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Port Vale 2-1 Rochdale - Friendly
Saturday, 29th Aug 2020 17:22 by Chaff

Dale went down 2-1 away at Port Vale in the final friendly before the start of the season.

Dale started the game with new on-loan keeper Gavin Bazunu in net, Ryan McLaughlin at right back, Jimmy Keohane at left back and Jim McNulty partnering Eoghan O'Connell in the centre of defence. A midfield three of Jimmy Ryan, Matty Lund and Stephen Dooley with a front three of Alex Newby, Fabio Tavares and Matty Done. On the bench were two keepers for some reason (probably because we've nobody else!) in Jay Lynch and Brad Wade, 1st year scholar Kacper Mialkowski, Aaron Morley, Paul McShane, Kwadwo Baah, Harrison Hopper, Keaton Mulvey and Joe Dunne. Noticeable by his absence was Ollie Rathbone who has been the subject of transfer speculation with Hull City reported to have put in transfer bids for the midfielder. Read into that what you will but I don't expect him to be here much longer.

The game got under way with Dale wearing their mint green kit and from the whistle, Conlon had a shot for Port Vale from the kickoff, saved easily by Bazunu.

Port Vale carved out a couple of half chances with wayward headers but Dale were struggling to create much other than a blocked shot from Jimmy Keohane on 21 minutes.

A couple of minutes later and Dale managed to counter attack as Newby found Tavares who cut inside from the left wing and forced Visser into a good save.

Tavares again had a great chance but he miss-kicked an effort on goal after good work from Newby down the right, he pulled it back to Tavares who should have done better but the keeper tipped it wide.

The home side went close as Burgess got past the Dale defence too easily and squared it for Devante Rodney who fluffed it wide when it was easier to score.

Jimmy Ryan was the standout performer for Dale in the first half and it seems like the midfielder is going to be a hugely important player for us this season with his experience and composure in the middle.

Dale's best chance of the half came as O’Connell did brilliantly coming forward and put a fantastic through ball into Matty Done who took it round the keeper and completely mishit it and it trickled toward the line and the danger was removed easily. Great chance for Dale.

With half time approaching the referee awarded a penalty to Port Vale. Devante Rodney was clumsily brought down by McNulty with a daft challenge. Conlon converted the penalty sending Bazunu the wrong way to make it 1-0 to Port Vale as the half time whistle sounded.

There were no Dale changes at half time making me think this might be the side that we are forced to use next week against Huddersfield in the Carabao Cup which was a frightening thought if I'm honest.

With ten minutes of the second half gone, Port Vale were 2-0 ahead. Jim McNulty again giving a penalty away by pulling his man down and Conlon again sent Bazunu the wrong way againn.

Bazunu stopped it being 3-0 as Conlon hit a great effort on goal. Dale were slow to react to the threat and Bazunu tipped the ball over the bar when it was heading for the top corner.

Port Vale were beginning to control the game but Dale did have a chance when Jimmy Ryan sent an effort just wide of the goal.

Dale then made four changes with Bazunu, Ryan, O'Connell and Done coming off and being replaced by Lynch, Morley, McShane and Baah.

The introduction of Baah sparked Dale into life and suddenly Dale were back in the game as he was brought down in the box having cut in from the left hand side. Matt Lund had smashed the ball in the net about a second after the whistle blew so the penalty stood despite Lund wanting his goal. Aaron Morley stepped up to score to the keepers right and make it 2-1.

Baah again caused problems for Zak Mills down the left as he got beyond the former Oldham defender and forced Visser into a save.

Sloppy play by Morley saw him give the ball away and Port Vale came forward and it ended up with former Bury striker Tom Pope having a shot deflected over the bar.

Dale went close, or a least should have when Baah chased a 50/50 that the keeper won and Visser's clearance fell to Lund who shot from the half way line but his effort was poor and well wide.

Kacper Mialkowski replaced Ryan McLaughlin for Dale with the youngster going to left back and Jimmy Keohane going to right back.

Dale had one more good chance as Newby did really well to get past his man and fired goalwards but his effort was brilliantly cleared off the line.

The game ended 2-1 to Port Vale and with just a week until the season starts with a trip to Huddersfield for the Carabao Cup, Dale look a million miles off where they need to be in terms of personnel. In fact, in my 30 plus years of watching Dale, I've never seen us less prepared to start a season and our lack of attacking options is a huge cause for concern and I would just hope the board share my concerns, and the concerns of the supporters. Surely we have to see some additions this week?

Looking forward to the new season? Nope, me neither!

Photo: Action Images

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