Grant goal not enough to earn a point
Bobby Grant’s penalty was in vein as Rochdale secured a narrow 2-1 over Fleetwood Town at Crown Oil Arena.
Uwe Rosler made one change to the team that drew 2-2 with Chalton Athletic at Highbury last week, with Victor Nirennold replacing midfielder Jimmy Ryan.
The first real chance of the game fell to the hosts, a long punt up field by goalkeeper Josh Lillis was seized upon by Ian Henderson after some hesitant defending from Nathan Pond. The Dale captain tried to chip Chris Neal but his effort was inches wide.
Rochdale kept the pressure on and they were rewarded for their efforts on the 10th minute. A deep cross from the left hand side courtesy of the right boot of Donal McDermott was powerfully headed home by the towering Matthew Lund.
The home side continued to dominate proceedings until the 22nd minute. A lovely thorough ball from David Ball set Chris Long on his way into the penalty area; however a clumsy challenge from Harrison McGahey brought down the on loan Burnley attacker and the referee had no option but to award a penalty.
Up stepped Grant to dispatch the spot kick, despite Lillis getting a hand to his effort.
However the Fleetwood goal did not kill the confidence of the home side as they continued to assault Chris Neal’s goal. A clever turn and shot from McDermott has Neal scrambling across his goal line after the striker’s original shot took a slight deflection.
With five minutes of the first half remaining a flash of brilliance from Long nearly gave Fleetwood the lead. An individual run split the shell-shocked defence apart from Lillis in the Dale goal who was more than alert to keep the shot out, meaning the sides went into the break level.
Both sides cancelled each other out for the majority of the opening periods of the half, with the best effort for Town being a David Ball free kick. The strike, from about 25 yards, was comfortably saved by Lillis.
With 15 minutes of the game remaining, Keith Hill’s side had a chance to win it. A looping header into the box by Joe Bunney was met on the volley by Henderson who was only five yards out but he blasted his effort over.
The hosts’ pressure eventually paid off on the 86th minute. A cross from the left hand side from Bunney was not dealt with by Neal in the Fleetwood net and the ball was met on the head by Davies to head Dale into the lead once again.
The proved to be the match winner despite the best efforts of Ball and Long in the final stages.
RAFC: Josh Lillis, Jimmy McNulty, Harrison McGahey, Peter Vincenti, Matthew Lund, Callum Camps, Donal McDermott, Joe Thompson, Keith Keane, Joe Bunney, Ian Henderson. Subs: Conrad Logan (GK), Steven Davies, Brian Barry-Murphy, Aaron Morley, Sanmi Odelusi, Andrew Hollins.
FTFC: Chris Neal, Conor McLaughlin, Amari’i Bell, Ashley Eastham, Nathan Pond, David Ball, Bobby Grant, Victor Nirennold, Chris Long, Kyle Dempsey, Devante Cole. Subs: Alex Cairns (GK), Eggert Jonsson, Cian Bolger, Michael Duckworth, Ashley Hunter, Martyn Woolford, Alex Jakubiak.