Report by Rob Anderson
A first half penalty from Ian Henderson secured three deserved points on Saturday as Dale recorded a 1-0 win over Coventry City at Spotland.
As Rochdale looked to build upon their emphatic midweek win over Walsall, Keith Hill named an unchanged side to face Coventry. The team lined up as Logan; Rafferty; Eastham; O'Connell; Tanser; Hery; Dawson; Allen; Vincenti; Done and Henderson.
Neither team were able to take the game by the scruff of its neck during the opening exchanges as a midfield battle ensured.
As the half wore on however, both sides began to create half chances with the first falling the way of Coventry's Andrew Webster. The ball was pumped into the box from a free kick on the edge of the centre circle to which Webster rose highest to head the ball tamely into Logan's arms.
Nouble was next to try his luck for the visitors after receiving the ball inside the area. Under tremendous pressure from the Rochdale defence he was forced to twist and turn to find space for a shot. When he eventually pulled the trigger, he rifled his effort harmlessly over the crossbar.
Rochdale's first real opportunity came after a Matty Done was quick to close down the Coventry defender on the edge of the area. His challenge knocked the ball out to the left wing which he caught up with before whipping a ball towards the far post. Dawson was waiting, but under challenge from the Sky Blues defence, he couldn't direct his header towards goal.
On the half hour mark, Dale were given the chance to open the scoring from the penalty spot. Ian Henderson won his aerial battle to knock the ball down towards the feet of Done on the edge of the area. Rather than taking the ball on himself, done showed great awareness let the ball run through to Hery who was clean through on goal. Hery took the ball around the Goalkeeper, and as Allsop rushed to recover he clattered into Hery, bringing down the Rochdale midfielder, the referee pointed straight to the spot. Henderson stepped up to take the resulting penalty, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way and smashing the ball into the right hand side of the net.
As the half went into one minute of added time, Rochdale looked to double their lead as first Done and then Hery had efforts blocked by Coventry defenders. The ball was played high across the edge of the box which Vincenti was able to head down into the path of Done. This time he did try his luck on the half volley but his effort was blocked by the on-rushing defender.
As Coventry struggled to clear their lines, the ball came to Hery on the edge Box who looked to drive a shot into the far corner but again, the defence stood tall to block his effort. This time they were able to clear the ball and the referee blew for half time.
HALF TIME: Rochdale 1-0 Coventry City
Jack O'Connell came close to doubling Rochdale's advantage after getting on the end of a corner. The ball was delivered by Scott Tanser, swinging away from the goalkeeper with his left foot and finding its way to O'Connell at the back post. After letting the ball set in front of him he released a volley which bounced across goal but with the keeper beaten, the ball dropped narrowly wide of the post.
Dale looked, once more, came within inches of extending their lead as Henderson saw his effort cleared off the line. Joe Bunney showed good strength to win the ball back off the defender on the right before cutting inside and playing a through ball to Henderson in the box. The through ball met his run perfectly and with his first touch he was able to take the ball around the goalkeeper. Henderson's shot from a narrow angle looked to be rolling into the empty goal but the defender, at full pace, just got back to clear the ball off the goal line.
Despite his lack of involvement in the second half, Conrad Logan remained alert to brilliantly deny Marcus Tudgay. The ball was clipped over the top of the defensive line from midfield and the Coventry forward did well to take the ball down cleanly on his chest. Facing Logan one-on-one he tried to put the ball over the on-rushing goalkeeper but Logan got down and spread himself superbly to deny Tudgay the equaliser.
As the game headed towards its conclusion, Rochdale continually frustrated Coventry in their search for an equaliser, and there was a final substitution as Keith Hill handed a debut to second year scholar Nyal Bell, who came within inches of a fairy tale appearance.
With the game into added time, Dale could have sealed the victory as Ian Henderson lead a quick break from the midfield. He pushed forward with Joe Bunney and Nyal Bell either side of him and opted to spread the ball to Bunney on his right. His first time ball across the box evaded the few remaining defenders and the goalkeeper's reach, but also narrowly avoided the toe poke of Bell at the back post.
FULL TIME: Rochdale 1-0 Coventry City
Man of the Match: Scott Tanser