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Report: Dale 1 Rotherham 2
Report: Dale 1 Rotherham 2
Sunday, 15th Mar 2009 14:20

Two second half goals from the visitors ensured that the weekend remained pointless for Dale, though we remained in the top three. Report now online.

First half, and it seemed like we were on for business as usual. Expectancy was high, and with talk even getting to the stage where automatic promotion was being openly discussed without huge amounts of "if", it was clear that the three thousand crowd was looking forward to another Dale win.

But with Tuesday's star man Will Buckley absent from the matchday squad, there was a recall for Adam Rundle, fresh from paternal duties, and other than that, it was the same as Tuesday with Mark Jones retained in midfield alongside Keltie.

There was very little in the first half to suggest that we'd be having any sort of trouble. We weren't exactly firing on all cylinders but you'd have to be a right miserable sod to say that we were playing badly, and there was always the suspicion of chances. I say suspicion because we seemed to get a lot of the ball in good areas, and things which looked like they might develop into something more than what it actually did.

We had quite a lengthy spell where we were up against ten men. Annual wind up and relegation fodder Drewe Broughton was forced off the field after receiving a cut after a foul he inflicted on Rory McArdle. Blood was pouring from his head at some rate, and even an initial stitch up by the physio and a change of shirt didn't do him any favours.

In reality, Broughton should have been red carded early on. Not for his usual elbows antics that thankfully he didn't bring with him, but for Bjorn Borg style sweatbands on his wrists. He even attempted to come back on with a matching Steve Foster style headband. All that was missing was his John Barnes shorts and he'd have become a Panini legend.

 Anyway, after the best efforts of the physio and medical team, Broughton was unable to return to the pitch, forcing an early sub for the opposition as Dale had failed to take advantage of their numerical superiority.

The rest of the half continued to open up like Broughton's gash, but you could almost sense a reluctance on both sides' parts to over commit to the attack and when the whistle went for half time, both sides left the field fairly satisfied with their work so far.

The second half kicked off and within earshot of where I was stood, I heard one supporter recount his summary of the game so far. No sooner had the words "..... and they don't look like scoring" come out of his mouth, then former Dale loanee Reuben Reid with back to goal and Wiseman tooked up behind, took advantage of an attempted challenge by Stanton, and he turned and fired home to give Rotherham the lead.

That lead worked perfectly for Rotherham's game plan. As a well organised and hard working side, it allowed them to dictate the play from that point on, and they could have added to their lead on a couple of occasions, including one glaring opportunity from Burchill and a great save from Fielding at the feet of Reuben Reid.

But the a second goal did come, and it was a goal which earned a decent amount of applause from the Dale supporters, such was the quality of it. Fresh from a Dale attack, Rotherham broke quickly and their right winger produced a finish very similar to the goal we conceded to Darlington in the Play Offs last season. You couldn't say it wasn't deserved at that point.

But seconds after the same informed supporter who had previouslydeclared Rotherham as unthreatening, remarked upon Nicky Adams' inability to beat a man and get a decent ball over, he did just that.

With a great piece of football from the former Bury man, he went past their right after a couple of shimmies and produced an inch perfect cross to the centre of the six yard line where Alfie headed it home to come up with his fifteenth League goal of the season, putting him third in the top scorers list for League Two. There wasn't even time for the butterfly thing as the focus was on getting the ball out of the to launch the come back.

At this point, you'd have put money on Dale grabbing an equaliser. Indeed, if I'm being honest, I'd even started looking beyond the equaliser and started wondering whether all three points might be on the cards. The goal certainly gave us a lift and we took the game to the opposition from that point on. It might not have been quite alamo stuff but all of a sudden, we were playing with an added purpose.

The comeback was thwarted, when an unnecessary challenge just on the edge of the penalty box saw the Millers awarded a spot kick. There could have been no doubt about the decision but what followed will go down as one of the most bizarre moments ever seen at Spotland.

Taking inspiration from Bruce Grobbwhatsisface back in the European Cup final (that's the Champions League kids when it was just for Champions), Fielding took it to a completely different level. As Reid stood ready to take his spot kick, Fielding started waving at him like he was some sort of mentalist, whilst pointing to Fielding's right. It was almost a taunting of Reid, daring him to put it where he was told to.

It worked. Reid blasted, and it cannoned into orbit off the crossbar. Reid raced in and headed in the rebound but in a Paul Simpson stylee, the goal was rightfully ruled out as no one else had touched the ball. Some criticised Reid for going in for it, but instinct would have took over. As it was, the goal may well have been chalked out anyway for a push by Reid on Fielding as he raced in for the header.

That save left us around ten minutes to chase the game, and with Rory McArdle adding to the forward line as a makeshift striker, we couldn't have been accused of not going for it, but a resolute Rotherham defence and a keeper happy to eat up as many of the remaining seconds as he could ensured that we were to be condemned to our second home defeat in three matches.

The post-match feeling seemed to surround how the side could play so well against Bradford on Tuesday, yet "not show" against Rotherham just four days later. Tiredness has been cited as an issue by Hilly and there's no doubting that the last two games will have taken their toll, both physically and mentally.

But with practically every other result going our way, we maintained our position in an automatic promotion position, and I think its important that we look upon that as being fortune smiling upon us, rather trying to work out what the table could have looked like had we got the result at Spotland that we'd been hoping for.

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