Rochdale 2 - 2 Northampton Town

Date published: 18 October 2017

Rochdale needed a magnificent penalty save from goalkeeper Josh Lillis with three minutes remaining to earn a point at home against struggling Northampton despite leading 2-0 through Ian Henderson. Lillis got down low to his right to keep out John-Joe O’Toole’s spot kick after the substitute had been pulled down inside the area.

Ian Henderson fired Dale into the lead with a brilliant finish from inside the penalty area with the captain doubling his tally when he was quickest to react after his penalty was saved to push the ball over the line.

Northampton got back into the game when defender Ash Taylor stooped to head a Matt Grimes corner beyond Lillis before David Buchanan drilled a low shot in off the post when Dale failed to clear.

In a thoroughly entertaining game, Rochdale played some of the best football of the season in an opening 45 minutes that saw both side go close. 

Dale were unlucky not to take an early lead when Matt Done’s looping header seemingly had Ingram beaten but the ball landed just the wrong side of the crossbar.

Some of Dale’s passing ripped the Northampton backline apart on a number of occasions; Henderson well marshalled by Aaron Pierre when played in by Andrew.

Northampton went close when a swift counter attack down the right by Foley was eventually played out wide before a deep cross was met by the continuing run of Foley at the back post with McNulty and Lillis on hand to turn the ball behind for a corner.

From that corner, Dale opened the scoring. A deep ball was well won by Camps who ran from deep before sending a delightful diagonal ball to Henderson who allowed the ball to bounce before volleying into the far corner from inside the box.

The goal certainly gave Rochdale a sparkle and they looked dangerous with every attack. MJ Williams’ clever lifted ball over the defence set Inman in on goal but he was foiled by some brave goalkeeping.

Inman was again left frustrated by Ingram when he latched onto an Andrew chest pass; his powerful drive pushed away for a corner.

The second half saw Northampton come out with a bit more fight about them after a half-time talk from manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.

A foul by Jim McNulty in a dangerous position saw Matt Grimes go agonisingly close from the resultant free-kick.

With Northampton committing men forward, Dale got the chance to hit them on the counter attack which resulted in the second goal.

Inman’s pace created space down the left and when he pulled the ball back into the area towards Done, Buchanan pushed over the Dale striker with referee Darren Drysdale showing no hesitation in pointing to the spot. 

Henderson stepped up and despite seeing his spot kick saved by Ingram, the Northampton keeper could do nothing to stop Henderson on the follow up score his second of the evening.

At this stage there only looked to be one winner as Rochdale piled on the pressure.

Inman’s low cross again caused problems as the Town defence became stretched but they smothered it away.

Many inside the Crown Oil Arena thought a third goal had gone in when Camps turned a cross into the side netting from close range but from then on the game swung in Northampton’s favour.

Dale’s Achilles heel came back to haunt them as they did not defend acorner well enough and when the ball was loose seven yards from goal, defender Ash Taylor was on hand to power a header into the net.

Dale were rattled and soon after Northampton drew level. Again a loose ball fell kindly inside the area with full back David Buchanan on hand to drill a low shot in off the far post against his home town club.

At this stage Rochdale were just about holding on but when Harrison McGahey hauled down O’Toole inside the box, the referee was again pointing to the spot. O’Toole dusted himself down to take the spot kick but was brilliantly denied by Lillis.

The game was on a knife edge as it entered four minutes of stoppage time because either side could have snatched it.

Dale went closest when substitute Jordan Slew slid a shot agonisingly wide when well placed in front of goal in the final action of the game.

Rochdale: Lillis, Rafferty, McGahey, McNulty, Bunney, MJ Williams, Camps, Henderson (c), Inman, Andrew (Slew 89), Done (Davies 77).
Substitutes: (not used) Moore, Ntlhe, J Williams, Rathbone, Daniels.

Northampton: Ingram, Moloney, Taylor, Pierre, Buchanan (c), Foley (O’Toole 72), Poole, Grimes, Powell, Long (Hoskins 82), Waters.
Substitutes :(not used) Cornell, Kasim, Bowditch, McWilliams, Smith.

Referee: Mr D Drysdale.
Assistants: Mr D Street and Mr D Gratton.
Fourth Official: Mr M Heywood.

Attendance: 2,138

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