Alistair Linden's take on Dale's victory over FC Dordrecht...
Dale Academy Triumph in 1st ever European Game.
Dordrecht FC U17 1 v 4 Rochdale Academy
After 4 days of hard preparation the Rochdale Academy players turned in a massively impressive performance against a talented Dordrecht team running out worthy 4-1 winners.
The game was played in Dordrecht’s neat little stadium which last year hosted the likes of Ajax, Feyenoord and PSV in the Dutch Eredivisie.
The game started badly for Dale as Matty Gillanm had to be substituted after 30 seconds when he caught the ball full in the face whilst challenging a Dordrecht player. Team physio Adam Brown took no risks and told Head Coach Rick Ashcroft to replace the dazed Gillam. He was replaced by Jordan Prescott.
The enforced change did not seem to affect Dale and they flew into the attack creating 3 good chances in the opening 10 minutes. The assault continued like this for the rest of the half. In quick succession Jack Stewart, Kisimba Kisimba and Japhet Mata all rained shots in on the Dordrecht goal.
During the opening 25 minutes Dale keeper Reece Bills, kindly loaned to Dale by Wolves for the match was a mere spectator, as the back 4 snuffed out any Dordrecht attacks before they threatened. In fact Reece created the first clear cut chance by releasing a quick ball to Mata who played in Kisimba who shot only to see the ball hit the bar.
Throughout this first half Mata posed a constant threat with his searing pace that was breaking through Dordrecht lines and terrifying their defenders.
Finally on 25 minutes Dale got the goal their play had deserved. Once again Dale broke down a Dordrecht attack on the half way line and a quick through ball from Scorah to Jack Stewart on the right hand side of the box saw him dummy the full back and drive a shot in of the keepers right post.
4 minutes later Callum Scorah won the ball on the left played it to Kisimba who returned it in to Scorah who had continued his run into the box and his square ball found Mata who tapped in for goal number 2.
On 37 minutes the impressive Kisimba found Jordan Prescott who fired in number 3. Throughout the first half Dale’s midfield had dominated the game with Jack Lenihan patrolling in front of a very assured Louis Coyne and Declan Evans.
Kieron Price started the 2nd half for Callum Scorah who needed a deserved rest. The second half was to prove a harder game for Dale as Dordrecht upped their game and became more physical. Chances still fell Dales way as Harry Pratt and Japhet Mata were pulled up several times with close off side calls and Pratt went close with a header. Dordrecht finally had a shot on target 2 minutes into the 2nd half.
Coach Ashcroft substituted Andrew Hollins and Aaron Morley for Jack Stewart and Louis Coyne. The pattern of the game did not change as these lads slotted into a smooth machine. Mata continued to raid down the right ably supported by Rapheal Chea.
Finally on 58 minutes a lapse in concentration at the back allowed Dordrecht to score. It was however a false dawn as Dale continued to assault the hosts goal incessantly. 2 further substitutions followed seeing Harry Pratt and Jack Lenihan being replaced by the rested Callum Scorah and Tyler Berry.
The final goal came in the 78th minute when Kisimba intercepted the ball in midfield passed to Prescott who lobbed the advancing keeper from 18 yards.
With the game finally secured Rochdale basked in the late evening sunshine and reflected on a job well done. It seems unfair to choose a Man of the Match when all players excelled but for his perpetual attacking flair Japhet Mata gets the nod.
A big thank to FC Dordrecht who were magnificent hosts and have provided a great memory for the lads. A big thank, as well to Rochdale ex-pat Ian Wolfenden who drove down from Amsterdam to cheer on Rick and his team.