Football: Rochdale 2 - 1 Fleetwood

Date published: 05 October 2020

Fabio Tavares came off the bench to score a 90th minute winner on Saturday (3 October) as Rochdale won their first league game of the season in an entertaining game at a very wet and windy Crown Oil Arena.

Tavares capitalised on a loose ball inside the area after Alex Cairns could only parry Matty Done’s shot into the path of the 19-year-old striker who lifted the ball into the top corner.

Matty Lund had headed Dale into a 14th minute lead as the home side dominated the first half but couldn’t add to their tally. Fleetwood improved after the break and drew level through sub Harvey Saunders when he swept home from 10 yards out before Tavares went on to win it for Brian Barry-Murphy’s side.

Coming into this game on the back of a 5 game winless run, the Dale manager was forced into making a couple of changes to his matchday squad. Jimmy Ryan was missing so Stephen Dooley stepped up from the bench whilst goalkeeper Jay Lynch was attending the birth of his child so 17 year old youth team goalkeeper Ben Chalton got a taste of being in the first team matchday squad for the first time.

With heavy rain battering the Crown Oil Arena, it was a good test of the extensive pitch and drainage works carried out by the club over the summer and it must be said, it passed the test with flying colours.

Rochdale came out of the blocks the fastest and had their early claims for a penalty waved away by referee James Oldham in the fourth minute. A lovely ball over the top saw Jake Beesley baring down on goal and as he tried to round the goalkeeper, Cairns seemingly brought him down but the officials remained unmoved as they signalled play on.

Cairns was in the thick of the action once more soon after as he pushed away an Ollie Rathbone header. Jimmy Keohane’s cross was met powerfully by the former Manchester United academy player; Cairns somehow stretching to his left to turn the ball behind, but the danger wasn’t gone for Fleetwood. From the resultant corner, Dale took the lead.

Matty Done’s corner ball was perfect for Lund who rose the highest to plant his header just inside the far post for his first goal of the season.

The home side looked on fire and minutes after taking the lead, Lund almost doubled his and his team's tally with a thunderous strike from 22 yards out. The 29-year-old hit a sweet shot that looked destined for the top corner but somehow Cairns tipped the ball away.

Dale were attacking at will with Beesley, Keohane and Beesley all coming close, but they just could not force a second goal.

The only real chance of the first half for Fleetwood came in the last few moments before the break. Paddy Madden found himself with space in the box and as he pulled the trigger only a magnificent block by both McShane and O’Connell denied the visitors an equaliser.

Joey Barton made a change at the half time interval with experienced midfielder Paul Coutts coming on in place of young defender James Hill and the switch around looked like it had paid off. The side from the Fylde coast began to dictate the play much more in the second half but again rarely threatened Bazunu’s goal. Dale had some half chances at the other end; Done saw a free kick clip the top of the crossbar whilst Dooley hit a volley into the ground that bounced narrowly wide.

Fleetwood started to look dangerous as the Dale players began to tire and the lively Barrie McKay set up the equaliser with 12 minutes left. The on-loan Swansea City man broke down the left before picking out Saunders who swept home from inside the area.

Barton’s side had the momentum and went in search of a winner. Mark Duffy’s free kick was spilled by Bazunu in the difficult conditions and when Ched Evans turned the ball towards goal, it took a remarkable clearance off the line by O’Connell to keep the scores level.

With the fourth officials board set to go up to show how much added time there would be, Dale struck late to take the points. Another Matty Lund header was brilliantly tipped away by Cairns but from the resultant corner, Tavares struck.

The corner was only partially cleared and when the ball was worked to Done on the right-hand corner of the area, the full back struck a low shot that Cairns could only parry to Tavares who made no mistake.

It was a deserved victory for Barry-Murphy’s men who have looked to improve game on game and with players still to come back from injury, there’s much positivity coming from the Rochdale camp.


Rochdale: Bazunu, Keohane, O’Connell ©, McShane, Done, Morley, Lund, Dooley, Newby (Tavares 85), Rathbone, Beesley
Subs: (not used) Chalton, McNulty, Hopper, Brierley, Dunne

Fleetwood: Cairns, Burns, Hill (Duffy 62), Boyes, Andrew, Camps, Whelan, Matete (Coutts 46), McKay, Madden (Saunders 63), Evans ©
Subs: (not used) Leutwiler, Stubbs, Garner, Rydel

Referee: Mr J Oldham
Assistants: Mr G Maskell & Mr S Rushton
4th Official: Mr D Gratton

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