|Swindon Town 3 v 1 Rochdale|
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 12th September 2020 Kick-off 15:00
Match Report: Swindon 3-1 Dale
Saturday, 12th Sep 2020 18:39 by AtThePeake
Dale's League One campaign got off to a very disappointing start with a 3-1 defeat at Swindon Town on Saturday afternoon.
First half goals from Tyler Smith, Anthony Grant and Matt Smith allowed the Robins to wrap up the three points in the first-half without really having to get out of first gear despite a late consolation from Jimmy Keohane.
Not only were the visitors without new signing Stephen Humphrys who presumably missed the deadline to be registered in time, but also midfielder Jimmy Ryan was an omission from the match squad.
That meant a back four of McLaughlin, McShane, O'Connell and Keohane in front of Bazunu, a midfield of Lund, Morley, Dooley and Rathbone and a front two of Newby and Done.
But Dale couldn't have got off to a worse start. With just four minutes on the clock, the defence failed to clear their lines from the first corner of the match and Tyler Smith, who of course spent a short spell on loan at Spotland last season, latched onto the loose ball to lash it home.
Clearly giving the hosts a confidence boost, the goal really seemed to shape the way the early stages would pan out. Swindon kept the ball incredibly well in the opening 15 minutes, with Dale clearly missing Jimmy Ryan to slow the tempo down and put a foot on the ball in the middle of the park.
Instead, it all seemed rushed and panicky, with midfielders struggling to make passes connect, defenders giving away pointless fouls and the two forwards barely getting a kick between them, the only real half-views of goal were lobbed into the empty Town End by Matt Lund and Matt Done.
After Jack Payne cut inside and curled a left-footed shot over the bar, it seemed evident that it was a matter of time until the Robins made it two and indeed they did just moments later.
Having taken an age to react to Swindon taking a quick corner, the Dale defence failed to adequately pressurise the exciting winger Diallang Jaiyesimi who swung in a wonderful deep cross that was headed in at the back post by the hosts' skipper Grant.
There may have been a foul by Grant on his marker Alex Newby, but in reality the lack of reaction to the quick corner, a failure to defend the cross and goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu failing to pick up the flight of the ball led to the goal rather than any poor officiating.
Still Dale struggled for possession and looked to quickly run out of ideas in the few spells that they did enjoy, again adopting the approach of attempting to play out from the back where possible but it would come back to bite them rather quickly.
Bazunu opted to pass into the feet of Rathbone but that decision was quickly shown to be the wrong one, as the Dale midfielder was facing his own goal, deep in his own half, with two Swindon players directly behind him.
Arsenal loanee Matt Smith took advantage, winning the ball and racing away from Rathbone before coolly slotting into the near-empty goal for 3-0 before the half-time whistle could come to put Dale temporarily out of their misery.
If Dale fans were harbouring hopes of a second-half comeback they seemed to be quickly extinguished by more sloppy passing whilst the Robins continued to force the issue after the break.
Indeed, until Fabio Tavares and Kwadwo Baah were introduced from the bench to inject some pace and energy, Dale seemed to be letting the game pass them by and chances in the second half were few and far between, a long-range shot from the former of those two the only real chance until injury-time.
Dale did at least restore some pride in the 92nd minute with some excellent work from Baah and his low, drilled cross being tapped in at the back-post by Jimmy Keohane, that consolation strike being the Irishman's first for the club.
This match had the air of some disappointing away defeats against the likes of Portsmouth and Sunderland last season where Dale failed to even remain in the game thanks to panicky defending and silly mistakes allowing the opposition to score goals in quick succession.
In the end, Swindon hardly had to get out of first gear in cruising to a highly comfortable 3-1 win, consigning Dale to a disappointing opening day loss in Wiltshire.
Gavin Bazunu: 4 - Oh dear. That third goal is one that will be remembered for a while, not an ideal league debut. Says a lot that he conceded three goals without actually having many saves to make.
Ryan McLaughlin: 5 - Panicked quite often in possession and despite Morley clearly being happy to drop in and cover, he failed to get forward and support the attack.
Eoghan O'Connell: 5 - A rare poor performance from our skipper today. If he doesn't play well, we don't play well.
Paul McShane: 6 - Didn't defend quite as poorly as O'Connell and looked a little more comfortable in playing out from the back than the rest of the defence.
Jimmy Keohane: 6 - Didn't do much wrong and got himself the goal, but doesn't really offer much of an outlet for the midfield in comparison to Rhys Norrington-Davies
Ollie Rathbone: 4 - Haven't seen Ollie play quite this badly many times before. Was deployed way too deep which doesn't play to his strengths, really struggled on the ball throughout.
Aaron Morley: 5 - Passed him by a little. Not sure why he wasn't used as the deeper, central midfielder instead of Rathbone and he struggled for composure when he did have the ball.
Stephen Dooley: 6 - Much like Morley the game seemed to pass Dooley by somewhat, but he was generally a bit tidier and more progressive on it.
Matt Lund: 4 - Really, really poor performance from Lund. Gave the ball away time and again and seemed to be running through treacle when chasing his opponents at times. Doesn't look completely fit.
Alex Newby: 5 - Felt a little sorry for Newby who was completely starved of service in his first league game, perhaps should have been more willing to drop into midfield to try and pick the ball up.
Matt Done: 6 - Tried to recreate the 2014/2015, high pressing version of his game to little avail. As always, it's never a lack of effort with Done though.
Fabio Tavares: 6. Was forward thinking at least, even if nothing really came off for him.
Kwadwo Baah: 7. Came on, tried to actually worry their defenders, should probably be starting with the squad we currently have.
Photo: Action Images
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