Match Report: Wrexham 0-0 Dale
Sunday, 10th Nov 2019 23:30 by AtThePeake
Dale managed to avoid a potential cup upset by the skin of their teeth with a goalless draw away at Conference National outfit Wrexham.
The Dale will go into the draw for the FA Cup Second Round on Monday night but they can count themselves very lucky to do so after a goalless draw at Wrexham in which they were far from the better side.
Dean Keates' men hit the woodwork on more than one occasion and forced Robert Sanchez into a couple of very impressive saves whilst the League One side struggled to create any real stand-out chances of their own.
Almost from the kick-off it was winger Ben Tollitt who caused Dale problems and with four minutes on the clock the 24 year old squandered a fine chance, poking the ball wide after latching onto the ball in the box following some ponderous defending from Eoghan O'Connell and MJ Williams.
A few minutes later, after Jimmy Keohane had a feeble half-volley saved by Rob Lainton, Tollitt came close again, cutting in from the left wing and beating a couple of men, only to see his thunderous effort from outside the box come bouncing back off the crossbar, much to the relief of Sanchez and his defenders.
From here, Dale perhaps enjoyed their best spell of the game, certainly in terms of possession if not penetration. The closest we came was from an Aaron Morley free-kick that whistled into the side-netting and certainly looked as though it may have nestled in from the angle offered by the away end at the Racecourse Ground.
The visitors did enjoy another couple of half-chances before the break, with Matt Done's tame effort held by Lainton after some fine approach play and there were half-hearted appeals for a handball but the whistle blew for half-time with 0-0 perhaps offering a fair reflection of the game.
In the second half however...
Whilst most of us will have expected the lads to kick on, force the initiative and start to show their class as the team from two divisions above, the second half certainly belonged to the hosts who were unlucky not to break the deadlock on several occasions.
Former Daley Bobby Grant and half-time substitute Mark Harris both had volleys go just wide, whilst Grant and Shaun Pearson teamed up to try and bundle the ball over the line after Sanchez spilled a cross, but a foul was correctly called much to the chagrin of the home support who had appealed for a couple of handballs in the box already in the second half and would do again before full-time.
Dale made some changes, with Ryan McLaughlin and Fabio Tavares being introduced, but neither of those two made much of a difference to the gameplay. Tavares' style always makes him look a threat but in reality he was well handled by the experienced Mark Carrington at full-back for the Red Dragons.
Following another handball claim, Sanchez made a stop that would prove to be the highlight of the game, reaching backwards to claw away a seemingly goalbound header from Pearson after a Wrexham corner.
Even after that, the home side continued to look the more likely to break the deadlock. Pearson had another header nodded wide from a dangerous set piece and Luke Young saw another volley flash wide of the post, before Wrexham hit the woodwork once again with Akil Wright's deflected effort coming back off the post with just five minutes of normal time remaining.
The only real effort of note in those remaining minutes came from a rare foray forward from Dale, with MJ Williams striking a dipping effort from outside the box that forced a fairly comfortable save from Lainton but in truth, a late winner would have been completely undeserved in what was an unimaginative and lacklustre display.
Dale are next in action on Tuesday night away to Bradford City in the leasing.com trophy, before returning to league action at St. Andrew's to take on Coventry City next weekend. A far, far better away performance than this will be required if Dale are to buck the trend of a four game winless streak during that trip to the Midlands.
Robert Sanchez: 7. This could easily have been either a 4 or a 9 to be honest. Played a couple of very uncomfortable passes, as always, and spilled a couple of crosses but made some terrific stops in the second half in particular.
Jimmy Keohane: 5. Got into some decent positions but never really looked like making anything happen once he had. Struggled defensively and seemed to be targeted by the Wrexham forwards to me, perhaps with MJ alongside him they identified that channel as a weak spot.
Eoghan O'Connell: 7. I don't think he's had a bad game yet. Whilst he was far from perfect today, he played some tidy passes, defended relatively well and much like on Tuesday, looked like he actually wanted to make something happen. Frustrating when the only player who does plays at centre-back.
MJ Williams: 5. Not a centre-back, pure and simple. Although, he's not exactly been playing well in midfield of late either. I would still rather have him in there than Jimmy Ryan though so hopefully he gets moved back into midfield as soon as one of McShane/McNulty/Magloire are fit.
Rhys Norrington-Davies: 5. Not his best performance either and I wonder if he has maybe been rushed back from the knock he picked up against Bristol Rovers due to the lack of numbers in the squad. Looked a little sluggish and decided against crossing from deep when he seemed to have the space to do so on more than one occasion.
Aaron Morley: 5. Really struggled to make an impact. Even his eye-catching, raking long balls that are usually the highlight of any of his games never really landed in this one. I'd like to see him break forward more to support the front players, especially knowing he has the protection of Ryan or MJ behind him.
Jimmy Ryan: 4. Nope.
Matt Done: 4. Also nope.
Callum Camps: 6. Showed lovely feet a couple of times but like Morley, really struggled to impact the game. The improvised bit of skill he produced in the first half led to one of our better chances but other than that I'm struggling to remember what he offered.
Rekeil Pyke: 5. Pyke is such a weird player to watch. His height, strength and first touch should make him far more of a threat, but when he has the ball at his feet and is bearing down on goal you have no confidence he is going to make anything happen. He needs to be coming off the bench as an impact sub instead of Calvin rather than starting the game in one of the most creative positions on the pitch.
Ian Henderson: 6. Battled hard as always, made a nuisance of himself, but lacked service and support through no fault of his own. Had to drop far deeper than he wanted to in order to have any sort of possession several times.
Photo: Action Images
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