Rochdale completed their pre-season friendly schedule with a 3-1 win over Winsford United at the Barton Stadium on Monday evening.
A double from Godwin Abadaki and one from the Youth Team’s Danny Whitehall ensured Dale went unbeaten during pre-season.
The match at the Barton Stadium was the final of seven pre-season friendlies to take place during the summer and the last encounter to take place before the 2013/14 campaign kicks off this Saturday against Hartlepool.
It was a youthful Dale side who turned out against Winsford, with Manager Keith Hill giving players including Reece Gray, D’acry O’Conner and Scott Tanser the opportunity to get another 90 minutes of game time under their belt ahead of the new season. Two trialists were also handed a start – Zac Doolan-Aley and Formose Mendy.
In another positive, Rhys Bennett was named amongst the starting eleven which marked his first game since the knee injury he sustained in March. Bennett managed to complete a full 90 minutes.
The match was played out on an uneven surface, made difficult with long grass. The Dale players appeared to struggle to settle into the game as they were unable to play the sort of fast, free flowing type of football that Hill and his staff have come to expect from them during pre-season. They were hindered by the stop start nature of the game in what was physical encounter.
With that in mind, it was a relatively quiet first half from Rochdale, but despite a lack of goal mouth action from either side, they teams went into the interval tied at 1-1.
Opportunities during the half had been limited, with Joel Logan’s effort on three minutes which clipped the side netting, and Aley’s deflected shot which went up and over the bar on 12 minutes, the most notable of the chances from Dale.
Winsford United’s Lee Constantine had come closest for the homeside after sending a shot across the face of goal and past the upright shortly before the half hour.
But despite clear cut opportunities being at a premium, two goals within 60 seconds saw the teams take a 1-1 scoreline into the break.
Abadaki opened the scoring on 40 minutes as he rifled an effort into the back of the net, but Winsford responded almost immediately through one of their five trialits who sent a looping header into the top corner of the net after latching onto the end of a ball over the top.
HT: Winsford United 1-1 Rochdale
The second half saw a much improved Dale performance and the side went on to net a further two goals to ensure victory.
It was a much more entertaining 45 minutes and within two minutes of the re-start, Logan sent an effort just past the post.
Three minutes later and an unnamed Winsford trialist tried to lob goalkeeper Robbie Thomson after going through one on one with the Scots youngster, but he could only lift it up and over the bar.
On 52 minutes, ‘keeper Andy Jones did well to get down to his post to push away a Reece Gray free-kick, while yet another unnamed trialist from the home side saw another effort go narrowly past the upright after doing well win the ball and taking on the Dale defence.
Shortly after the hour mark, some good link up passing between Gray, Abadaki and Aley saw the trio open up the play to find the space needed to send another effort in on goal. Aley’s final strike went wide of the target.
Three Dale substitutions then took place in quick succession with Mendy, Bunney and Logan making way for youth team trio Andy Cannon, Danny Whitehall and Connor Martin.
They were inspired substitutions and changed the dynamics of the game, with the midfield looking more effective.
And just three minutes after the introduction of Whitehll and Martin, Abadaki netted Dale’s second of the evening. He powerfully struck the ball past ‘keeper Jones to bag his double.
Cannon, who was a much needed breath of fresh air after coming on, sent a shot over the bar on 77 minutes, before winning the free-kick which resulted in Dale’s third and final goal six minutes later.
The 17-year-old did well to win the ball back in midfield before being hacked back. Aley stepped up to take the resulting free-kick, which was knocked on by Tanser and hit home by fellow youth team member Whitehall.
It finished Winsford United 1, Rochdale 3.