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Oxford United 3 v 1 Rochdale
SkyBet League One
Tuesday, 3rd November 2020 Kick-off 19:00
Match Report: Oxford United 3-1 Rochdale
Tuesday, 3rd Nov 2020 21:34 by Chaff

An awful second half display saw Dale on the end of a 3-1 defeat away at Oxford United.

With Dale unbeaten in four games and taking on an Oxford United side that were sitting bottom of the league, I suspect many fans would see this as a big opportunity to build on our impressive recent run that has seen us pick up 8 points from our last 4 games. That said, despite being bottom, Oxford have played a couple of games less than most, ourselves included, and our record at the Kassam Stadium is pretty bobbins. I would have taken a point if you'd offered it me.

It's fair to say it's a struggle to keep up with the intense fixture list we're seeing at the moment with games coming thick and fast and it only seems like two minutes ago I was writing the Bristol Rovers report. This isn't a complaint either as with a national lockdown imposed until December, football might be the only thing we get to look forward to in many respects.

BBM made one change with Jimmy Keohane coming in for Ryan McLaughlin but apart from that it was the same team that drew with Bristol Rovers which meant we had Gavin Bazunu in net, Jimmy Keohane at right back, Tolaji Bola at left back and skipper Eoghan O’Connell and Haydon Roberts at centre half. Aaron Morley, Jimmy Ryan and Matty Lund were in midfield with Alex Newby and Ollie Rathbone playing off Jake Beesley. The bench consisted of Jay Lynch, Jim McNulty, Ryan McLaughlin, Matt Done, Stephen Dooley, Harrison Hopper and Fabio Tavares.

The first thing I noticed in the game was the crowd noise coming over the tannoy system. As much as I've missed crowds, it soon began to irritate me!

Dale started the game off quite well I thought and had lots of the ball without being able to create many chances and in fact the first chance of any note came on the twenty minute mark when Ollie Rathbone had a shot deflected out for a corner. A ball through found Newby wide on the right and he did well to square it to Rathbone but his shot was closed down well.

Oxford had a similar effort a couple of minutes later with an effort that deflected narrowly past the post.

Matty Taylor managed to get easily past Morley on the left and cut inside and shot from the edge of the box but his effort was well wide of the target and not troubling Bazunu.

At the other end, a loose ball was picked up by Beesley who reacted well, he shot on the turn but couldn't connect well enough and his shot was tipped wide by Eastwood in the Oxford net.

With a little over 10 minutes to go to half time, Oxford took the lead. A high ball came into the box, Bazunu came out to get it and dropped it straight to the feet of Moore who practically scuffed his shot into the back of the net. It looked like a foul on Bazunu to me, he certainly looked like he got impeded by Matty Taylor but I also think he should have done better with the cross. Anyway, whether it was a foul or not, Oxford led 1-0.

Dale almost gave the perfect instant response as straight from kick-off, Newby beat their keeper to the ball but was forced wide, he came back into the box and drilled the ball across goal and it was blocked just before Beesley could get on the end of it.

Oxford had started getting more and more possession in the game prior to the goal but Dale had reacted well to going behind, as they have in previous weeks and it paid off again. Oxford had led for just 6 minutes when a Matt Lund effort was blocked by an arm in the Oxford box and the referee gave his first good decision of the game and awarded the penalty. I was fully expecting Morley to step up and take it as he's done in the past but it was the leading goalscorer Matty Lund who slotted the ball home, sending Eastwood the wrong way, as cool as you like. Goal number 5 for Lelundowski! Dale were level!

Oxford decided to shoot straight from kick-off and it went harmlessly wide.

The last action of the half saw Taylor get past Keohane and drill the ball right across the box and nobody could get on the end of it.

The second half saw Dale get off to a bright start really but it wasn't long before Oxford started taking control.

Ollie Rathbone got clattered and was evidently frustrated so ran back to chase the ball and took out one of their players and earned a yellow card for his troubles. The resulting free kick was well swung in and Sam Long headed over the bar for the home side.

Then came THE chance. Just less than an hour gone and Dale should have been ahead. One of the worst misses I've seen in a long long time. To the point it's winding me up just writing about it. A Jimmy Ryan shot from the edge of the area was spilled by the keeper and fell to Jake Beesley inside the six yard box. He has to score, without question. He somehow pulls it wide of the post. Proper head in hands moment for him, and for us sitting at home. And to make it worse, it would prove to be the turning point in the game.

Literally the next minute saw Oxford go ahead. I had to make do with the replay as one of our cats decided he wanted to play football and jumped up at the TV. You don't get that at the games #LetFansIn. But from the replay, substitute Shodipo got on the end of a good ball from the left to curl his shot past Bazunu into the far post to make it 2-1 to Oxford. It was practically his first touch.

Shodipo's introduction had sparked Oxford into life and he was tearing us to bits.

Ruffels hit a powerful effort from about 30 yards out that whistled past the post.

That Beesley miss had killed Dale off here, we were absolutely awful second half.

Ryan McLaughlin had come on for Jimmy Keohane, presumably with an eye on trying to keep up with Shodipo.

Another Oxford sub, Sykes, went close with a low and powerful effort that Gavin Bazunu saved.

Tavares came on for Jimmy Ryan. This meant Rathbone dropped into midfield as Tavares went over to the right wing and Newby went on the left. The change didn't have any effect.

With just over ten minutes to go, Matty Done came on for Tolaji Bola. Again, zero change in how we were playing.

Bazunu was forced into another save as he dived low to his left but spilt the ball out for a corner.

With 10 minutes left, the points were lost. Dale went 3-1 down. A powerful, superb header from Elliott Moore ended up in the top corner of the net for his second of the game. Moore had run in and O'Connell simply hadn't picked him up at all. Game over, although to be fair, it looked game over before that.

Dale couldn't create anything else, Oxford ran the clock down and a dismal second half display had gifted Oxford the win when we went into the half time break looking like we could win the game.

FA cup action at the weekend, but because it's not the EFL it doesn't look like we'll be able to watch the game so there may well not be a match report if that's the case. To be fair, I could do with a week off!

PLAYER RATINGS:

Gavin Bazunu - 6 (Couple of good saves but could have done better with their opener)

Jimmy Keohane - 6 (Got forward when he could but also had his hands full on that side)

Eoghan O'Connell - 5 (Rare off day for O'Connell, completely lost his man for the third)

HAYDON ROBERTS - 6 (My Man of the Match but that's nowt to shout about. Good passing out of defence)

Tolaji Bola - 6 (Not as impressive as he has been)

Aaron Morley - 5 (Wasteful with the ball again in his deep midfield role)

Jimmy Ryan - 6 (Did OK Ryan before going off)

Matty Lund - 6 (Did ok and took his penalty very well)

Ollie Rathbone - 5 (See Saturday's report)

Alex Newby - 6 (Our most creative player again but not much came off)

Jake Beesley - 4 (Worked hard but that miss is going to haunt him)


Subs:

Ryan McLaughlin- 5 (Didn't play well when he came on)
Fabio Tavares - 6 (Didn’t have any impact)
Matt Done – 5 (Came on for Bola, only noticed him give away a poor foul)

Photo: Action Images



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