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Rochdale 3 v 4 Oxford United
SkyBet League One
Tuesday, 26th January 2021 Kick-off 19:00
Match Report: Rochdale 3-4 Oxford United
Tuesday, 26th Jan 2021 22:05 by Chaff

Another goalfest, another last minute goal conceded, another defeat at home, another poor defensive display, another absolutely mind blowingly frustrating game for Dale as Dale lost 4-3 at home to Oxford United.

With no time to still be reeling over the last-minute equaliser conceded on Saturday, Dale were back in action, this time at home to the form team in the league, Oxford United. The last time we played Oxford we were absolutely hammered, and they were bottom of the league then! Another game, like most, where a point would be a good result.

The first bit of news was that after AtThePeake deputised last week, I was back this week to do this report. I will try and not be too negative but sometimes I just can’t help it.

The team news filtered through and like many, I was delighted to see our number 9 Stephen Humphrys back in the starting eleven. Then I looked closer and my heart sank a little seeing Matt Done coming in for Ryan McLaughlin who was apparently having to isolate. Dale lined up with Gavin Bazunu in net, a back four of Saturday’s goal hero Jimmy Keohane, Gabriel Osho, Haydon Roberts and Matty Done. In midfield were Aaron Morley, Ollie Rathbone, Stephen Dooley and Kwadwo Baah with Matty Lund playing in an advanced role off Stephen Humphrys. On the bench were Ben Chalton, Joe Dunne, Ethan Brierley, Harrison Hopper, Lewis Bradley, Alex Newby and Fabio Tavares.

There was also a change to the iFollow commentary team with Paul Hudson and Martin Culshaw both absent, they were replaced by former Dale employee Stuart Ashworth and reporter Richard Partington. It was good to hear Stuart again after 5 years out of the role and he excelled himself when he said that it was weird being in the ground with no fans but that’s what it must be like for Rochdale Hornets every week. That amused me!

Oxford started the game like a freight train and Dale looked absolutely all over the place.

A Dale attack saw a counter-attack that inexplicably left Jimmy Keohane on his own with two men and somehow, Bazunu pulled off a wonderful save from Agyei’s shot to keep the score level. It’s like we just never ever learn!

Dale gave away a stupid free-kick after Dooley was caught out in the middle of the pitch which meant Done had to go chasing the break away and he brought down Agyei just outside the box and was quite rightly booked.

The resulting free kick was hit narrowly over the bar from Branagan thankfully.

Oxford were giving Dale the runaround in the opening 15 minutes or so and closing us down very quickly forcing us to be careless in possession.

With just over 10 minutes gone, Taylor forced Bazunu into another good save, this time from a corner from the right-hand side that founds it’s way to the Oxford number 9.

It was coming.

And then it arrived. With 12 minutes gone, Agyei, who had torn us apart so far put Oxford ahead. A really poor header clear from Dooley found it’s way to Agyei who then turned Rathbone and Dooley like they were Sunday League players and smashed it past Bazunu to give the visitors the deserved 1-0 lead.

As poor an opening 15 minutes as I can remember.

Thankfully, the goal did seem to spark a bit of life into Dale and they started getting forward a bit more. Humphrys managed to break forward and he was tackled by two Oxford players before the rebound was hit goalwards by Rathbone, but his shot was wide of the post.

With 22 minutes on the clock, I had to pinch myself to make sure it was real. Matt Done scored! I repeat, MATTY DONE SCORED! No, it’s not 2014, it’s 2021! Dooley of all people broke forward and he laid it off to Done who drilled it home with his left foot. If you’d told me that Done would score from a Dooley assist, I think I’d have died laughing but it happened, I saw it! Dale were level at 1-1. That is more like it!

Just 6 minutes later and the game was turned on it’s head. Dale were 2-1 ahead!! A corner from Morley was exquisitely backheeled home by Stephen Humphrys for his 7th goal of the season. A naughty little finish.

Oxford should have at least hit the target when Obita smashed one, but his effort flew over the Sandy Lane and probably landed somewhere on Denehurst Park.

With half time approaching Kwadwo Baah cut inside and shot but his effort was simple for the keeper. That was the first time the youngster had even been in the game.

Oxford ended the half the stronger side with Agyei volleying a weak effort straight at Bazunu. Another shot late on hit the side netting and then Oxford did have the ball in the net when Bazunu spilled a shot, but the striker was judged to have been offside.

The half time whistle came and thankfully Dale led 2-1.

