Football: Rochdale 3 - 3 Peterborough
Date published: 21 March 2021
Crown Oil Arena
Rochdale were denied an unexpected three points in their game against Peterborough on Saturday 20 March when the visitors scored a penalty in the 93rd minute to earn a share of the spoils.
2-0 down from the first half, Brian Barry-Murphy’s side roared back with three second half goals to lead heading into stoppage time but when substitute Aaron Morley tripped Nathan Thompson inside the box, prolific goal scorer Jonson Clarke-Harris notched his 24th goal of the season with the game ending 3-3.
Dale welcomed Jake Beesley back to the starting line up after the striker had missed the last thirteen games through injury. Ryan McLaughlin missed out through a slight injury picked up in training this week. That meant Jimmy Keohane reverted to right wing back, Matty Done to left wing back with Beesley up front alongside Stephen Humphrys.
Peterborough arrived at the Crown Oil Arena knowing victory could push them level on points with league leaders Hull City and they got off to the perfect start with a goal inside five minutes. Siriki Dembele drove past Ollie Rathbone before striking an unstoppable shot from 20 yards into the top right hand corner.
It looked ominous for the home side and when Dembele was well placed for a shot after being teed up by Clarke-Harris, there was a sigh of relief when the ball flew over.
Dale had a few half chances but never seriously tested Christy Pym in the Peterborough goal. Conor Grant scuffed a shot wide whilst Humphrys’ acrobatic scissor kick flashed just wide of the post. Anything that the home side got on target lacked any power with Pym comfortably holding.
As the half entered first half stoppage time, Peterborough doubled their lead. Jimmy Keohane was caught in possession on the near touchline which allowed Dembele the space to play in Sammie Szmodics. Szmodics beat two Dale defenders inside the area before clipping the ball past Bazunu to make it 2-0 to the visitors.
Dale needed a response early in the second half and thought they had got it eight minutes after the re-start. Jake Beesley went down under a challenge from behind with referee David Rock un-moved as he awarded a free-kick for simulation although replays showed Beesley was caught.
Two minutes later and Mr Rock had no alternative to point to the spot when Beesley was brought down by Mark Beevers. Stephen Humphrys stepped up to send the keeper the wrong way to make it 2-1.
The second half was played at a frantic pace but with little goalmouth action until the closing stages. The closest either side came was when Dembele was denied what looked a sure-fire goal but for a brilliant one handed save from Bazunu. That save would prove crucial as the game neared its conclusion.
Matty Done was thrown into the strike force as Dale chased a result and it was his clipped cross that found Jake Beesley who powered a header that managed to squeeze in at the near post despite Pym’s best efforts.
A point after being two down at the break would have been welcomed but better was to come for Brian Barry-Murphy’s side. Aaron Morley, a late substitution for Conor Grant, played a brilliant diagonal pass to Jimmy Keohane. The wing back’s header was across goal and as Beesley was about to pounce, a defender got there first but diverted the ball back to Keohane who slammed the ball into the roof of the net from close range.
The celebrations of the Dale fans would have been something to remember had they been allowed inside the stadium having seen their side come from two down to lead 3-2 in stoppage time, but heartbreak was just around the corner.
A ball into the Dale box deep into stoppage time was brought down by Morley and as he tried to clear, Nathan Thompson nipped in and was caught by the Dale substitute with a penalty to Peterborough quickly awarded. Clarke-Harris rolled the ball into the net sending Bazunu the wrong way.
A point against a promotion contender would normally be viewed as a great point, especially having been behind at the break although the circumstances surrounding the equaliser will have Dale fans thinking 'what if?'.
Brian Barry-Murphy’s side have almost two weeks off now as they have four players out on International duty so it’s fingers crossed results elsewhere go in Dale's favour before their next game, which is away at Portsmouth on Good Friday (2 April).
Rochdale: Bazunu, O’Connell ©, McShane, Osho, Keohane, Done, Rathbone, Shaughnessy, Grant (Morley 83), Beesley, Humphrys (Baah 62)
Substitutes: (not used) Lynch, McNulty, Dooley, Roberts, Newby
Peterborough: Pym, Kent, Thompson, Beevers ©, Butler, Ward (Kanu 61), Brown, Hamilton, Dembele, Szmodics (Eisa 61), Clarke-Harris
Substitutes: (not used) Gyollai, Reed, Jones, Blake-Tracy, Mason
Referee: Mr D Rock
Assistants: Mr A Dallison & Mr S Plane
Fourth Official: Mr B Speedie
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