Ten man Fleetwood Town dug in to grind out a point at Rochdale, as both sides played out a 1-1 draw.
The Cod Army took the lead towards the end of the first half courtesy of a glancing header from this season’s top goal scorer Paddy Madden.
The game changed ten minutes after the break. Lewie Coyle was sent off after the break for a tackle on Joe Rafferty. A harsh decision which is certain to be appealed by the club.
Rochdale took advantage of the extra man, with Ian Henderson nodding home from close range with 15 minutes to play.
It was a scrappy opening five minutes to the match, both Rochdale and Fleetwood struggling to get the ball down on the slippery surface at Spotland, but you could see that the two wanted to get the ball on the deck, and get on the front foot.
Ash Eastham took a knock to the face from Dale striker Calvin Andrew, but the vice-captain was cleaned up and sent back out alongside his skipper, Craig Morgan.
Town played a short free-kick inside their own half, and after a neat one two between Ross Wallace and Coyle, the full back broke forward. The ball found Madden inside the penalty area, with the Irishman then laying it off to Jason Holt – whose shot on goal was deflected away for a corner.
Keith Hill’s side thought they had taken the lead moments later. Matthew Done worked the ball well on the left, pulled it back to Andrew who shot, and with the rebound coming back to Henderson, you’d expect the striker to hit the target, in fact his effort went well wide of Alex Cairns’ goal.
Joey Barton’s side once again found space down the right hand side after superb movement from the front three. This time Madden found Ashley Nadesan in between the full-back, and with his well cushioned pass, he was able to find Wes Burns, who somehow skied his effort from close range. How didn’t that go in!
Town started to grow in the match and with their chances in front of goal, and this time after patient build-up play, Coyle drifted in on his left foot to strike one at goal. This time Josh Lillis got down to make a comfortable save.
The man on-loan from Leeds United thought he had his first goal of the season with a lovely curling effort from outside the box. From our angle it looked like it was going well wide, but it hit the post with Lillis scrambling across his goal line. Surely it was only a matter of time before the Cod Army found the back of the net!
Madden scored the opening goal of the match and his 16th of the season with a well timed glancing header from Ross Wallace’s in swinging cross. A goal that Town thoroughly deserved for their attacking play in the first half.
Rochdale came out in the second half and brought on 16-year-old Luke Matheson for Done, a substitution that seemed to please a few in the stands. The young right back did get a chance from 20-yards out, but his half volley went well over the bar.
Coyle saw red after what was a strong but fair challenge on Rafferty. The referee took his time with his decision which looked to anger the home dugout.
With Fleetwood down to ten men, Rochdale picked up the tempo and after a great run down the left flank, Rory Holden got on the end of Hamilton pass, only to see his first time strike go narrowly wide of the post. 60 seconds later, Hamilton then worked the ball well onto his left foot, and for the consecutive time, the ball sailed wide.
Cross after cross! That was the instructions from the Dale dugout and it paid off when Henderson – who hadn’t been involved much until the goal – found the back of the net from a Dooley cross on the right hand side. The ball was weighted perfectly for the forward, with Cairns left with no chance between the sticks.
Cairns saved Town with under ten minutes to go with a fingertip touch on the ball from Henderson’s shot. The Englishman drifted in off the left and went away looking to celebrate with the home fans behind the goal, but as said previously, Cairns denied him!
Rochdale XI: Lillis (GK), Rafferty, McNulty, Ebanks-Landell, Dooley (Inman 90’), Andrew, Camps, Done (Matheson 46’), Holden, Hamilton, Henderson ©.
Subs not used: Delaney, Williams, Wilbraham, Norman, Adshead.
Town XI: Cairns (GK), Coyle, Holt, Eastham, Burns, Madden (Hunter 90’), Morgan ©, R. Wallace (Biggins 65’), Nadesan (Sheron 57’), Husband, J. Wallace.
Subs not used: Jones (GK), McAleny, Hill, Rydel.
Attendance: 2,713 (205 away)