Football: Rochdale 1 - 0 Southend United

Date published: 29 April 2019

Rochdale will be playing League One football again next season after Ian Henderson’s 21st goal of the season earned the team victory over struggling Southend on Saturday 27 April.

The Dale captain pounced to slot in from close range after Southend keeper Mark Oxley could only parry Ethan Hamilton’s scuffed shot.

Survival for Rochdale tops off a remarkable turnaround under Brian Barry-Murphy with the former player and coach, who took over when long serving manager Keith Hill was sacked in March, guiding the side to a likely mid table finish and thus ensuring no last day drama like last season.

Back-to-back victories over Easter meant Dale only needed a point to maintain their League One status whilst visitors Southend were still deep in relegation trouble. The Essex side, whose chairman paid for coach travel for supporters to attend the game, came into the game just one point above the drop zone with two games remaining.

On a blustery and wet afternoon with a heavy pitch, a pretty game was never likely and that’s the way it proved, particularly the first half which saw chances few and far between.

The best chance of a goal came for the visitors when central defender Taylor Moore met a right wing free-kick, Josh Lillis equal to the effort, tipping it over the crossbar.

Dale came out all guns blazing at the start of the second half and took the game to their opponents and edged in front eight minutes after the re-start. Joe Bunney’s corner found its way to Hamilton, who, from 18 yards out, tried his luck at goal. He scuffed his shot with Mark Oxley getting down to save, but the keeper couldn’t keep hold of the ball and it fell to Henderson, who made no mistake from close range.

Dale started to relax and played some great football in the second half. A fine move involving Camps and Henderson saw the ball flash across goal, MJ Williams inches away from contact as he slid in.

Rekeil Pyke used his pace to force an error from the Southend defence. The on-loan Huddersfield Town striker raced through after the keeper hesitated; his pull back to Camps was perfect although the midfielder’s cushioned volley was easily saved.

After claiming an assist for the goal, Ethan Hamilton set about trying to add to his tally of four goals with three shots from distance within quick succession. The first was tame and easy pickings for Oxley whilst the second flashed across goal. His third effort was a free-kick from fully 35 yards with Oxley getting down well to save; nobody in a Dale shirt could follow up after the keeper spilled it.

The travelling fans thought they had earned a precious point in stoppage time. Substitute Stephen McLaughlin’s clever finish over the on rushing Josh Lillis looked to have rescued a point - only for an assistant’s flag for offside to cut short the celebrations.

In the end, it wouldn’t have mattered what the result was as other results meant Brian Barry-Murphy had done the job he was asked to do in preserving League One status with one game remaining.

It's now over to the Irishman to shape his squad for next season as he will be looking to avoid a repeat of the last two terms.

Rochdale: Lillis, Keohane, Ebanks-Landell, McNulty, Bunney, Camps, MJ Williams (Dooley 72), Hamilton, Pyke (Done 63), Henderson © (Andrew 87), Wilbraham
Subs: (not used) Wade, Delaney, Ntlhe, Adshead

Southend: Oxley, Turner, Moore, White, Bwomono, Hendrie (McLaughlin 60), Hyam (Dieng 14) (Kightly 60), Mantom ©, Kiernan, Bunn, Cox
Subs: (not used) Bishop, Yearwood, Kelman, Hart

Referee: Mr B Toner
Assistants: Mr D Ford & Mrs N Aspinall
Fourth Official: Mr M Edwards

Attendance: 5,000 (1,115 from Southend)

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