Rochdale 1 - 1 Bradford
Date published: 31 July 2010
Rochdale 1 - 1 Bradford
Jean Louis Akpa-Akpro
Rochdale ended their pre-season fixtures with a 1-1 draw in a thoroughly entertaining game at Spotland after Chris O’Grady netted the equaliser and moments later missed a penalty.
Keith Hill named an almost full strength starting 11 for this afternoon’s game against Peter Taylor’s Bradford City.
Alan Goodall, who was this week offered a contract by the Dale boss, deputised at centre back for the rested Craig Dawson whilst new signing Anthony Elding wasn’t eligible after his registration documents hadn’t arrived from the Hungarian FA following his move from Ferencvaros this week.
The game was played at a medium tempo throughout with both teams getting the ball down on the perfect Spotland surface, but neither side really getting on top in the opening 10 minutes.
The first attempt at goal was from the visitors when former Liverpool trainee Robbie Threlfall let loose a thunderous left footed drive that brought the best out of Josh Lillis in the Dale goal.
Not to be out done, the master of spectacular goals, Jason Kennedy, tried his luck from distance but the Bantams keeper was comfortably behind the effort.
In front of a small crowd, Keith Hill and Dave Flitcroft could be easily heard barking out orders to their players and the passing and movement was there for all to see.
The full backs, Scott Wiseman and Joe Widdowson, were pressing on at every opportunity with Wiseman carving an opening on 26 minutes. After skipping away from two challenges he found Joe Thompson free in the box but the striker wasn’t allowed the time to get his shot away and the danger was snuffed out.
Kennedy again tried his luck from distance with McLaughlin scurrying to parry the ball wide low down to his right.
Widdowson tried his luck at getting to the by-line before pulling a perfect ball back but O’Grady couldn’t quite control.
One of Keith Hill’s new signing’s, Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro had been relatively quiet up until the half hour mark when he sprung into life firstly picking up in midfield before firing over and then latching onto a Widdowson left wing cross but heading tamely into the keepers hands.
A raking 50 yard cross field pass by Scott Wiseman wasn’t collected by Akpa-Akpro but that didn’t halt the former Grimsby man who raced after the ball, turned and rolled a pass to Thompson whose effort was gathered at the second attempt by the Bantams stopper.
As the half drew to a close, Akpa-Akpro showed the home faithful just what they can expect from him after controlling a Wiseman cross, turning and firing towards goal but his effort was blocked.
Hill kept the same 11 for the start of the second half and his side almost broke the deadlock within 60 seconds of the re-start. Captain Gary Jones lofted a deep cross into the box with Akpa-Akpro controlling on his chest but again finding his shot blocked.
All the play was with the home side with Akpa-Akpro at the heart of everything, firstly jinking his way past three men, but his shot didn’t match the build up, and then using his pace to outstrip the visiting defence before crossing a ball that just evaded Thompson and found Widdowson, but his former Grimsby team mate fired horribly over.
Gary Jones was the next to try his luck after bursting through but his first time effort was wide.
With the home side well on top and looking like scoring at any given moment the deadlock was broken but surprisingly it was the visitors against the run of play. A perfectly weighted through ball by Scott Neilson found sub Louis Moult who took one touch to control before firing a low drive across goal and inside of Josh Lillis’ far post to make it 1-0.
Hill’s men responded well to going behind and they almost got back on level terms within a minute. Thompson crossed from the left with full back Widdowson popping up at the near post but his effort was somehow scrambled against the woodwork and then away from danger.
Nine minutes after going behind Dale were level.
Akpa-Akpro crossed for Thompson but his effort was well blocked. The ball fell to O’Grady inside the 18 yard box, he took his time before stroking home to level.
O’Grady then had the opportunity to give Rochdale the lead from the spot after Akpa-Akpro was upended by Moult inside the box but his tame effort from 12 yards was easily saved by McLaughlin.
The tempo of the game eased as we entered the final 20 minutes with both teams making changes. Hill replaced Widdowson, who seemed to be complaining of a slight strain with Matt Done who today signed a 6 month deal at Spotland after impressing whilst on trial and O’Grady was replaced by Jack Redshaw.
The rest of the game was played out at a slow pace with both teams taking shots from distance with neither keeper tested until the last minute when Tom Adeyemi created space with a smart turn and shot which was expertly tipped over by Lillis.
It was a good workout for Hill’s men ahead of their assault on League One, when Hartlepool visit Spotland next Saturday.
The Dale gaffer was in a buoyant mood when he spoke after the game: “Pre-season has gone superb, I couldn’t have asked for any more. It’s gone according to plan but pre-season is over now so it’s preparation for Hartlepool this week, it’s going to be a good week.
"The lads know what we need to do to fine tune and it’s all about that preparation now and putting it into action in the league, and if we do then it should all work.
"I’m not too sure whether many teams will come to Rochdale and defend like we have witnessed today, but Peter Taylor has had a lot of success over his management career setting up like that, nicking goals and winning football matches.
It was a great education for us today, we purposefully left ourselves open and vulnerable in wide areas of the pitch; I wanted to see if we could withstand any pressure in the full back areas of the pitch - which we haven’t really seen as we have defended so well.
I thought it was decent, although it seemed like a lacklustre practice match, but I am really pleased with the way the players worked.
"We were missing Anthony Elding as he wasn’t eligible and Craig Dawson is talking to Inter Milan* at this very moment in time (*said with a huge grin on his face, actual reason he was being rested after feeling a slight niggle in his groin).
"I certainly hope Anthony [Elding] will be available to me next week against Hartlepool.
I’m really excited about the prospect of this week, the Hartlepool game is just around the corner, the lads are in good shape, good spirits they have got a good fitness base and it’s about now stepping over that white line and holding their nerve and expressing what myself and Flicker [Dave Flitcroft] want from the players.
"I’d like some new faces but we are missing out all the time. I would have liked to have recruited the like of Ryan McGivern, for example, but for some strange reason Manchester City allowed him to go to Walsall instead of Rochdale who are on his doorstep."
Rochdale: Lillis, Wiseman, Widdowson, Holness, Goodall, Barry-Murphy, Kennedy, Jones (c), Akpa Akpro, O'Grady, Thompson. Subs: Edwards, Done, Flynn, André, Redshaw.
Bradford: McLaughlin, Threlfall, Ramsden (c), Rehman, Daley, Evans, Neilson, O'Brien, Adeyemi, Bullock, Oliver.
Subs: Hunt, Harrison, Speight, Duff, Elliott, Moult.
Referee: Mr N Swarbrick.
Assistant Referees: Mr G Hilton & Mr M Salisbury.
Fourth Official: Mr A Scragg.
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