Rochdale 3 (Le Fondre 22 pen, Buckley 56, Higginbotham 87) Accrington 1 (Cavanagh 23) - Full Time Report

Date published: 03 January 2009

Rochdale got back to winning ways in an entertaining encounter with Accrington Stanley. The visitors could feel aggrieved not have gotten more from the game after playing some entertaining football but Dale profited from superior fitness and better finishing.

Goals from Will Buckley and Kallum Higginbotham saw Dale emerge victorious after the break to boost the home side back into the League Two play-off positions.

The sides went into the break level after an eventful first half at Spotland. Dale took the lead when Will Buckley skipped into the box and was tripped. Adam Le Fondre converted from the penalty spot.

Dale’s lead lasted less than a minute as Robert Grant was felled on the edge of the box and Peter Cavanagh hit the back of the net with the free kick via a deflection in the wall.

Dale made a sluggish start and they should have been to pay when a low a cross from the right found its way through to Robert Grant all alone at the back post. Sam Russell made himself look big but it did not excuse the winger’s poor finish, slicing the ball into the side netting.

The visitors did not let up the early pressure and Paul Mullin drew the best out of Russell as he rose to nod John Miles’ corner towards a bottom corner; the Dale keeper was at full stretch to intervene.

Eventually Dale got out of the traps and they took the lead without breaking much of a sweat. Will Buckley danced past three half-hearted Accrington tackles into the box and was sent sprawling by Chris King. Adam Le Fondre put the spot kick into the top corner.

From the re-start Accrington hit back. Grant emulated Buckley and ran out the heart of the Dale backline. Rory McArdle took it upon himself to reduce the Accrington winger, earning a yellow card in the process and the visitors a free kick on the edge of the box. Peter Cavanagh’s strike flicked the top of the wall to take the ball away from Russell and into the far corner.

Both sides survived further penalty shouts before the break as the ball bounced up and hit King on the arm inside the Accrington box and then McArdle appeared to haul back John Miles at the other end.

Dale could have led at the break when Clark Keltie turned and put in a wonderful cross for Le Fondre, who chested the ball into space but his finish was deflected over the top.

Dale’s start to the second half was much more convincing and Lee McEvilly brought a fine stop from Dunbavin after the former Accrington striker linked with Le Fondre to create space for a well struck low shot.

Accrington responded with chances of their own. Scott Wiseman got Rochdale out of jail with a superb last ditch tackle and then King’s low centre across the six yard box evaded both Paul Mullin and Chris Turner by inches. Another penalty shout followed, for a push on Grant, before Dale took the lead against the run of play.

Adam Rundle found space on the Dale left and fired in a low cross to find the perfectly timed run of Buckley, who fired into the bottom corner.

Dale searched for a third as the game opened up and Buckley was once again ruthlessly scythed down while in full flight. Kieran Charnock was booked for the challenge and Dale had a free kick in the same position from which McEvilly found the net against Shrewsbury on Boxing Day. A similar run up from fully ten yards and low finish ensued but Dunbavin was equal to the shot.

Accrington probed for the equaliser but Dale had the best chance to rubber stamp the win. A better pass from Buckley, as he and Le Fondre went two on one with the last defender, would surely have seen the home side extend their lead. As it was the winger sent the striker too far wide, and Le Fondre’s eventual cross was cleared.

Buckley was forever the thorn in the Accrington side and at times he took the visitors apart singlehanded. He almost doubled his tally after a neat one two with Kallum Higginbotham put the 18-year old clear but he could not quite lift the ball over Dunbavin, who made a fine save.

Eventually Dale made sure and although the ultimately a third was harsh on Accrington, the home side had looked the more likely to score in the last fifteen minutes. Higginbotham hit the third, capping a fine cameo performance with a low finish beyond Dunbavin.

Attendance: 3126.

Rochdale: Russell, Wiseman, Kennedy, Stanton, McArdle, Rundle, Toner, Keltie, Buckley, McEvilly (Dagnall 60), Le Fondre (Higginbotham 75).
Subs (not used): Jones, Ramsden, Spencer.

Booked: McArdle, McEvilly.

Accrington: Dunbavin, Cavanagh, King, Proctor, Miles, Mullin, Grant, Edwards, Ryan, Turner (Smith 83), Charnock.
Subs (not used): Speare, Murdock, Bell, Arthur.

Booked: Proctor, Charnock.

Attempts (on target): Rochdale 12 (6) Accrington 7 (3)
Free kicks: Rochdale 17 Accrington 24
Offside: Rochdale 8 Accrington 6
Corners: Rochdale 7 Accrington 3

Referee: C Webster

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