Rochdale 1 - 2 Forest Green Rovers
Date published: 18 August 2021
Rochdale are still without a League Two win this season after a narrow defeat in their game against early league leaders Forest Green Rovers at the Crown Oil Arena on Tuesday 17 August. The visitors took the lead against the run of play before half-time after a swift move down the right was finished off by Jamille Matt. Dale levelled early in the second half through Alex Newby but frustratingly the lead lasted less than 60 seconds as Matt Stevens scored his fourth of the season. The visitors’ celebrations were slightly muted after defender Udoka Godwin-Malife was carried from the pitch on a stretcher after a lengthy stoppage due to an injury following an awkward landing.
Dale manager Robbie Stockdale has been given a baptism of fire in his first managerial role as yet more Covid issues meant another player was missing from the squad for this game against Forest Green Rovers. Midfielder George Broadbent was added to the growing list of positive cases within the Dale camp following on from Jim McNulty, Conor Grant and Aidy White’s omission from the squad. It meant that the new gaffer could only name six substitutes as his depleted squad looked for their first win of the season.
As with the game at the Crown Oil Arena on Saturday, Rochdale started the game on the front foot and really took the game to their visitors who couldn’t live with the movement and passing in the early stages. Abraham Odoh, Alex Newby and Corey O’Keeffe were a real handful with the latter setting up Jake Beesley in the second minute with the striker frustrated as his shot was deflected wide through some brave defending.
Jake Beesley added to the managers selection woes when he was forced off after 20 minutes following a collision with Rovers’ keeper Luke McGee. The Dale striker tried to continue but was feeling the effects so was replaced by debutant Josh Andrews.
Morley showed a turn of pace to get in behind the defence midway through the first period to create space for Newby. The winger sent a dangerous cross to the edge of the six-yard box; but nobody in a Dale shirt could get near enough for what would have been a tap in.
For all Dale’s dominance they rarely tested McGee and were made to pay in the 34th minute when Rob Edwards’ side took the lead with their first real foray forward. A quick break saw Matty Done drawn into a challenge midway inside the Dale half that he was never going to reach. It meant Kane Wilson had all the time in the world to pick out Jamille Matt who slotted in his first time shot.
The home side rallied but couldn’t get near enough to the visitors’ goal until stoppage time. Aaron Morley had two opportunities from distance: both flying wide of the mark.
A lively start to the second period started with Forest Green Rovers almost doubling their lead two minutes after the restart. A right-wing corner was headed off the post by Stevens and within seconds Dale went up the other end to equalise. Dooley’s deep cross was headed down by O’Keeffe with Newby running in to lash past McGee but parity wouldn’t last long.
Almost straight from the kick-off, Rovers broke down the left. Nicky Cadden’s cross ricocheted off Max Taylor straight to Stevens who cushioned a volley past Lynch.
Both teams had chances to add to the scoresheet as the second period wore on. Abraham Odoh came very close with a low shot that was tipped onto the post by McGee whilst substitute Andrews used his full 6’ 6” frame to meet an Aaron Morley corner; his header not having enough purchase and it flashed wide.
A wonderful piece of defending from Taylor at the other end denied Matt what looked a simple tap in when he cleared over his bar from inside the six-yard box.
An awkward landing by Godwin-Malife late in the game saw a seven-minute stoppage before the defender left the field on a stretcher to a standing ovation from both sets of supporters and despite nine minutes of added time; Dale couldn’t get a leveller they probably deserved.
Rochdale: Lynch, Graham (Cashman 80), O’Connell ©, Taylor, O’Keeffe, Done, Morley, Dooley, Newby, Odoh, Beesley (Andrews 20)
Substitutes: (not used) Coleman, Keohane, Brierley, Dunne
FGR: McGee, Godwin-Malife (Cargill 90), Sweeney, Bernard, Wilson, Cadden (Allen 90), Hendry, Stevenson, Adams, Matt, Stevens (Aitchison 77)
Substitutes: (not used) Thomas, Edwards, Young, Diallo
Referee: Mr A Haines
Assistants: Mr D Cheosiasu & Mr M Cunliffe
Fourth Official: Mr S Wade
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