Reporter: Martin Culshaw
Date online: 28 January 2012
Rochdale demolished near neighbours Bury after running out 3-0 winners in the East Lancashire derby at Spotland. New manager John Coleman’s first game in charge ended with a first 3 points for Dale in 10 games. Jean Louis Akpa-Akpro opened the scoring before Ashley Grimes netted a brace to ensure Dale’s first double of the season.
Coleman rang the changes for his first game in charge. 4 players were giving starts that didn’t get in the first 11 at Wycombe last weekend. Joe Widdowson, Ashley Grimes, Nicky Adams & new signing Kevin Long started with Dean Holden and Brett Ormerod dropping to the bench whilst Marcus Holness and Daniel Bogdanovic missed out altogether.
The home side looked to hit the ground running and took the game to Bury from the whistle. Gary Jones forced Belford into a fine early save after great link up play from Akpa-Akpro & Adams.
Akpa-Akpro curled a 25 yard effort straight at Belford whilst the Frenchman will feel he should have done better moments later after he was picked out Adams.
Some of Rochdale’s football was a joy to watch and they carved open the Bury backline time after time. Jones fizzed another effort just over as the opening goal looked like it was due any time.
Dale did open the scoring on 15 minutes. Former Bury player Adams sent a deep cross to the back post where Jones rose but saw his header brilliantly saved by Belford but the rebound fell to Akpa-Akpro who bundled home to get Coleman’s reign off to a flying start.
A quick freekick by Schumacher on 25 minutes caught the Dale defence napping but Kurucz saved well from Sweeney’s shot.
Dale’s pace and movement was too much for The Shakers and when Sodje beckoned his keeper to come for a ball Grimes nipped in but couldn’t beat Belford who pushed away from close range.
Coleman’s side deservedly doubled their advantage 5 minutes before the interval. Barry-Murphy’s ball out of defence found Adams whose driving run split the visiting defence. Adams picked out Kennedy who on the turn saw his shot blocked but the ball span up to Grimes who turned the ball home for his first goal since 1st October.
Dale fans were in a jubilant mood whilst the 2000 or so travelling fans had little to shout about. They had their expectations raised a little when Schumacher’s free kick just inside the Dale half evaded everybody but Kurucz pushed away.
The half time team talk from Coleman and assistant Jimmy Bell must have a been a fairly straight forward one as not much need to change in the second period. Akpa-Akpro’s flick found Adams down the left and after exchanging passes with Grimes the Dale winger found himself within shooting range but got his angles all wrong as his effort sailed well over.
It didn’t take long for Dale to make it 3 and again Adams was the catalyst. Another run down the left saw him skip past Picken before pulling back to Grimes who from close range slammed the ball into the roof of the net.
Bury looked deflated as Rochdale went for more goals. Akpa-Akpro’s bicycle kick was caught by Belford whilst Substitute Andrew Tutte’s pile driver was acrobatically pushed away by the keeper. Kevin Long almost capped his debut with a goal but his header from a Barry-Murphy corner was smothered away.
Shakers substitute Lenell John-Lewis had their best effort of the latter stages but his looping header was catching practice for Kurucz.
The best move of the game came in stoppage time when a sweeping Dale move found full back Widdowson surging forward but his cut inside and shot was deflected wide.
All in all a very satisfying performance from Coleman’s men but at this stage it’s the 3 points that matter the most as Dale moved off the bottom of League One and to within 1 point of safety.
John Coleman spoke afterwards: “I’m really pleased but the players must take all the credit. People will say it was a new manager’s first game and he did it but the players were the ones out there who played the game. Forget there was a new manager out there and focus on how good they played as some of the stuff they produced was breathtaking. All our teams (John and Jimmy Bell) are set up the same and that is to play at a high tempo and pass the ball. Any chances to shoot then do and you will score goals. We set the players up and left them to it. If they do as we say then all the credit will go to the lads themselves. Ashley’s calf was tightening up so we had to be mindful and bring him off. It would have been nice for him to stay on and get his hat-trick. A 3-0 win today and Wycombe losing 5-2 means a 6 goal swing in goal difference which could be vital at the end of the season. I was pleased with the clean sheet but I don’t think you can single anybody out today, they were all magnificent. Its a special day for the players and its a special day for the fans.”
Rochdale: Kurucz, Widdowson, Amankwaah, Long,, Darby, Jones ©, Barry-Murphy, Kennedy, Adams (Ormerod 84), Grimes (Tutte 70), Akpa-Akpro
Subs (not used): Lucas, Thompson, Holden
Bury: Belford, Picken, Skarz, Sweeney (Doble 58), Worrall (Carrington 80), Schumacher (c) (John-Lewis), Bishop, Coke, Sodje, Eastham, Amoo
Subs (not used): Hughes, Williams
Referee: Mr S Mathieson
Ass Referee: Mr D Benton, Mr P Curry
4th Official: Mr P Graham