Football: Rochdale 2 - 1 Shrewsbury
Date published: 11 March 2019
Rochdale began life after Keith Hill with victory as caretaker manager Brian Barry-Murphy steered his side to a first win in five against fellow strugglers Shrewsbury Town. Defenders Kgosi Ntlhe and Jim McNulty netted either side of half time to give the home side a comfortable lead although a nervy end to the game saw the Shrews get a goal back in stoppage time. The visitors came close to stealing a point when with virtually the last kick of the game Josh Laurent saw his shot saved with Dale’s Ntlhe smashing the ball against his own crossbar trying to clear; Luke Waterfall finding the side netting with the follow up.
After the sacking of Keith Hill on Monday, Dale coach Brian Barry-Murphy took over the reigns on a temporary basis as the Spotland outfit face a ten game mini-season to try and preserve their league one status and they started the day five points from safety.
It was a must win game for the visitors too as they are hovering just above the drop zone and victory would see them climb nine points clear of Rochdale.
Dale got off to a great start when Kgosi Ntlhe went for an audacious shot from distance; Steve Arnold back pedalling to tip the ball over for a corner. From the resultant flag kick, Ntlhe volleyed Dale into a 15th minute lead. The defender, who has missed the last eight games through injury, hit a right footed volley from inside the box past Steve Arnold for his second goal of the season.
The diminutive defender was having a hugely influential afternoon both up front and at the back as he headed a dangerous looking corner away at the back post as Shrewsbury were looking to hit back.
Luke Waterfall was lucky to escape with a yellow card just before half-time when he brought down Ian Henderson as the Dale skipper was through on goal; the referee not deeming it a clear goal scoring opportunity.
Shrewsbury still looked dangerous and in terrible weather conditions, Shaun Whalley stinging the palms of Andy Lonergan with a rasping drive from distance.
The second half started even better for Barry-Murphy’s side as they doubled their advantage just two minutes after the re-start. Joe Bunney was felled by Whalley on the left and when the wing back dusted himself down, he sent a delightful ball into the area. Ntlhe got to the ball first; his shot spilled by Arnold into the path of McNulty who slotted in from two yards out.
Dale’s on loan goalkeeper has shown what a brilliant shot stopper he is in his short time at the club and when Omar Beckles powered a header down into the ground, the Middlesbrough loanee somehow got his fingertip to it to turn it behind for a corner.
The home side, on course for only their second win of 2019, had appeals for a penalty turned down when Luke Waterfall appeared to handle the ball inside the area; the official waving away any appeals.
The visitors ramped up the pressure as the game headed for its conclusion. Waterfall thought he’d scored only for his celebrations to be cut short by an assistants flag for offside.
Jim McNulty made a crucial intervention as substitute Amadi-Holloway looked set to strike.
With five minutes time added on by the referee, Shrewsbury did pull a goal back through Greg Docherty. A surging run down the right saw the ball pulled back into the Dale area and when both Amadi-Holloway and Josh Laurent intelligently stepped over the ball; Docherty was racing in to finish into the bottom corner of the net.
Home nerves were frazzled as Sam Rickett’s men poured forward and in the seventh minute of added time, the 525 travelling fans from Shropshire thought they had levelled. Laurent’s instinctive shot from just inside the area brought about a brilliant one handed save from Lonergan and as the ball bounced in front of goal, Amadi-Holloway and Ntlhe challenged with the Dale man seemingly getting to the ball first and crashing it against his own crossbar. With the Dale defenders rushing to get back, Waterfall smashed his shot into the side netting as the full time whistle went.
It was a frantic end to bottom of the table clash which saw a hugely important three points for Dale as other results meant they would have been cut adrift even further had they not have held on for the win. With Oxford at the Crown Oil Arena on Tuesday, it’s another ‘six pointer’ to see if Rochdale can make it back-to-back wins for the first time since Christmas.
Rochdale: Lonergan, Ebanks-Landell, McNulty, Ntlhe, Bunney, McLaughlin, MJ Williams, Camps, Rathbone (Dooley 74), Inman (Andrew 82), Henderson © (Clough 89)
Substitutes: (not used) Wade, J Williams, Adshead, Done
Shrewsbury: Arnold, Williams, Haynes, Beckles, Waterfall, Edwards (Laurent 70), Whalley, Docherty, Norburn, Campbell (Payne 71), Okenabirhie (A-Holloway 59)
Substitutes: (not used) Charles-Cook, Sadler, Sears, Golbourne
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