Rochdale 3 - 3 Swindon Town
Date published: 20 November 2010
Rochdale 3 - 3 Swindon Town
Gary Jones shows what his late equaliser means to him
Rochdale took a share of the spoils after Gary Jones equalised with five minutes left in a pulsating encounter at Spotland.
Keith Hill’s side twice came from behind to take a deserved point with Bobby Grant netting on his debut and captain Gary Jones taking his tally for the season to nine with a brace.
The Rochdale boss shuffled his pack as he reverted back to a more familiar 4-4-2 formation and gave a start to new loan signing from Scunthorpe Bobby Grant ahead of Brian Barry-Murphy.
The game started at a frenetic pace with the visitors taking the lead after just 36 seconds. Matt Ritchie’s stinging drive caught Dale keeper Lillis off guard and the stopper could only parry the effort into the path of Michael Timlin who had the easiest of tasks to slot home for his first goal of the season.
That goal rattled the home side with centre back Morrison going close from a corner, whilst a short back pass caught Lillis out again as the keeper’s clearance ricocheted off Austin but Kennedy cleared.
The visitors were looking threatening but, as the half wore on, Hill’s men started to get a foothold and were handed a lifeline by referee Brown on 20 minutes when he pointed to the spot.
A surging run down the right by Wiseman saw the full back jink into the box but his cross hit the outstretched arm of Jean-Francois and the referee had no hesitation in awarding a spot kick. Captain Gary Jones stepped up to level the game by sending the keeper the wrong way from 12 yards.
That goal buoyed the home side with Gary Jones going close moments later whilst Adams, Dawson and O’Grady all having attempts at Phil Smith’s goal but the half ended 1-1.
The home side started the second period just as Swindon had done the first and forced a corner within the opening 30 seconds. That chance went but Hill’s men looked dangerous.
The game was beginning to become an end to end affair with Dossevi crossing for Austin but the strikers shot was off target whilst Dale’s counters were being snuffed out.
The game livened up around about the hour mark with some crunching challenges with O’Grady, Thompson and Jones feeling the full force of the Swindon defending.
Hill’s men turned the game on its head when they edged in front on 64 minutes. Tom Kennedy lofted a perfectly weighted ball over the Robins defence with Grant the gleeful recipient. The debutant took the ball down before turning Jean-Francois and coolly drilling the ball past Smith to give Dale the lead.
Rochdale were certainly in the ascendency and Scott Wiseman almost doubled the Dale lead when another surging run ended with his shot flashing across the face of goal.
That chance jolted the visitors into action and they turned a one goal deficit into a one goal advantage in the space two minutes.
Firstly, Swindon leading scorer Charlie Austin capitalised on indecisive defending as he smashed the ball off the underside of the crossbar to level the scores with Lillis just a spectator.
The turnaround seemed complete just 120 seconds later when Prutton was upended and full back Michael Rose sent a delightful 25 yard free kick around the home wall and into the bottom right hand corner of Lillis’ goal.
The home fans felt a real sense of injustice after another good performance from Hill’s men but there was to be one last twist. Anthony Elding was sent on with 6 minutes to go and his first touch was to set up Jones for a deserved leveller. A racing run down the right by Elding saw him get the space to cross for the on rushing Jones to angle the ball beyond Smith.
As the clock ticked down, both sides felt they could go on and snatch the winner but in the end a share of the spoils was a fair result in a really great game to watch.
Keith Hill, speaking after the game, said: “I would have accepted a draw before the game because confidence is a key ingredient for success so we just wanted to get back on the points trail.
"We started nervy in the first 20 minutes and it doesn’t help when you concede so early but after that I thought we grew into the game.
"I’m happy with a point but to concede three goals again, even though two of them were quality goals, is disappointing. We can’t keep conceding but I can’t fault the effort or the ambition of the players.
"To salvage something shows the spirit we have got in the camp; it gets us a point on the board. We have got 20 points from 15 games, if we can do that every 15 games then that will see us safe and that’s what we are looking to achieve this season.
"It was difficult to sacrifice Barry-Murphy as he has had a great season but we wanted to play the three players that we could rotate to play off Chris O’Grady and I thought Joe Thompson, Nicky Adam and Bobby Grant were excellent today, but it did leave us exposed at the back.
"We scored three goals though so I suppose it’s getting that balance right.
"I’m a football manager and not a rocket scientist so it’s difficult keeping the lads confidence up is difficult when we keep losing.
"Bobby Grant has got a clever footballing brain but he needs to be match fit. He hasn’t played much football this season, yet his finish was incredible, although the ball over by Tom Kennedy was Premier League quality.
"We need to do a little bit better when we are leading games and we were leading that game today where with a little bit more professionalism, we could have got something more out of that game but I’ll take the point.
"Chris Beech [youth team manager] told me this morning that the youth team drew 3-3 and I said then that I would take that this afternoon against a side that have got pure quality and have got the ambition and capability to get promotion.
"We have got to try and narrow the gap individually to the calibre of players that we are coming up against.”
Rochdale Scorers: Jones 20 (pen) and 85, Grant 64
Swindon Town Scorers: Timlin 1, Austin 78, Rose 80
Rochdale: Lillis, Wiseman, Holness, Dawson, Tom Kennedy, Joe Thompson, Jason Kennedy, Jones(c), Adams (Akpa-Akpro 88), Grant (Elding 84), O'Grady
Subs (not used): Edwards, Widdowson, Josh Thompson, Barry-Murphy, Done,
Swindon Town: Smith, Cuthbert (Sheehan 70), Rose, Douglas (c), Prutton, Timlin (Caddis 57), Morrison, Jean-Francois, Dossevi (Ball 57), Ritchie, Austin
Subs (not used): McGovern, O’Brien, Thompson, Scott
Referee: M Brown
Assistants: K W Haycock and J Hull
Fourth Official: J Hunt
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