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Played For Both: Dale vs Coventry
Friday, 21st Feb 2020 10:00 by AtThePeake

Today we take a look back at one of the key players from Dale's most recent promotion season, winger and all-round nice guy Peter Vincenti.

Although it was mostly Scott Hogan and Ian Henderson winning the plaudits and headlines during Dale's 2013/2014 League Two promotion campaign, the three-pronged attack was completed by the pivotal Peter Vincenti.

Hogan had the pace and the goals, Henderson had the attacking creativity but without Vincenti doing much of the dirty work for them, neither of these two players would have been anywhere near as effective in that season and working as a front three, the trio complimented each other perfectly and were too hot to handle for most defences in the division that term.

One of the more talented footballers to derive from Jersey in recent years, Vincenti started his career on a part-time basis with the island's St Peter FC and in 2007 won Jersey Footballer of the Year having been the side's top scorer in the Island Games held in Rhodes that year.

This led to interest from Millwall who snapped the youngster up on a short-term deal just a few weeks after his 21st birthday, but Vincenti would leave the Lions in January 2008 having failed to make a first team appearance - joining Stevenage Borough originally on another short-term deal that was quickly extended to an 18 month one by former interim England boss Peter Taylor.

Having originally been placed on the transfer list the following summer by new boss Graham Westley, Vincenti forced his way into the side and quickly became a mainstay for the Boro, making 47 appearances over the new two seasons as the Hertfordshire outfit finally won a long-awaited promotion to the Football League in the 2009/2010 campaign.

Unfortunately for the winger, he would make just five appearances for the club in League Two, spending a short spell on loan at Mansfield back in non-league. His one goal in these five appearances ended up being Stevenage's first in the Football League but he left in January of that season to join Aldershot Town, also in League Two, on an 18 month deal.

It was at the Recreation Ground where Vincenti really started to develop as a player. He became a firm fans' favourite with the Shots and managed 15 goals in 117 appearances in all competitions, despite the club being relegated from the Football League in his second full campaign but it was clear that he was one of the most talented players in the side, so it came as little shock when he managed to secure a deal with a League Two outfit for the upcoming season.

That outfit? Rochdale.

At this point, Keith Hill had been back in charge at Spotland for just a few months in the back end of the 2012/2013 campaign. He'd already made some very shrewd additions to his squad, not least that of Ian Henderson on a free transfer from Colchester and was clearly eyeing up a second promotion with the club in that campaign.

Olly Lancashire, Ashley Eastham and Jack O'Connell were brought in to sure up the backline, Matt Lund was expected to add some steal to the defence and in attack, Matt Done (who would actually end up playing the majority of the campaign at full-back) arrived alongside Vincenti and the largely unknown Scott Hogan in attack.

It was clear from the start what Vincenti's role was. At 6'2, he provided the perfect outball from the defence when the likes of Jamie Allen and Lund were unable to get on the ball in midfield. His work-rate tracking back down the right wing was equally invaluable when helping out the developing Joe Rafferty at full-back and what's more, he had quality on the ball too.

That quality was really on show in his first goal for the club, a stunning 30 yard strike in a 3-0 win over Newport in October. By this point, Dale were starting to play some scintillating stuff and fans at the Crown Oil Arena were hopeful of a successful campaign.

And that's exactly what it turned out to be as Dale earned just the third promotion in their history and Vincenti played a huge part. He would score seven league goals in that campaign, including a pivotal last-minute equaliser versus promotion rivals Chesterfield and, memorably, the opener in the 2-1 home win over Cheltenham in the last home fixture of the campaign that finally mathematically secured a top three finish.

Having already established himself as a firm fans' favourite for his performances on the pitch, Vincenti's approachable personality off it made him even more popular as he was often referred to as 'Nice Guy' during his time with the club and also inspired one of the better player chants we've heard in recent years (and yes, I created it, not Chaff).

The next campaign, Dale's first back in League One, would be Vincenti's most prolific campaign of his career. The club beat all expectations to finish in 8th in the third tier - their highest ever finish and Vincenti stepped up to the plate following the sale of Hogan to Brentford to score 16 times in all competitions, including a fantastic burst of form in Autumn that saw him score seven times in nine outings in all competitions.

Although he was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet in the famous FA Cup win over Leeds United in the 2013/2014 campaign, Vincenti would also have his moment in that competition in the 2014/2015 term. His penalty was enough to earn Dale another famous win - 1-0 over Nottingham Forest - in the Third Round of that competition.

Having started the next campaign in equally terrific form, scoring in important wins over Shrewsbury, Scunthorpe and Barnsley in the opening months, Vincenti suffered a lack of form in the second half of the campaign that saw him mostly feature as a substitute over the course of that season. He did however, score a wonderful strike in a home win over Sheffield United having been introduced from the bench alongside Grant Holt - who also scored in that game.

Vincenti ended the 2015/2016 season with eight goals in 43 appearances in all competitions but it would be his last as a regular at Dale as injuries really held him back in the 2016/2017 campaign. He scored once in just 15 appearances in that season and was allowed to leave on a free transfer to Coventry City in League Two, despite still having a year remaining on his Dale contract at that time.

Having arrived at The Ricoh Arena, Vincenti set his sights on another promotion on his CV and indeed, he earned it. Featuring 29 times over the course of that season despite playing with an injury as outlined by manager Mark Robins, Vincenti scored three times and provided a handy option without ever really becoming a key player for the Sky Blues.

Perhaps fearing the step-up would be too much for a player clearly struggling for regular fitness, Robins allowed Vincenti to leave in that summer and he joined Macclesfield Town, where he made 16 appearances last season as the Cheshire outfit remarkably avoided relegation back to the National League under the guidance of Sol Campbell.

Although still contracted to Macc, 33 year old Vincenti is currently out on loan at National League North outfit Hereford United.

He'll undoubtedly remember his time at Spotland as the peak of his career where he became not just a regular started in the third tier, but a key player for a side reaching heights completely unexpected of them in years gone by. Dale fans will remember him fondly for his high work-rate, his goal threat ghosting in at the back post and his excellent link-up play in some of the best sides to grace the hallowed turf in the modern history of the club.

Photo: Action Images

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