Football: Rochdale 1 - 1 Newcastle

Date published: 06 January 2020

Aaron Wilbraham earned Rochdale a 3rd round FA Cup replay at St James’ Park after the substitute’s late equaliser against Premier League side Newcastle. The veteran striker’s persistence saw him power a left footed shot past Martin Dubravka to earn the money spinning tie in the North East.

Early in the first half. Paraguayan international Miguel Almiron had drilled his side into the lead as the visitors dominated the opening 45 minutes. Dale improved after the interval and will feel unfortunate not to have won the game with Ollie Rathbone having three good chances and captain Ian Henderson hitting a post.

In front of a near sell out Crown Oil Arena, the atmosphere was electric with over 3,000 Newcastle fans arriving in Lancashire in what was a first ever meeting between these two sides. All the talk from the North East in the build up was about Newcastle’s injury worries but manager Steve Bruce was still able to name a starting eleven that cost almost £100 million to assemble despite making five changes from their New Years day defeat at home to Leicester City.

Rochdale manager Barry-Murphy is still without six of his players through injury and made one change from the side that beat Accrington on Wednesday; MJ Williams returning from suspension to replace the injured Paul McShane. 16-year-old Kwawdo Baah getting his third start in as many games.

The Magpies, in a poor run of form in the Premier League set about the task of unlocking the Dale defence from the first whistle and played at a high tempo that at times the home side couldn’t live with. Christian Atsu, at just 5’5” tall, caused problems for Dale’s stand in right back Tyler Magloire with his low centre of gravity and pace and the Ghana International broke through time and time again. His quick footwork gave him space to cross in the eleventh minute; his pull back perfect for Joelinton with the Brazilian firing horribly over the bar.

The next time Atsu got through it resulted in the opener. Some good work down the left by Atsu left Magloire in his wake and when he played it square to Almiron, the Paraguayan’s touch saw the ball sit nicely for him to lash a volley past Sanchez.

The signs looked ominous for Barry-Murphy’s side as Newcastle attacked at will looking to extend their lead and they should have done through Joelinton. The club record signing in the Summer for £40 million broke through the middle and when he dropped his left shoulder to create space it looked like he would net his side’s second until his left footed shot went well wide of the post.

The Dale manager made a change on the half hour mark replacing the struggling Magloire with youngster Luke Matheson. Matheson’s introduction seemed to stem the flow as he marshalled Atsu better than Magloire had done but Newcastle switched most of their attacks down the opposite flank with Deandre Yedlin. The American used his pace with 5 minutes remaining in the first half to beat Jimmy Keohane and when the ball fell at the feet of Yoshinori Muto, it took a save with his legs from Sanchez to deny the Japanese International.

Dale rarely troubled the visitors defence in the first half, Ollie Rathbone’s shot deflected off Callum Camps and over whilst Camps flashed a shot wide of the mark as we approached half-time.

There was still one last chance for the visitors before the break; Joelinton’s neat turn and shot was brilliantly tipped away by Sanchez who had to use his full 6’ 6” frame to reach but he had to be quickly back to his feet to blocked a follow up shot by Yedlin.

Dale made another change at the break replacing Baah with Wilbraham as Barry-Murphy looked for a bit more height up front and the change seemed to work as the home side looked a far more potent threat in the second half.

Rathbone sprang to life and forced Dubravka into his first real save eleven minutes after the restart. His mazy run and left footed shot brought about a diving save to his right by the Slovakian; Ian Henderson flagged offside as he followed up to keep the move alive.

Rathbone was again at the heart of all Dale’s attacks and when he took a ball out of defence from Williams on his chest, it set the former Manchester United man away through the middle. The 22-year-old hit a low shot that was tipped away by Dubravka; Henderson could only hit the post from a very acute angle with the follow up.

It was Newcastle that were being forced back with their attacks being very few and far between. Joelinton’s deflected header hitting the outside of Sanchez’ right hand post the closest the visitor’s came to troubling the score line.

Barry-Murphy made his third and final change with twenty minutes left as he replaced Stephen Dooley with a fit again Ryan McLaughlin as Dale looked to use pace to unlock the door to the visitors defence.

Matheson’s run down the right and pull back found Rathbone inside the box. His first touch took him around Federico Fernandez and with just the keeper to beat; Rathbone saw his shot saved by an outstretched leg from the keeper.

Rochdale were knocking on the door and eventually they burst through it when all three substitutes combined. A mistake by Joelinton saw Keohane pick up a loose ball and when it was worked out to McLaughlin on the right, Newcastle were struggling. The right back, playing further forward as a right winger ran forward with Matheson using his pace to race through to provide an option. A neat through ball found the defender on the right of the box who in turn found Wilbraham who got a little luck when his first touch came back off a defender with the 40-year-old making no mistake as he drilled a low shot beyond Dubravka to spark scenes reminiscent of when Steven Davies equalised against Spurs in the same goal.

The Magpies were rocked and it could have been worse for Steve Bruce’s side in stoppage time when Eoghan O’Connell, making his way back to his defensive position stole the ball off Atsu. O'Connell unselfishly found Rathbone who dragged his shot wide when he really should have done better.

The full time whistle was met with sheer jubilation from 5,500 Rochdale fans and boos from the travelling faithful from the North East but these two will do it all again in around 10 days time at the 53,000 seater capacity stadium at St James’ Park, Newcastle.


Rochdale: Sanchez, Magloire (Matheson 30), MJ Williams, O’Connell, Keohane, Dooley (McLaughlin 69), Rathbone, Ryan, Baah (Wilbraham 46), Camps, Henderson ©
Substitutes: (not used) Lynch, Andrew, Gillam, Tavares

Newcastle: Dubravka, Fernandez ©, Krafth, Hayden, Yedlin, Atsu, S Longstaff, M Longstaff, Joelinton, Almiron (Ritchie 63), Muto (Sungyueng 53)
Substitutes: (not used) Darlow, Lejeune, Cass, Sorensen, Allan

Referee: Mr D Coote
Assistants: Mr S Burt & Mr P Dermott
Fourth Official: Mr S Oldham

Attendance: 8,593 (3,015 from Newcastle)

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