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Report: Dale 3 Middlesboro 2
Wednesday, 25th Jul 2018 06:36 by Col

Dale continued their winning ways with their fourth victory of preseason on the trot after coming back from 2-0 to beat highly favoured Championship side Middlesboro.

For me, the first half performance was better than either half's performance against Hull despite going in at half time 1-0 down.

We lined up as:
......................................Lillis...............................................
......................McGahey WIlliams (MJ) Ntlhe......................
Cannon ..................................................................Williams
........................Perkins Henderson Adshead.......................
................................Andrew Thompson..............................

A bit like that anyway. Perkins was in front of the back three, which allowed the two wing backs to pretty much play as wingers rather than full backs pushing up. Henderson was everywhere, and even seemed to find a new level of mobility on last season.

The first half was more open than Saturday and perhaps the one surprise was that there was only one goal in it.

It was Adshead's first game since all the speculation about a switch to United started up but there was no concerns about the eyes of the world* being on him (if the world consisted of 909 people). if anything, he flourished and some of his passing was way beyond his years. As remarked close by to me, he seems to instinctively know just how much weight to put on a pass.

Boro took the lead. Andy Cannon got caught out on his wing, and a fit looking Boro side were in for the kill as they stormed down the wing before crossing to an unmarked Ashley Fletcher to head home.

That aside, it was mostly Dale in possession and you couldn't help but be impressed by some of the displays. MJ Williams again looked decent in the middle of defence, and Harrison McGahey was outstanding.

There were chances for both sides. Former Posh striker Assombalonga forced a great save out of Lillis, and Jordan Williams had a low drive well saved by Wood at the other end.

Perkins was brought off at half time, and we seemed to lose that bit of stability when he went off allowing Middlesboro into the game more than they were in the first half. I know its preseason but he brings so much to our game that was lacking last season.

We went 2-0 down when Williams struggled to track his marker allowing him a run at goal before driving the ball past Lillis.

The usual preseason changes kicked in and left the game a little disjointed but we seemed to cope with them better than the opposition did and it showed not lack of attacking intent.

Comeback goal number one came via Calvin Andrew. Sub Brad Inman crossed the ball for a relatively simple headed goal for Calvin past the former Bury and Oldham keeper Ripley.

The second came with five minutes to go. Great work by Wilbraham saw him cross a ball from seemingly an impossible situation to Brad Inman who fired home the equaliser.

You'll often hear in football about teams scoring with the last kick of the game, but we literally did in this. Good passing by Adshead saw Inman cross the ball. It was initially well saved by Riply before Rathbone knocked home the winner.

A word of praise for Ntlhe who nearly came close to scoring the goal of his life twice. The first was a header wherein he seemed to defy all logic by jumping and twisting in such a way to beat a man many inches taller but it sneaked past the far post and minutes later, he attempted an overhead kick that I've no doubts he'll be ribbed mercilessly for in the changing rooms but it was an excellent attempt and proof of the inner confidence within the camp at the moment.

A good work out and plenty of positives. If we're looking at signs of being better than last year, then there plenty to pick out. Perkins brings us a it of worldliness to the midfield, and that in itself has somehow made the defence look more of a unit no matter who is playing amongst them. We've got a confidence and a real attacking intent. We scored three goals but it could have been more - too often last year, we might have scored but showed little else apart from that.

It's far too early to start ordering the bunting but it looks like a Dale side that just can't wait to get going and Burton away can't come quick enough for them.

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Photo: Action Images



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