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Rochdale 0 v 0 Portsmouth
SkyBet League One
Sunday, 20th September 2020 Kick-off 15:00
Match Report: Rochdale 0-0 Portsmouth
Sunday, 20th Sep 2020 17:43 by Chaff

Rochdale earned their first point of the new season, unexpectedly, against Portsmouth in their first home match of the season with a 0-0 draw.

Dale started the game with new signing Stephen Humprhys up front for the first time since the new number 9 joined last week from Southend but it wasn't gonna go to plan for Dale's new signing. Dale lined up with Gavin Bazunu in goal, Ryan McLaughlin at right back with Eoghan O'Connell and Paul McShane at centre half and Jimmy Keohane making it an all Irish back 5. A narrow sounding midfield with Jimmy Ryan making a very welcome return to the side alongside Aaron Morley, Matt Lund and Ollie Rathbone with Alex Newby playing off Stephen Humphrys. Dale's bench looked a little bit stronger with Jay Lynch, Jimmy McNulty, Stephen Dooley, Ethan Brierley, Kwadwo Baah, Fabio Tavares and Matty Done.

From the get go, Dale seemed to play with a much higher tempo than previous games and it seemed to suit us although we were unable to create any clear cut chances early on.

Ronan Curtis had a weak header held by Bazunu on 14 minutes as Portsmouth also struggled to create much in the early going.

Dale then had a great chance a minute later as the ball sat up beautifully for Ollie Rathbone to volley and his effort just flew past the post.

Dale's midfield were having a much better time of it than the Sheffield Wednesday and Swindon games with Jimmy Ryan making a huge difference from last week with his inclusion and he was breaking up play well and offered a calmness. The aim seemed to be that Ryan breaks the play up with Morley tried to find the forwards with a direct ball but Morley's passing range seemed to be off.

Stephen Humphrys's first sight of goal in a Dale shirt saw him turn cleverley on the edge of the box and smash an effort goalwards but his shot flew over the bar.

At the other end, Gavin Bazunu was called into action from distance as he pulled off a very good save to tip the ball out for a corner. The resulting corner ended up with John Marquis heading harmlessly wide.

Dale had their best chance of the game on the half hour mark as Alex Newby burst forward and got about 6 yards out and instead of squaring to Humphrys, he opted to go for goal but completely fluffed his lines and his shot ended up going for a throw in on the far side. What a chance! What a waste!

Disaster then struck for Dale and Stephen Humphrys as he overstretched and immediately went down holding his left knee and after a few minutes of treatement, he just couldn't continue and he was replaced by Matty Done. Literally the last thing that Dale needed.

Newby was again causing problems as he skilfully got past his man and instead of shooting, which looked the more sensible option, he laid it off to Done who could only poke his left foot at it and it trickled through to the keeper.

The last action of the half saw Ronan Curtis hit a shot over the bar but I'd argue Dale went into the break deserving to be ahead.

One thing noticeable was that the bell ringing idiot from Portsmouth had evidently made the trip up north and was outside the ground making that stupidly annoying racket.

Portsmouth should have gone ahead just after half time as Gavin Bazunu passed the ball out straight to the Pompey forward line and Marquis spurned is opportunity and hits it wide.

Ryan McLaughlin hit the deck and was holding his hand in what looked to be a dislocated finger but he carried on regardless.

Portsmouth were starting to dominate possession and looked much more dangerous and I pretty much thought it was just a matter of time before they scored.

Former Dale midfielder Andy Cannon was lucky to escape a booking when he threw himself to the floor looking for a penalty but the referee waved it away and should really have booked him. It was absolutely pathetic.

Lund had a shot from the edge of the box that flew over the bar just after the hour mark as Dale did manage a rare break away.

Pompey then had the ball in the net but thankfully for Dale, the referee had given a foul on Bazunu. The ball came in and the on-loan keeper looked like he'd dropped the ball into his net but he was pushed according the referee David Webb.

Dale broke forward and a ball came into the box to Matt Done in a great position but the ball got stuck under his feet and the chance was gone.

Stephen Dooley was to be introduced by BBM but it was Alex Newby who was taken off when I thought he was easily our most creative player along with Rathbone. A strange decision to take him off.

Jimmy Ryan had a great chance to hit the target from the edge of the area but his effort was always rising and flew over the bar.

There are two players in the Dale side who you desperately didn't want to go off injured, one had already done so in Humphrys and the other would be O'Connell. As luck would have it, O'Connell was seen sat down needing treating holding his right knee and it became evident he couldn't continue either. On came Jim McNulty for the Rochdale captain who limped straight down the tunnel.

Bazunu was called into action to tip over a Marquis header. He really should have done better but he headed into the ground and Bazunu tipped it over the bar.

The chance we had all been waiting for. The nailed on goal. The chance that simply has to be taken then fell Dale's way. It had to go in! But it didn't! A cock-up in the Pompey defence gifted the ball to Matt Done who was one on one with the keeper. Go on Done, prove the doubters wrong and bury it! He rounds the keeper well and is left with an open net but it's on his right foot. Finish it Matt! Nope, he miskicked the ball which took him wide, he did manage to cut back and shoot but it was then blocked on the line. If we can't take chances like that then we are destined for relegation. So frustrating as that would have given us an unlikely win against my bet for the league title this season.

Dooley did have another chance for Dale but his shot was well saved. The ball fell to Done in a wide area and he crossed into the box and Rathbone managed to just about get on the end of it but hit the ball wide of the post.

Just when the injury situation didn't look like it could get any worse, McLaughlin went down holding his hamstring. He had to continue though as we were out of substitutes. Lund went to right back and McLaughlin went further up the pitch.

Pompey did create one more chance before the final whistle which Bazunu again saves and tips over the bar but thankfully the whistle went and Dale were off the mark with a point, one not many of us, if any, predicted we would get.

We had chances to win it and we were under the cosh for large parts of the second half and you'd take a point all day long.

Player Ratings:

Gavin Bazunu - 7 (Plenty of decent saves but nearly cost us with a wayward pass)

Ryan McLaughlin - 7 (Did well for the most part but was evidently injured at the end having also potentially dislocated his finger, more injury woes)

Eoghan O'Connell - 7 (Defended very well before going off injured)

Paul McShane - 7 (Equally as impressive in defence)

Jimmy Keohane - 7 (Steady as always, defended well and got forward more)

Jimmy Ryan - 7 (We missed him, a lot and we could all see why today)

Aaron Morley - 6 (Passing range was off today and his set pieces weren't great)

Matty Lund - 7 (Thought he did much better today Lund and even filled in at right back at the end)

OLLIE RATHBONE - 7 (Played very well today, got forward a lot more and really looked to create)

Alex Newby - 7 (Drifted in and out a touch before going off but was our most creative player. Looks to be finding his feet more)

Stephen Humphrys - 7 (Was looking good until he went off injured)

Matt Done - 5 (Work rate is there but nothing else. Spurned great chances)

Stephen Dooley - 6 (Frustrating to watch him sometimes but could have won it at the end)

Jim McNulty - 6 (Came on for O'Connell late on)

Photo: Action Images

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