the ball and create a good chance for McCormick.

Antony Evans - 6 (Glenn Whelan 78’)

Wasn’t able to show his quality in the first half, however found Gibbons well from a corner, creating the opener.

Luke McCormick - 5 (Harvey Saunders 62’)

Struggled to get into the game and was substituted just after the hour mark.

Aaron Collins - 7

The Welshman could’ve opened the scoring twice in the first half, and League One’s second top goalscorer would’ve been kicking himself when he saw his tame first effort saved by O’Donnell, and his second scuff past the post. Collins improved in the second, and on another day could’ve received a number of assists.

Scott Sinclair - 8 (Trevor Clarke 78’)

In what was a dull first half for the most part, Sinclair was the only bright spark. He created the best chance of the first half when he found Collins unmarked in the area. He netted the opener when he was found alone at the back post, scoring on his first start after his return to the club, and was substituted with just over ten to go, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd after being comfortably the best player on the pitch.

Harvey Saunders - 7

His hard work created the opener, when he wouldn’t give up on what seemed like an overhit ball from Jordan Rossiter, awarding his side a corner their goal came from. Saunders will be begging for a league start next weekend after a substitute performance like that.

Trevor Clarke - 6

Sent on to close out the game with ten to go, and should’ve scored when he was found yards out from the goal by Aaron Collins late on.

Glenn Whelan - 6

The 38-year-old was sent on to add security to the rovers midfield and he provided that.