Football: Doncaster 1 - 0 Rochdale
Date published: 20 January 2021
Dale manager Brian Barry-Murphy
Rochdale’s unbeaten start to 2021 ended with a narrow defeat at promotion chasing Doncaster last night (Tuesday 19 January). Jon Taylor’s goal midway through the first half was enough to earn the points for Doncaster in a game that created very few chances. Matty Lund and Ollie Rathbone both fired wide for Dale in the first half, whilst Stephen Humphrys was disappointed when his close range header was well off target.
After goalfests in the previous three games since the turn of the year, this game always looked like it was going to be a tight affair with two teams that like to play a passing game and that proved to be the case.
With Jim McNulty suspended after receiving a red card on Saturday and injuries to Eoghan O’Connell and Paul McShane, Brian Barry-Murphy was forced into using midfielder Aaron Morley in central defence whilst Ryan McLaughlin and Stephen Dooley were also given starts.
Doncaster came into the game fourth in the league table and looking to close the gap on rivals Lincoln who started the day in top spot six points ahead but with Doncaster having two games in hand.
Having scored 21 goals but conceded 20 in the last eight games, Doncaster were well aware of Dale’s goal threat and doubled up on the likes of Kwadwo Baah whenever he got the ball but a quick counter attack by Humphrys set the Dale youngster away on the right. With only the goal on his mind, Baah cut back onto his favoured right foot; his attempt at goal well blocked by Tom Anderson.
The visitors were having plenty of the ball in their opponent’s half; Ollie Rathbone's shot went just wide of the mark with Ellery Balcombe seemingly beaten in the Rovers goal.
Humphrys' power and pace caused issues for the hosts and his bustling run from the halfway line 15 minutes in had Doncaster on the back foot again. His pass out to Dooley saw the Irishman send in a dangerous cross from the left which was headed clear but only to Baah. The former Crystal Palace youngster was quickly closed down meaning his shot was blocked by Butler with the follow up by Lund going narrowly wide of the right hand post.
Doncaster hadn’t seriously threatened Gavin Bazunu’s goal but their first opportunity saw them take the lead. On loan Manchester City midfielder Matt Smith sent a diagonal ball towards the back post which was headed down by Brad Halliday up from the full back position. Taylor Richards’ clever touch to his left set up Jon Taylor to sweep home from close range.
The only other chance before the break fell to Elliot Simoes; the on loan Barnsley man hit a powerful shot which Bazunu beat away.
The second half was a non-event with both sides cancelling each other out although Dale came to life in the latter stages and time added on at the end of the 90 minutes and it was no surprise to see it was Baah that created the chances.
Baah was felled wide on the left which gave a great angle for Morley to deliver; his free-kick perfect for Humphrys who got too much on his header and the ball flew over.
As the clock ticked down, Baah danced his way into the area but once again his goal bound shot was bravely defended by veteran Andy Butler whilst another passage of play saw Baah unceremoniously dumped to the ground just outside the area. Humphrys stepped up but his set piece crashed through the wall with Dooley unable to provide the finishing touch.
In the end there was plenty to be positive about with a depleted squad but they need to start getting points on the board with some tough fixtures coming up against sides in and around the bottom of League One.
Rochdale: Bazunu, McLaughlin, Morley, Roberts, Keohane, Lund, Dooley, Baah, Rathbone ©, Beesley (Newby 54), Humphrys
Substitutes: (not used) Lynch, Done, Tavares, Hopper, Brierley, Dunne
Doncaster: Balcombe, Halliday, Anderson ©, Butler, John, Taylor (Lokilo 62), Richards (Williams 62), Simoes (Amos 89), Smith, Greaves, Okenabirhie (Wright 90)
Substitutes: (not used) Jones, Horton, Blythe
Referee: Mr S Stockbridge
Assistants: Mr G Mellor & Mr W Grunnill
Fourth Official: Mr T Bramall
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