Rochdale 0-0 Town
By David Mitchell
Fleetwood Town withstood constant Rochdale pressure to take a point away from a goal-less draw at Spotland and extend their unbeaten away record to seven games.
Dale will ultimately rue missed opportunities notable a second half penalty by Ashley Grimes which Davies turned on to a post. Town played the last 27 minutes with ten men following Alex Marrow’s sending-off for two yellow cards.
Curtis Obeng made his Town debut in place of suspended Junior Brown, the only change to the team who started on Tuesday in the win at Chesterfield. Dale’s side featured former Highbury players Peter Cavanagh and George Donnelly.
Rochdale began the game brightly. There was an early moment of concern for Town after five minutes as Scott Davies, complete with cap against the strong sun, slipped on the edge of his area but Youl Mawéné was on hand to help out as Bobby Grant looked to capitalise. Five minutes later, Town’s defence came under further pressure down the left, Davies happy to collect the loose ball with Grant in attendance.
Lee Fowler stemmed the flow with a shot from distance after 14 minutes, hit straight at Josh Lillis. Town created their best opportunity soon after with Obeng supplying a cross from the right in the 17th
minute for Steven Gillespie to set-up Tom Barkhuizen. Dale’s defence cleared the danger.
Ashley Grimes and Jason Kennedy combined on the edge of the area after 21 minutes but Town had strength in numbers. Cavanagh was the game’s first booking in the 25th
minute, bringing down Barkhuizen as the Town player raced upfield. Rochdale tested Davies again two minutes later, Grant forcing an error with a powerful shot and Donnelly fired over. At the other end, Jamie McGuire put Lillis under pressure with a right-foot shot, the keeper parried and Gillespie slid a header from the rebound wide of the left-hand post.
After 35 minutes Obeng , who was looking comfortable on the ball, found space down the right and floated a cross over to McGuire whose header looped over. The game was entertaining the 2372 crowd with action at both ends. Grant had another opportunity but struck the ball narrowly wide of the post and Rochdale will have left the field at half time frustrated at an inability to convert their chances.
Rochdale forfeited a guilt-edged chance just three minutes after the break. Dean Howell put himself under pressure, bringing down Grant in the area. Ashley Grimes spot kick, to Davies’s left, was turned on to the post by the Town keeper. Rochdale applied the early second half pressure and Town’s defence were kept busy. Alex Marrow upended Grant in the 53rd
minute for his fourth booking of the season. Donnelly fired narrowly wide off his left foot before Micky Mellon made his first change, former Spotland player, David Ball, replacing Gillespie after 58 minutes.
Town’s backs were even further against the wall after 63 minutes. Andrew Tutte was brought down by Marrow, the Town midfielder shown a second yellow followed by red by referee Brown. Rochdale surged forward, backed by a home crowd that Dale manager John Coleman has been eager to win over this season. Davies raced out of his area under pressure from Donnelly, the loose ball running out of danger. The experience of Barry Nicholson was introduced after 69 minutes with Barkhuizen coming off.
Town nearly exploited a Rhys Bennett foul in the 73rd
minute. The tall defender brought down Ball and Howell’s free kick went close to Lillis’s left post. Soon after, a second challenge near the dug-outs earned a yellow card for the tall defender. Obeng created his first opportunity for his new club, jinking past two defenders before hitting a left-foot shot at Lillis. Ball turned past two defenders on the right and aimed a chip in Nicholson’s direction as Town dug deep. Obeng was booked for a clumsy challenge. Rochdale struck several chances high and wide and Town took the point.
TEAM: Davies, McLaughlin, Mawéné, Edwards, Howell, Obeng, Marrow, Fowler, McGuire (capt), Barkhuizen, Gillespie (Ball 58)
Booking: Marrow, Obeng
Sent off: Marrow