Football: Rochdale 2 - 0 Bolton

Date published: 14 January 2020

Luke Matheson scored his first league goal to set Rochdale on course for victory over former manager Keith Hill’s Bolton Wanderers. The 17-year-old kept his cool to finish past Remi Matthews on the stroke of half-time after he’d linked up well with fellow teenager Kwadwo Baah.

Bolton had chances either side of Matheson’s goal with former Dale loanee Ethan Hamilton twice hitting the woodwork on his Wanderer’s debut and forcing Sanchez into a string of saves. The result was sealed when Jimmy Ryan’s 20 yard shot deflected off Yoan Zouma for his first goal for the club and making it three wins and a draw (Dale winning on penalties in the EFL Trophy game) this season against their Lancashire rivals.

With rumours a host of clubs are interested in signing Rochdale midfielder Ollie Rathbone, the rumour mill was in overdrive as the teams were announced with the former Manchester United man missing from the Dale squad for this game against former manager Keith Hill. Rathbone, injured in training on Friday, was sat in the stands with his fellow team-mates and first team coach Lee Riley confirming afterwards that the only reason for Rathbone’s omission was injury.

This local derby was played in front of a very vocal crowd of over 5,500, swelled by 2,500 from Bolton and the game was played at a high tempo throughout.

The first chance of the game fell Bolton’s way with the energetic Hamilton coming mightily close to netting on his Bolton debut, just as he had for Rochdale last season when Keith Hill took the Manchester United man on loan at the Crown Oil Arena. The Scot, known for his long-range shots, took aim from outside the box and when it hit Eoghan O’Connell on the way through, Robert Sanchez was wrong footed. Luck was on the side of Brian Barry-Murphy’s men as the ball hit the right-hand post and was cleared from danger.

The only goal of the half came in the 44th minute through young full-back Matheson. Baah, who had moments earlier been switched from the left wing onto the right wing got the better of Adam Chicksen which allowed him to feed Matheson. The youngster beat Zouma before coolly lifting the ball over Matthews to score his first senior league goal.

There was a massive change in the weather over the half-time interval with dry calm conditions replaced by swirling winds and incessant rain which made life difficult for the players.

Bolton, rooted to the bottom of league one after a 12-point deduction at the start of the season for going into administration, hit the woodwork once again in the opening minutes of the second half. Some good work between Ronan Darcy and Hamilton on the edge of the box saw the latter turn and send a shot that beat Sanchez but not the crossbar as the ball crashed back into play; Darcy with the follow up went straight at the Rochdale goalkeeper who caught the ball easily.

Hamilton was a real thorn in the Dale side as he brought out the best in Sanchez on couple of occasions. One low shot to his right was pushed away by the Spaniard whilst a free kick from 20 yards was well turned behind leaving the loanee wondering how he hadn’t scored.

Dale’s leading scorer Ian Henderson thought he’d doubled his side’s lead after a mistake by Zouma. The young defender's headed back-pass lacked power with Henderson latching onto the loose ball before lifting over Matthews; his effort bounced on the wrong side of the post.

Both sides had half chances in the later stages of the second half, Liam Edwards heading wide from a corner whilst Henderson’s turn and shot also missed the target.

The goal that clinched the points for the home side came with ten minutes remaining; Jimmy Ryan taking aim from 22 yards out and getting the luck as it clipped Zouma sending Matthews the wrong way and the ball ended up in the back of the net.

The win meant it was back-to-back league wins for Rochdale and a real confidence booster heading into the FA Cup replay against Newcastle at St James’ Park on Tuesday evening.


Rochdale: Sanchez, Matheson, MJ Williams, O’Connell, Keohane, Baah (Tavares 56), Ryan, Camps, Dooley, Wilbraham (Andrew 79), Henderson © (Bradley 89)
Substitutes: (not used) Lynch, Delaney, Gillam, Brierley

Bolton: Matthews, Emmanuel, Zouma, Nsiala, Chicksen, Darcy, Hamilton, Graham (Faal 66), Edwards, Dodoo (O’Grady 74) Murphy
Substitutes: (not used) Alexander, Brockbank, Hall, Thomason, Senior

Referee: Mr L Doughty
Assistants: Mr D Plowright & Mr D Hunt
Fourth Official: Mr J Simpson

Attendance: 5,560 (2,544 from Bolton)

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