Football: Walsall 1 - 2 Rochdale
Date published: 03 February 2019
Rochdale earned their first win of 2019 with a hard fought victory at struggling Walsall. Ethan Ebanks-Landell fired Dale into an early lead after a corner saw the ball fall at his feet and he rifled in. Home captain Joe Edwards levelled before half-time when his bobbling effort snook past Josh Lillis and into the bottom corner. The visitors won it on the hour mark, Hamilton sending a right footed shot beyond Liam Roberts. Walsall threw everything at Dale in stoppage time but Keith Hill’s side held on for the win.
After all the new arrivals in the January transfer window, it was somewhat of a surprise that the Dale boss named an unchanged side from that which narrowly lost at promotion chasing Barnsley last time out. New loan signings Joe Bunney and Rekeil Pyke took their places on the bench. Jim McNulty made his 400th career appearance.
Dale took the lead inside four minutes when a corner from the right saw the ball drop to Ebanks-Landell who drilled an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net for his first goal in a Rochdale shirt.
Walsall looked lacklustre in the opening exchanges but improved after the first fifteen minutes. Nicky Devlin going close when he crashed a shot off the post although the flag would have ruled out any follow up.
Dean Keates’ side, who came into the game with just one win in nine games, deservedly levelled nine before the break. Skipper Joe Edwards ran unopposed towards the edge of the area and sent a shot that crept inside the post.
Walsall started the second half as the better of the two sides and it took a brilliant tackle from Ebanks-Landell to deny Morgan Ferrier who was through on goal three minutes after the re-start.
Ferrier was a thorn in the Dale side and when he dispossessed Rory Holden on the half way line, the striker headed for goal; Josh Lillis equal to anything Ferrier had.
Rochdale edged back in front when Hamilton ran unoppossed, in a similar way to Edwards for Walsall, and slotted into the bottom right hand corner in front of the 288 travelling fans.
Walsall had some tame appeals for a penalty turned down when substitute Aramide Blackett-Taylor seized upon a short backpass and when he rounded Lillis, Ebanks-Landell eased the on loan West Brom man off the ball to clear.
The home side threw everything at Dale in the almost seven minutes of stoppage time with Dale substitute Joe Bunney standing strong to keep them out, including a last gasp sliding tackle on Luke Leahy when the defender looked in on goal.
The win takes Dale up to 18th in League One, two points clear of the drop zone with Coventry City up next at the Crown Oil Arena.
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