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Harrogate Town 3 v 2 Rochdale
SkyBet League Two
Saturday, 7th August 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Match Report: Harrogate Town 3-2 Rochdale
Saturday, 7th Aug 2021 20:18 by Chaff

After the best part of 18 months without being able to go to watch them, Dale supporters were left gutted after a stoppage winner for Harrogate got them all three points in a 3-2 defeat for Rochdale.

Dale lined up with a very different team that finished last season, with a new manager as well in Robbie Stockdale. Jay Lynch was in net, Corey O’Keeffe at right back, Aidy White at left back and Max Taylor partnering Jim McNulty in a defence with three brand new faces. Eoghan O’Connell and Jimmy Keohane missed out through injury. Dale’s midfield was a bit more familiar with Aaron Morley captaining the side in O’Connell’s absence and he was joined by Stephen Dooley and Conor Grant. Alex Newby and Abraham Odoh played wide of Jake Beesley. On the bench were: Joel Coleman, Joe Dunne, Sam Graham, Ethan Brierley, George Broadbent, Matt Done and Danny Cashman.

To be brutally honest, Dale had a mountain to climb after the first ten minutes. Two individual mistakes saw Dale 2-0 down in the opening stages. An awful mistake from Jim McNulty allowed in Jack Muldoon who played in Luke Armstrong to open the scoring after just 6 minutes.

Another mistake followed when Aaron Morley was caught in possession on the edge of his own box and Alex Pattison capitalised and curled the ball past Lynch into the far corner. A great finish but a gift.

A hectic start to the game with Dale actually looking good going forward with Odoh causing problems down the left constantly.

Dale pulled a goal back on 15 minutes thanks to Alex Newby. He was played in by Dooley and coolly finished into the far bottom corner to make it 2-1 to the home side.

The game was quite open and both sides had created chances to score. Beesley went close with a header for Dale while Power went close for the home side with a shot that flew over the bar. Beesley was brilliantly denied by Oxley in the Harrogate net when he must have thought he’d scored. I know I did.

Max Taylor had a header well blocked while Dooley and Morley both went close as well as Dale had really got back into the game.

Then, just before half time, Jay Lynch pulled off a magnificent save, even if he knew very little about it as former Dale striker Jack Muldoon’s effort was somehow deflected wide by the Dale keeper.

The half time whistle blew and mistakes had cost Dale big time but Dale had looked good going forward.

With less than 5 minutes of the second half gone, Dale were back on level terms! Conor Grant with the curling effort to send the 650 Dale fans into “scenes”.

Dale did seem to sit back a touch, or at least Harrogate managed to get themselves on the front foot a bit more as both Muldoon and Pattison had efforts for the home side, the latter forcing a good block from Max Taylor.

Odoh was booked for a late challenge, but Harrogate’s Alex Pattison was lucky to still be on the pitch following his reaction which was to charge over and push Odoh to the ground! A yellow card!

With 66 minutes gone, Dale made their first change with Aidy White coming off for fellow debutant Sam Graham. This saw Graham go to right back while Corey O’Keeffe swapped over to left back. Dale were forced into their second change a few minutes later when Abraham Odoh went off limping and the tricky winger was replaced by Danny Cashman.

Dale really should have been ahead on with just over 10 minutes left. Conor Grant had been replaced by George Broadbent who was put in by Beesley but his first touch, which was his first touch of the game, was poor and the ball ran through to Oxley.

Broadbent went close again a bit later when he attempted a shot from the edge of the box but it was high and wide. Arguably, Cashman out wide was better positioned and the on-loan midfielder apologised to the on-loan attacker!

There were 7 minutes of stoppage time added on due to the time it took the Harrogate stewards to remove a smoke from, thrown on the pitch by a section of the Dale support.

Just when we thought we were good for a point, and an unbeaten start to Stockdale’s Dale tenure, Dale turned into, well, erm…..Dale. They couldn’t clear a Harrogate set-piece and the Harrogate full back Warren Burrell was on hand to snatch a winner in stoppage time to make it 3-2 to the hosts. Heartbreak for Dale.

Dale did have a shout for a penalty turned down when O’Keeffe looked like he’d been clipped in the box but the referee waved play on and Dale start the season with a defeat.

A performance with plenty of positives on an attacking front but one that saw old issues rear their head. Individual mistakes and looking unconvincing defending set pieces.

We have to remember this is a new team, we have new faces, manager included who have only come into the club in recent weeks, even days. This is a work in progress but there are positive there without doubt and I’m excited for it.

It was magnificent to be back watching Dale. Seeing the friendly faces around and greeting people I’ve not seen for the best part of 18 months was joyous, regardless of the result.

It felt good. I want more of it.


PLAYER RATINGS:

Jay Lynch – 6 (Didn’t do anything wrong for me, had no chance with either goal)

Corey O’Keeffe – 6 (Struggled in the air against their number 6 but got forward well and did ok)

Max Taylor - 6 (Good ball player by the looks of it and a big lad as well but did look a touch clumsy at times

Jim McNulty – 4 (Awful mistake for the first goal and in all honesty, had a really poor first half. Got better second half)

Aidy White – 5 (Looked a bit off the pace and did give the ball awaya few times in the first half)

Aaron Morley – 5 (Confident we’ll see a much better Aaron Morley this season but he’s obviously lacking confidence, poor for the second goal)

Stephen Dooley – 6 (Not too bad from Dooley. Linked up well but too many balls weren’t delivered quick enough)

Conor Grant – 7 (Would have been a 6 but for the goal. Slow start to the game but did get better as the game went on and took his goal very well)

Alex Newby – 7 (Good goal in the first half and caused Harrogate problems)

ABRAHAM ODOH – 8 (Exciting, direct and wanted to run at players all the time. Really impressive I thought)

Jake Beesley – 7 (Don’t think he lost a header all game and worked his socks off)

SUBS:

Sam Graham – 6 (Put a couple of decent crosses on but presumably he’s more of a centre back than a right back)

Danny Cashman – 5 (Didn’t get into the game at all really but evidently has talent)

George Broadbent – 6 (Could have given Dale the lead with his second touch if his first touch had been better and had a glorious chance to score another. Worked hard when he came on though)

Photo: Action Images



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