Rochdale’s preparations for the forthcoming season continued with another victory on Tuesday night as Matty Done netted a hat-trick in a 3-0 victory over Stalybridge Celtic at Bower Fold.
The win means Dale are yet to be beaten following previous wins over Northwich Victoria and FC Halifax Town.
Four trialists were handed a start – Robbie Thomson continued in net, while Javal Vidal again appeared at right back. Lois Maynard was given his second run out and partnered fellow trialist Formose Mendy in the centre of defence. Scott Tanser made up the back line.
It was a youthful line up for Rochdale with D’arcy O’Connor making his first appearance of the pre-season schedule and the likes of Jamie Allen, Joel Logan, Reece Gray and Godwin Abadaki all being given the nod at Bower Fold. Matty Done was impressive as he added the experience to the young side.
It was another hot evening with temperatures again hitting the high teens, but the conditions didn’t seem to hamper the attitude or the commitment of the players on the pitch.
It was a game where Dale looked comfortable from kick-off and didn’t look in any danger of conceding, while at the same time failed to truly test the opposition in the first half.
Opportunities in front of goal were at a premium for both sides, although Scott Tanser came closest to opening the scoring when his cross-come-shot forced Stalybridge goalkeeper Joe Smith into a finger-tip save to send it onto the post on 13 minutes.
Obi Anoruo was the one creating the most for the home side and shortly after the half hour mark he should have done better as he sent a shot past the post. Less than a minute later there were claims for a penalty as he was felled inside the area, but the referee was quick to wave play on.
On 38 minutes Anoruo was again involved in the action, this time he forced Thomson to react quickly at his near post to send the ball round the upright after sending a close rage effort in on goal.
Just three minutes later and Dale went ahead through a Done penalty. The 24-year-old was brought down inside the area and stepped up to take the resulting spot kick. He made no mistake in make the most of the opportunity from 12 yards.
HT: Stalybridge Celtic 0-1 Rochdale
Manager Keith Hill again refrained from a mass substitution scenario at the interval and like Saturday he made no changes for the start of the second half.
After the break Dale had a much more uptempo feel about them and after looking more lively in front of goal, Done bagged his and Rochdale’s second of the night after latching onto the end of a ball over the top.
Shortly before the hour mark, the first of several substitutions were made as Tanser and Maynard made way for the Youth Team’s Shaquille Antoine-Clarke, and Bastien Hery. There was some positional changing involved after the substitution - Antoine-Clarke went in at left-back, while O’Connor moved from midfield into his usual position of centre half, allowing Hery to join Allen in the centre of midfield.
On 68 minutes there was another change as Mendy this time was substituted and Brian Barry Murphy made a rare appearance at centre-half.
As the game continued, Dale never looked likely to concede but a third goal was always a possibility as the players seemed to find another gear for the remainder of the game.
On 78 minutes Allen fired over the bar, before Logan sent a menacing ball across the face of goal just a minute later. Despite plenty of Dale shirts in the box and outstretching legs, no-one was able to convert.
With minutes of the match remaining, Stalybridge’s Andy McWilliams took the defence and ‘keeper by surprise as he sent a cross-come-shot, very similar to that of Tanser in the first half, in on goal. It rolled along the bar and back into play.
But it was Rochdale who would have the final say in the match as Done bagged his hat-trick on 88 minutes with a delightful free kick from 25 yards.
It finished Stalybridge Celtic 0, Rochdale 3.