Football: Rochdale 0 - 0 Manchester United U21s

Date published: 30 September 2020

Rochdale AFC and Manchester United U21s played out a thoroughly entertaining 0-0 draw in the Northern Group B game at an empty Crown Oil Arena on Tuesday 29 September.

Both sides had chances in an open free flowing game of football with Dale captain for the night Aaron Morley seeing a second half penalty saved after Harrison Hopper was brought down in the box. With the score goalless at full time it was the visitors who took the bonus point with a 5-4 penalty shootout win.

The Dale manager made six changes to his side for the visit of Manchester United’s Under 21s. Aaron Morley captained the side as he stepped into the heart of the Dale defence alongside Jim McNulty whilst there was a home debut for new signing Jake Beesley.

The United side had some potential stars of the future in their starting line-up and some that have played for the first team in Europa League games. Anthony Elanga showed his pace time and time again down the left wing whilst their playmaker Hannibal was a real thorn in the side for Dale.

The visitors really piled on the pressure in the opening thirty minutes using Elanga’s pace to open up the Dale backline time and time again but the final ball was lacking or Jay Lynch easily rebuffed anything that came into the six yard box.

The first real save of the game was from Mastny in the United goal. A well worked piece down the left saw Lund pass to Dooley who’s side footed effort was tipped over by the 18 year old keeper.

Hannibal brought a low stop from Lynch with Ericolani firing across goal when he should have done better.

Fabio Tavares, who scored in the first group game away at Morecambe came close to breaking the deadlock; his low shot just about kept out by the outstretched left foot of Mastny.

Both sides had half chances in the latter stages of the first half as the home side turned the screw looking for an opener. Hopper cushioned a shot that was saved by Mastny whilst Beesley almost netted on his home debut when he slid in to try and reach a ball from Keohane but was inches away.

Dale had a glorious opportunity to edge in front from the penalty spot six minutes into the second half. When United defender Will Fish was slow at clearing from inside his own area, Harrison Hopper nipped in from behind with the defender bringing down the Dale youngster. Morley stepped up but his low effort was well saved by the United Keeper low to his right hand side; Morley’s follow up was also kept out.

The game continued to ebb and flow from one end to the other. Hannibal brought about a flying stop from Lynch with a free-kick from the edge of the area whilst Oli Rathbone hit the left hand upright with a shot from a very narrow angle after Keohane’s shot deflected to the Dale substitute.

A mistake from Jim McNulty almost gifted Joe Hugill what would have been a late winner when he was caught in possession just outside the area; the veteran defender making amends with a timely block as the 16 year old was about to strike at goal.

With the game ending goalless it was to penalties to decide who gained the bonus point.

Hannibal netted the first penalty with Dale’s first spot kick being saved, once again Aaron Morley the guilty party. Jay Lynch saved from Charlie Wellens to level the scoring and after Newby, Tavares, Keohane and Rathbone scored theirs, it was into sudden death. Hugill rifled his spot kick into the bottom corner which meant Hopper had to score to keep Dale in it but Mastny guessed the right way to save Hopper's penalty and earn the extra point for United.

Rochdale: Lynch, Keohane, Morley ©, McNulty, Done, Brierley (Mialkowski 82), Hopper, Lund (Rathbone 60), Dooley, Tavares, Beesley (Newby 60)
Substitutes: (not used) Bazunu, McShane, Dunne

Man Utd: Mastny, Ercolani , Bernard, Fish ©, Pye (Hansen-Aaroen 69), Svidersky, McCann, Elanga, Hannibal, Wellens, Hugill
Substitutes: (not used) Carney, Emeran, Stanley, Neville

Referee: Mr M Coy
Assistants: Mr C Isherwood & Mr R Cheosiaua
Fourth Official: Mr G Hilton

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