Rochdale booked their place in the Northern area quarter finals of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy on Tuesday night with a historic and well deserved win over Port Vale.
The 1-0 victory, thanks to a first half goal from Joe Rafferty, was enough to seal Dale’s first ever at win Vale Park in a game which which was controlled by a dominant Rochdale.
Manager Keith Hill made the maximum number of allowed changes for the game - Jamie Allen was handed first team debut, while Graham Cummins was has handed his first start since joining on loan from Preston North End. There was also a place in the side for Joe Rafferty, Bastien Hery and Peter Vincenti. Scott Hogan, Matty Done and Joe Bunney moved to the bench, while Rhys Bennett and Matty Lund didn’t feature in the squad.
Dale started the game in a positive fashion as they put a line under Saturday’s defeat at Fratton Park, and after some patient build up play they had their first effort on goal with five minutes played.
Debutant Allen, who was a stand-out performer in his midfield role, controlled the ball on his chest around 20 yards from goal before firing a volley, which was deflected out for a corner.
From the resulting corner ball, Peter Vincenti managed to get a glancing header on it, but could only send it away across the face of goal and to the back post. In the end a chance failed to materialise.
Dale looked hungry, well organised and were first to every ball, leaving Port Vale looking second best during the half.
Port Vale’s best chance of the half came on 22 minutes from a free-kick which was delivered to the back post. Tom Pope was the player at the stick, but he unable to get enough height to head the ball the ball past Josh Lillis.
Immediately up the other end and Dale re-gained full control, this time Allen fed a delightful ball to Cummins to send him through on goal, but he could only look on as it crept narrowly past the wrong side of the post.
Less than sixty seconds later, Cummins got a glancing header on the ball, but again he sent it off target.
On the half hour mark, Dale came forward once again, and despite finding himself through one on one with the ‘keeper Chris Neal after beating the offside trap, Cummins opted to cut backwards and look for the pass, and in the end the chance was gone.
And on 39 minutes Dale finally found the opening goal that they deserved through Joe Rafferty. He met a Rose cross on the edge of the six yard box and headed it up and over Neal to bag his first ever goal.
GOAL: PORT VALE 0-1 ROCHDALE
Rochdale played out the rest of the half on top and took the lead into the break.
HT: PORT VALE 0-1 ROCHDALE
Port Vale showed more in the second half, without causing too much trouble for Lillis as Dale dealt with the livelier Valiants and looked comfortable in doing so as they continued to nullify the home side’s play.
Shortly after the re-start Pope should have done better from close range at the near post as he blasted over the bar, while on the hour mark Ben Williamson managed to somehow turn and get a shot away inside the area. Lancashire was there to get a block in and it went out for a corner, which was also dealt with.
Two minutes later, Port Vale broke on the counter attack after Allen was unable to find a Dale shirt after getting to the by-line. The Rochdale defence did manage to track back, but Pope was eventually able to get a shot away, which was comfortably saved by Lillis.
While Port Vale huffed and puffed, they were not a match for Dale and the visitors had their own opportunities as the game progressed.
On 76 minutes, substitute Scott Hogan latched onto a ball down the flank from Rafferty, and he powered down the right hand side of play, but he was unable to get a final shot away as Neal came racing out to make a timely challenge.
Ten minutes later, great vision from Rafferty saw the young full back pick out Cummins, who held the ball up well before laying it off to Vincenti. Vincenti’s final effort was weak and it was easily collected by Neal.
On 88 minutes, Vale’s Loft should have done better as he fired over the bar from nine yards. It was the last real chance of the game for either side and Dale saw out the match to book their place in the area quarter finals.
It finished Port Vale 0, Rochdale 1.