Could we start the second half better than we did the first. In the words of Leonardo Di Caprio in The Wolf of Wall Street, “Absolutely f*****g not”!

Morley gave the ball away stupidly in the middle of the pitch and Obita broke forward but hit the side netting.

Then after Lund took a knock, Ollie Rathbone went flying into a challenge and gave away a ridiculous foul. He hurt himself in the process as well. The freekick was brilliantly crossed in and Moore rose above Lund, Osho and Roberts to head past Bazunu to make it 2-2. Nothing less than Oxford deserved either.

Just a few minutes left and Bazunu was forced into a wonderful save.

Baah was taken off on 58 minutes having been unable to have any kind of impact on the game. Newby replaced him.

Oxford again had the ball in the net through Obita but he was ruled offside.

The warning signs were there weren’t they? They may as well have been big neon lights in the sky saying, “we’re going to lose this!”

Literally one minute later and bang, 3-2 to Oxford. How is watching Dale good for people’s mental health? Substitute James Henry absolutely smashed an effort into the back of the net with Bazunu seemingly out of position for the goal.

Even at 3-2 you’re expecting goals at both ends still and sure enough, just two minutes later, the craziness continued as Dale were back level. A wonderful ball in from Morley was finished by Matt Lund who continued his great goalscoring season. Dale were back in it at 3-3 but for how long?!

Oxford made a triple substitution which saw their three most dangerous players go off in Agyei, Taylor and Obita and I was thinking, what the hell is Robinson doing but on came Winnall, Forde and Shodipo who absolutely tore us to bits in the reverse fixture.

Winnall should have scored with his first action as well, a good ball in was volleyed over by the Oxford striker with new Dale loanee Gabriel Osho giving Haydon Roberts a right bollocking.

With a little under quarter of an hour left and Dale should have been back ahead. Rathbone managed to break free and go one on one with the keeper before Moore came out of nowhere with an absolutely stunning tackle just as Rathbone was about to finish.

Dale went close again on 83 minutes when an excellent ball in from Morley narrowly missed Lund coming in at the back stick.

Stoppage time of 3 minutes was held up and Dale must have thought they’d stole a winner in the most outrageous of ways when Aaron Morley tried an effort from near the halfway line as he spotted the keeper off his line but the keeper managed to get back just in time.

That was that then was it?

Nope!

With 92 minutes on the clock, a ball was played back and Bazunu came racing out to clear it but he made an absolute hash of his clearance and passed it straight to Shodipo who hit a first time effort over the defence, over the keeper and into the back of the net from around 35 yards to give Oxford 4-3 win. What a mistake from Bazunu. What an absolute kick in the bollocks. That one hurt, a lot.

Lets not get away from it, Dale didn’t deserve to win the game if you look at the stats but how many goals do we have to score in games to start collecting more than a point here or there?

We have 1 home win in 16 games. Any other manager would have been sacked with that. I don’t want BBM sacked but I want him, and need him, and his young squad to learn from the mistakes they make and they don’t!

We haven’t won since we hammered Wigan back in December and we have 1 win in our last 9 games.

I just find it more frustrating if anything. I thought we'd go down because I didn't think we'd be good enough to stay up, now I think we'll go down despite being good enough to stay up.

PLAYER RATINGS:

Gavin Bazunu - 4 (Pulled off some good saves but cost us two goals, what a ridiculous mistake at the end)

Matt Done - 6 (Poor start to the game but scored and showed lots of energy after that)

Jimmy Keohane- 6 (Did ok overally, defended well and got forward)

Haydon Roberts - 6 (Nowhere near as good defensively as earlier in the season but do like his confidence on the ball)

Gabriel Osho – 6 (Did ok but the defence on the whole look like a Sunday League back line all too often, not his fault though)

Aaron Morley - 6 (Gave the ball away too much but still notched a couple of assists)
Kwadwo Baah - 5 (Never got into the game, subbed on 58 mins)

Stephen Dooley – 5 (Made two mistakes in the run up to the first goal and gave the ball away a lot, did get Done’s assist though)

MATT LUND - 6 (Did well, and scored another goal, my MOTM)

Ollie Rathbone - 6 (Hard working and tried to break when possible but got done for the first goal along with Dooley)

Stephen Humphrys - 6 (Scored a wonderful goal but that was as much action as he saw really)

Subs:

Alex Newby - 6 (Tried to get forward but lost the ball a couple of times in good areas)

Photo: Action Images



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