Football: Lincoln 1 - 2 Rochdale

Date published: 14 March 2021

Rochdale AFC moved off the bottom of Sky Bet League One with a deserved, if not unexpected, victory at high flying Lincoln City on Saturday (13 March).

A dominant display from Brian Barry-Murphy’s side saw goals either side of half-time from Ollie Rathbone and Stephen Humphrys earn Dale a first win in ten matches. The margin could have been greater had the visitors taken their other chances or had referee Antony Coggins awarded a penalty when Humphrys was upended inside the area; even the Lincoln manager admitting he was surprised a penalty was not given.

Boosted by the return from suspension of influential midfielder Ollie Rathbone, Barry-Murphy made just one change from the midweek defeat to Shrewsbury; Hayden Roberts dropping to the bench to accommodate Rathbone’s return.

Lincoln came into the game knowing victory would send them back into second place and into the automatic promotion spots but from the first whistle, any neutral watching the game on TV would have been surprised by which team was pushing for promotion and which team was battling relegation.

Dale had a succession of early corners and almost took the lead inside five minutes but for a brilliant reflex save from Alex Palmer in the Lincoln net. Conor Shaughnessy, who is yet to score a professional goal, was denied by Palmer when his goal bound header was pushed away; Paul McShane on the follow up, unable to get a clean connection.

Lincoln rarely threatened the Dale back line and when they did it was down to mistakes from the visitors. Another Dale corner was too close to Palmer who comfortably caught the in-swinging ball and quickly bowled out to set his side on an attack. The ball caught in the wind and got away from Morgan Rogers but Dale’s Ryan McLaughlin missed the ball which set the on loan Manchester City winger away. With Dale rushing back to defend, Gavin Bazunu was quickly out slide bravely at the feet of Callum Morton as the striker was played in.

Dale were quickly back on the front foot and again earning a number of corners. Done’s delivery again caused problems with Gabriel Osho heading at goal, which was stopped by a defender, Jimmy Keohane’s follow up was punched away by Palmer with Humphrys throwing himself towards the ball.

The visitors could have had the game wrapped before the interval with chances not taken. Eoghan O’Connell’s header from six yards out was another opportunity missed that could have cost his side as his effort was simple for Palmer.

A slip by Osho whilst trying to clear saw Brennan Johnson steal in before pulling back to the brilliantly named Conor McGrandles; his shot hitting his own player in Morton on its way to goal.

That was about all the hone side could muster in the first half and soon after, Dale took the lead through the returning Rathbone.

Shaughnessy’s long throw came out to Rathbone on the edge of the area and after shifting the ball onto his left foot, he created space to fire a low shot into the bottom right-hand corner of Palmer’s net. That goal ended a spell of 717 minutes without Dale scoring and the relief was evident as the players rushed over to celebrate with the management team.

It almost got better for Brian Barry-Murphy’s side. A sweeping ball up field from Rathbone set Matty Done away down the left. His perfectly timed ball into the area found the onrushing Humphrys with the striker agonisingly close to doubling the advantage under pressure from the defence with his shot grazing the outside of the right-hand post.

Having only won one game in seventeen, a one goal advantage meant it was still going to be a nervous second forty-five minutes unless Dale could extend their advantage and they almost did early in the second period.

Humphrys was denied by a fingertip save from Palmer after good work from Done whilst Osho was left frustrated when his powerful header was cleared off the line by McGrandles with Palmer beaten.

Rochdale should have been awarded a penalty in the 58th minute. Humphrys did well on the right to get into the box and as he pushed the ball past Tayo Edun, the midfielder clumsily brought down the Dale man although referee Antony Coggins was unmoved; much to the amazement of the LNER Stadium pressbox.

That decision could have had damaging consequences as less than two minutes later, Lincoln levelled. A well worked move of the edge of the Rochdale penalty area saw on loan Morgan Rogers fire a spectacular shot into the top right corner beating his Manchester City team-mate Gavin Bazunu.

Bazunu tipped over Brennan Johnson’s long range shot just after Humphrys had seen another chance go begging when he fired wide, but the Dale frontman would get his name on the score-sheet with sixteen minutes left.

A defensive header fell at the feet of Humphrys who still had plenty to do as he shifted the ball from one foot to another to evade four Lincoln players. He created enough space to squeeze his shot in off the right upright for his ninth Dale goal of the season.

The remainder of the game was seen out without too much goalmouth action with Dale deservedly taking maximum points to move within two points from safety with eleven games left to play.


Rochdale: Bazunu, O’Connell ©, McShane, Osho, McLaughlin, Keohane, Grant (Morley 67), Rathbone, Shaughnessy, Done (Dooley 90), Humphrys
Substitutes: (not used) Lynch, McNulty, Newby, Baah, Roberts

Lincoln: Palmer, Poole, Montsma, Jackson ©, Bramall (Scully 46), Edun, Jones, McGrandles, Rogers (Hopper 79), Johnson, Morton
Substitutes: (not used) Long, Archibald, Eyoma, Bridcutt, Roughan

Referee: Mr A Coggins
Assistants: Mr G Fyvie & Mr G Russell
Fourth Official: Mr I Smedley

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