Rochdale progressed to the third round of the FA Youth Cup with a 2-1 win over Sheffield United on Tuesday evening.
Goals from Callum Camps and Danny Whitehall ensured victory at Spotland.
Chris Beech’s side enjoyed large spells of possession during the first half and took a deserved lead through Callum Camps on 20 minutes. It was a goal which always looked likely after several half chances and some fine football from the youngsters.
Rochdale were quick out of the traps and after two minutes Andy Cannon had forced goalkeeper George Willis into his first save of the evening with a powerful shot.
Danny Whitehall sent two glancing headers over the bar before proving key in an attack from back to front. Whitehall picked out Joel Logan with a diagonal pass which allowed the young striker to take the ball away from his man and to get the by-line before sending a low ball across the face of goal and into a packed six yard box. Whitehall who had followed Logan’s run could only send it past the upright.
Dale continued on top and found the breakthrough they deserved on 20 minutes. Camps rose above the Blades’ defence and headed home from a cross to give the home side a 1-0 lead.
Two minutes after the goal, the visitors found themselves down to ten men after Chris Salt was shown red for a last man challenge inside the box on Cannon who was clean through on goal. Dale were awarded a penalty as a result and Scott Tanser stepped up to the spot kick. He was denied by substitute goalkeeper Gareth Owen who palmed the ball back into play.
Rochdale were unable to make the extra man count and shortly after the half hour mark Conor Dimaio netted a stunning strike from a short corner to level the match. He curled the ball round goalkeeper Aaron Ashley and in at the back post from 25 yards out.
The Blades finished the half enjoying the better of the possession but failed to test ‘keeper Ashley. And it was Dale who could have doubled their advantage on the stroke of half time from a Tanser free-kick, but he could only watch on as his curling effort went narrowly wide of the upright.
The first fifteen minutes of the second half was a scrappy affair with neither team getting foothold on the game.
Rochdale began to take control of the game for a spell shortly after the hour mark, during which they netted their second of the evening.
With 60 minutes gone Whitehall forced a save from goalkeeper Owen after getting on the end of well controlled ball from Logan who had done well to chest the ball into the path of the forward following a Tanser cross deep into the box.
Four minutes later, Dale came within inches of regaining their lead but despite a ferocious ball across the face of goal from Camps, Dimitri Tuanzebe was unable to get a touch on the cross with his outstretched foot.
Rochdale continued to press and their second of the night came on 69 minutes through Whitehall who got on the end of a cross-come-shot from Cannon. Whitehall fired the ball at the keeper, and while his first effort was kept out by Owen, he made no mistake with the re-bound and propelled Dale into the lead.
Four minutes from time Chris Beech’s side could have had the tie wrapped up but Whitehall’s shot from distance was kicked off the line.
Sheffield United upped their pressure in the closing stages of the game but it was Rochdale who held out for the win.
They’ll face Crewe Alexandra in the third round.