A stoppage time goal from Jason Kennedy ensured Dale extended their unbeaten run to six on Saturday as Keith Hill’s side drew 2-2 with promotion hopefuls Port Vale in an entertaining encounter at Spotland.
An own goal from Liam Chilvers saw Dale deservedly open the scoring on the half mark, but the lead was short-lived as the visitors levelled just four minutes later. Daniel Jones thought he had secured an invaluable three points for Micky Adams’ side in their quest for promotion, but Jason Kennedy headed home a more than deserved equaliser in stoppage time to secure a point.
Rochdale went into the match following Wednesday night’s 4-2 win over Southend United and Manger Keith Hill named an unchanged eleven for the match against the Valiants.
It was a fiery and high tempo encounter with end to end action which in turn made for a top notch atmosphere inside Spotland. While the bumper crowd was reminiscent of a derby day, the players on the pitch were certainly letting each other know they were in for a game as tackles and fouls were flavour of the day during the opening period.
With free-kicks aplenty, the two teams were unable to get a grip of the game during the first quarter of an hour due to the stop start nature during the initial spell.
As the match began to settle, the visitors applied the pressure on the Dale goal and it was evident the defence were in for a busy afternoon, but Vale’s towering front line had little joy as the back four stood strong to deal with any threat that came there way.
Rochdale on the otherhand always looked a handful for the Valiants and on 13 minutes Ashley Grimes had the first opportunity of the half. He got on the end of the ball on the edge of the area following a corner, and sent a low drive goalwards. ‘Keeper Chris Neal had to get down at his near post to keep the frontman out.
Shortly before the half hour mark a long ball forward from Vale almost caught Josh Lillis out as Lee Hughes got on the end of it inside the area. He attempted to lob the goalkeeper, who had come off his line, but instead sent it into the top netting.
And it was from this goal-kick that Dale went on to open the scoring thanks to a defensive mix up from the visitors. Lillis had sent a long ball forward, and with Grimes close on his heels, Liam Chilvers tried to nod the ball back to his keeper who was off his line, but it ended up in the back of the net to give Dale a one goal advantage.
The lead was short lived however and Port Vale levelled the scoring just four minutes later. The divisions leading goalscorer, Tom Pope, headed home from six yards after getting on the end of a cross from Adam Yates.
After their goal, Vale rallied and the Dale defence were forced to dig deep as they were put under pressure by the visitors.
On 38 minutes, the Valiants came close to adding a second as a menacing low ball flew in across the six yard box. Pope was on the prowl but there was just too much on it and the ball went flashing past the upright.
A minute later and this time Lillis was called in action to pull off a fantastic save to deny Jennison Myrie-Williams. Myrie-Williams sent a curling effort, which looked destined for the top corner of the net, in on goal but Lillis dived to his left to get two hands behind it and send it out of play.
On the stroke of half time Rose had a free-kick blocked as it made its way towards goal, and Donnelly could only head into the hands of Neal with the follow up.
HT: ROCHDALE 1-1 PORT VALE
After the interval Rochdale started the half the brighter of the two and had the better of the opportunities.
Grant and Donnelly both had efforts collected by Neal, before the ‘keeper almost gifted Dale a second. On 56 minutes he attempted to clear the ball but instead hit the head of the Ian Henderson who was just inside the area. The ball bounced back towards an open goal but much to Neal’s relief and the amazement of the fans inside the ground, it went past the post.
Opportunities for Port Vale were at a premium as the Dale defence did their job to keep the Valiant’s frontline at bay.
With the visitors unable to find a break through Myrie-Williams sent powerful long range effort in on goal on the hour mark, but it flew past the upright.
Five minutes later following a corner ball, Pope came within inches of turning the ball into the net at the far post following a Hughes flick on, but he couldn’t get there in time to steer it into the net as if flashed across the face of goal.
Manager Keith Hill made a double substitution after the goal with Terry Gornell and Callum Camps replacing George Donnelly and Ashley Grimes respectively. The fresh legs paid dividends as Rochdale continued to dominate and apply the pressure on the Vale defence who looked uncomfortable with the pacey football on show.
Dale’s best opportunity of the half fell for Kennedy on 82 minutes but he blasted over the bar. Rose fired an initial effort from 35-yards but it deflected off the head of Kennedy and fell perfectly for Grant out on the right hand side of play. He sent in a dangerous cross and after Louis Dodds missed his clearance, Kennedy hit over the woodwork.
Despite Rochdale having the better of the chances throughout the match, it looked like Port Vale would move one step closer to promotion as they netted on 89 minutes to steal a 2-1 lead through Daniel Jones.
But the match wasn’t over yet and Dale netted a deserved equaliser deep in stoppage time.
Youngster Joel Logan was then introduced onto the field of play shortly after Port Vale’s goal and his inclusion again sparked life into the match as the 18-year old showed no fear and it was from his initial move to free the ball that Dale secured a point from the match.
He sent the ball out to Rose who delivered from the right for Kennedy who sent a glancing header wide of ‘keeper Neal.
It finished Rochdale 2, Port Vale 2.