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Match Report: Rochdale 3-3 Crewe Alexandra
Saturday, 9th Jan 2021 17:16 by Chaff

An absolute thriller at Spotland saw Dale come from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 in their first game of 2021.

Dale's first game since before Christmas saw us host Crewe Alexandra at Spotland, mainly thanks to a tremendous effort from the groundstaff to ensure the game went ahead despite the freezing temperatures we've seen in the last couple of weeks.

BBM had a fully fit squad more or less and more importantly, a fully healthy squad with zero positive covid tests meant Dale could host what many would say isn't far off our strongest side. Gavin Bazunu returned from a broken hand, Ollie Rathbone had returned from injury, Jake Beesley had recovered from that awful head injury he picked up at Plymouth finally and there were even spots on the bench for Paul McShane and Ryan McLaughlin. Tolaji Bola had been sent back to Arsenal so Matt Done came into the side. Dale lined up with Gavin Bazunu in net, a back four of Jimmy Keohane, Eoghan O'Connell, Haydon Roberts and Matty Done. A midfield four of Alex Newby, Aaron Morley, Matty Lund and Ollie Rathbone with Stephen Humphrys up front. On the bench were Jay Lynch, Ryan McLaughlin, Paul McShane, Jim McNulty, Jimmy Dunne, Stephen Dooley and Kwadwo Baah.

Dale got off to an awful start and were 1-0 down with just 5 minutes played. A wonderful ball in from the right was finished really well by Ollie Finnie. Another ball into the box not dealt with and Done did nowhere near enough to stop the cross. Very frustrating.

From then on it was mainly Dale who controlled the ball but as we've said in most reports this year, we couldn't make the most of the possession we had.

Stephen Humphrys cut inside having gone past two and his shot was blocked and looped over the bar.

With ten minutes gone, Alex Newby somehow saw the ball fall to him in the box but his shot was also blocked and the chance disappeared.

Just a couple of minutes later and it was Dale again with the chance. Lund chipped a good ball into the box and Done somehow got on the end of it but a poor header into the ground was easily tipped wide by Jaaskelainen in the Crewe net.

With 22 minutes gone, Dale were 2-0 down thanks to a goal from Dale, Owen Dale. To be fair it was the only Dale looking like scoring today. It was all too easy again and Dale, Rochdale, were torn apart. A great break , everyone out of position and an easy finish for Owen Dale. Again, awful.

Crewe had had two efforts and scored both of them and at no point was it anything other than inevitable that they were going to score either chance. It's demoralising to watch this.

Stephen Humprhys again had an effort for Dale, he drove forward again, took it past a man and blasted goalwards but his shot narrowly went over the bar.

With ten minutes still left in the first half it was 3-0, game over and yet again, it was too bloody easy. Charlie Kirk broke forward from a cleared corner ball and Dale were nowhere, chasing back in vain and it was a goal as soon as the ball broke to be honest, Kirk got into the box and nudged the ball across to an unmarked Ollie Finney who was left with a simple finish. This is awful again and so easy it's painful to watch. To add insult to injury, Eoghan O'Connell was forced off injured having pulled up during that chase back. Paul McShane replaced him for his first appearance since October.

It's not like we were trying the play the tippy tappy game that pisses a lot of fans off, we were trying to go more direct and it still wasn't working.

All you have to do against Rochdale to win is press us and play on the counter. It's that bloody easy.

Dale went in at half time 3-0 down. The half time stats showed the visitors had had 6 shots, of which all 6 were on target and they'd scored 3 of them. We'd had 8 shots, only 1 on target and don't look like scoring. Insert pissed off but unsurprised emoji here.

Dale got the second half underway kicking towards the Sandy and won a corner straight from kick off. Could this be the start of a miraculous comeback? Well, the corner was cleared and fell to Morley who put a fabulous ball in which evaded everyone and nestled into the far corner to make it 3-1. Not sure if it got a touch on the way through from Humprhys but it looked like Morley's goal. More of the same please Dale.

Crewe nearly made it 4-1. Mandron poked the ball past Bazunu but past the post as well having out-fought Matt Done far too easily.

Moments after almost giving a penalty away, Ollie Rathbone fired an effort on goal but his effort was straight at Jaaskelainen.

Dale were looking much better than the first half in the opening ten minutes of the second half.

Mandron again went close but Bazunu did brilliantly to come out and close him down.

My girlfriend said to me "I don't feel Lund has been in the game as much as I'd have liked him to have been." Literally the next kick saw the ball fall to Matt Lund who brilliantly finished into the bottom right hand corner to make it 3-2. I think she deserves the credit for what we were all about to see!

As the snow started falling at Dale, a penalty was given to Crewe. A cry for handball on Beesley who was immediately protesting his innocence and Andy Haines was advised by his lino that it should be overturned and it was, thankfully.

Dale were agonisingly close to equalising when some confusion in the Crewe box saw the keeper fail to deal with the ball and found himself out out of his net when the ball fell to Matt Done who's shot was deflected wide when it looked like it was flying in.

Bazunu was called into action, pulling off a great close range save moments later in what was becoming an enthralling match.

Stephen Dooley was brought on for Dale and replaced Alex Newby. Not the change I'd have made if I'm honest but never mind.

Crewe hit the woodwork with 15 minutes left. A cross from Owen Dale was tipped onto the post by Bazunu.

A double sub saw Ryan McLaughlin and Kwadwo Baah come on for Ollie Rathbone and Jimmy Keohane with just over ten minutes left for Dale to complete the most unlikely of comebacks.

OH MY F*****G DAYS! 3-3!!! Kwadwo Baah hit a blistering shot at the keeper who managed claw it away for a corner but the corner came over and landed at the feet of Matt Lund who smashed the ball into the roof of the net! ALL YOU NEED IS LUND!

The game finished 3-3 and the comeback was complete.

As bad as the first half was, watching us actually have a go and getting back into the game was incredible. The second half was much better and how we should go at teams. That first half though needs addressing and that kind of performance is all too frequent unfortunately.

Have to build on that now for Tuesday.

PLAYER RATINGS:

Gavin Bazunu - 7 (Not sure he could have done much more with any of the goals and pulled off a couple of very good saves)

Jimmy Keohane - 6 (Seems to be out of position whenever Crewe got the ball in the first half but better second)

Eoghan O'Connell - 5 (Passing wayward and ball was passed around him all too easily before being taken off injured)

Haydon Roberts - 6 (Tried to get forward as much as possible. Much better at centre back)

Matty Done - 5 (Doesn't do enough for the first goal to stop the cross but better second half)

Alex Newby- 6 (Did at least try to create)

Aaron Morley - 7 (Kicked off the comeback with the goal in the opening minute of the second half)

MATT LUND - 8 (Two fantastic goals and completed the brilliant comeback)

Ollie Rathbone - 6 (Worked hard and got forward well)

Jake Beesley - 6 (Hard working performance from Beesley)

STEPHEN HUMPHRYS - 6 (Worked tirelessly again and had chances to score)

Subs:

Paul McShane - 6 (Very much off the pace to start which is to be expected at his age and having not played in months but got better as the game went on)
Stephen Dooley -6 (Did ok when he came on)
Ryan McLaughlin -6 (See above)
Kwadwo Baah - 7 (Looked dangerous when he came on)

Photo: Action Images



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