A second half goal from Matty Lund in Saturday's match against Oxford United secured Rochdale’s first point on the road as the game at the Kassam Stadium ended in a score draw.
The U's opened the scoring through James Constable on 24 minutes, but Lund ensured a deserved point for Dale with a flying header five minutes after the interval.
Manager Keith Hill made three changes to the starting eleven for the match against the U’s. Rhys Bennett made his first competitive start since the injury that side lined him back in March, George Donnelly, who missed last weekend’s match against Plymouth Argyle due to paternity leave, went straight back in into the line-up, and Brian Barry Murphy was also given the nod. They replaced Joe Rafferty and Andrew Tutte who dropped out of the squad altogether, and Matty Done was named on the bench.
It was a game of two halves at the Kassam Stadium, and while the home side created the better of the opportunities in the first half, Rochdale were on top for the majority of the second half.
The home side applied early pressure on the Dale goal, and on five minutes, Josh Lillis was called into action as he was forced to palm away and effort from Andy Whing who eventually got a shot away from the first corner of the game.
Three minutes later, James Constable found the feet of David Kitson with a short pass on the edge of the area, he turned and fired a shot over the bar.
While the home side had applied the early pressure, Dale’s Ian Henderson came closest to opening the scoring on ten minutes. After a slick passing movement forward, he picked the ball up around 25 yards from goal and fired a shot goalwards. It was agonisingly close for Rochdale, as the ball scuffed the side netting on its way past the wrong side of the upright.
Shortly afterwards, Oxford’s Constable also found the side netting – he picked up the ball with his back to goal after a Danny Rose corner had come to nothing and fired a shot goalwards from an angle.
The U’s who had been threatening, went on to open the scoring on 24 minutes. David Hunt delivered a deep cross into the area, it was headed back by Asa Hall into the path of Rose and Lillis pulled off a fantastic reaction save to save deny him, but could do nothing to keep out Constable who fired follow up effort into the roof of the net from close range.
GOAL: OXFORD 1-0 ROCHDALE (Constable, 24 mins)
Rochdale reacted in a positive fashion after the goal and there was an urgency about their play for a spell, but despite some great football on display, they were unable to find a breakthrough.
Shortly after the half hour, Donnelly went it alone after receiving the ball on the half way line from Michael Rose. He turned and twisted past several Oxford players, and after ending up with his back to goal, he turned and sent a left footed shot in on goal from 20 yards, forcing 'keeper Ryan Clarke to get down low and save.
It was a rare opportunity for Dale during the first half, and despite being on top for a short spell, it was Oxford who continued to apply the pressure, without causing too much trouble for ‘keeper Lillis.
HT: OXFORD UNITED 1-0 ROCHDALE
There were no changes at the interval as Manager Keith Hill stayed as was for the start of the second half.
The teams were evenly matched during the opening period, but it was during this time that Dale netted the equaliser through a flying header from Matty Lund.
Bennett got forward to the by-line and sent a cross into the area which was met by the head of Lund at the back post. He got power behind the header and smashed into the back of the net.
GOAL: OXFORD UNITED 1-1 ROCHDALE
Rochdale appeared to up the tempo and it was a much improved second half showing from Dale, with some great one touch football on display.
Dale were asking the majority of the questions as they pinned Oxford into their own half for large spells, but both teams had opportunities to go on and win the game.
On 78 minutes, Whing fed the ball to substitute Tyrone Marsh which sent him through one on one with Lillis. The ‘keeper blocked his shot, while a follow up effort from Constable was hooked off the line by Olly Lancashire.
Despite the scare, Rochdale continued in the same vein as seen during the half, but were unable to find a second, despite running the Oxford defence ragged at times.
In stoppage time, substitute Bennett whipped a ball into the area, and substitute Matty Done came agonisingly close to connecting with it with a diving header but came just short.
It finished Oxford United 1, Rochdale 1.