Rochdale’s FA Cup exploits came to an end on Monday, despite a spirited and battling effort against Stoke City.
A wonderful first half volley from Bojan gave Stoke the lead, before Stephen Ireland doubled their advantage early in the second half. Victor Moses showed power and composure to fire home from an acute angle to open up a three goal advantage. Rhys Bennett netted a more than deserved Dale goal late in the game, but any hopes of a dramatic come-back faded as the clock ticked on, and it was the Potters who went on to add to their tally as Jonathan Walters rounded off the scoring in the dying seconds of the match.
Manager Keith Hill named an unchanged side for the second consecutive game as he started with the same team which beat Crawley Town 4-1 last weekend. There was one change on the bench, though, as Joe Bunney came in to replace Febian Brandy.
Dale were excellent in the fourth round tie, but were undone by clinical finishing as the visitors recorded a 4-1 win – a score line which perhaps doesn’t tell the whole tale.
The game was barely four minutes old when the visitors opened the scoring through a sublime Bojan volley. A deep free kick was sent into the box and despite his best efforts, Olly Lancashire could only head the ball up rather than away. This dropped kindly to Bojan on the edge of the area and the former Barcelona man released a sweetly struck dipping volley into the far corner that Messi himself would have been proud of.
Dale responded well over the next 15 minutes, having several attempts on goal, albeit from distance. Firstly, Stephen Dawson raced onto a bouncing ball and looking to hit a dipping effort over Butland in the Stoke goal. He mis-cued his effort however and the ball drifted high and wide. Next, ian Henderson went on a driving run through the middle but under challenge, he skewed his effort wide from the edge of the box.
As the half drew on, Dale began to ramp up the pressure and looked dangerous, but were kept out a resolute Stoke side. A Henderson flick on released Dawson, who showed good strength to get the ball under control. He was unable to squeeze his shot underneath the onrushing Jack Butland.
The best chance of the half fell to Matty Done after he was played through on goal by Callum Camps. The Dale youngster showed great awareness in the centre of the park to pick Out Done's run, but Butland was once again quick off his line, hurrying Done into a shot which he poked narrowly wide of the post.
Done's pace was proving tough for the Stoke back line to handle as he raced onto the end of a Henderson through ball. After getting onto the end of it, he was afforded time to chip Butland as the ‘keeper went to ground, but he was unable to find a way past the Stoke defence, which scrambled the effort out of play.
HALF TIME: Rochdale 0-1 Stoke City
Early in the second half, Stoke doubled their lead through substitute Stephen Ireland. Victor Moses took control of a looping ball in the corner before muscling his way to the byline. His cut back across goal found the run of Ireland, who lashed the ball home from six yards.
Ten minutes later and two became three thanks to another exceptional finish, this time from Victor Moses. Stephen Ireland played a neat first time ball to release Moses in the left and he again raced towards the byline but elected to be selfish this time around. Moses twist and turned to open up some space and then from an acute angle he released a powerful drive across goal and into the top corner.
Dale came close to scoring a screamer of their own after winning a free kick 40 yards out. Scott Tanser laid the set-piece off to Noble-Lazarus, who fired a fierce drive goal-wards. It dipped and grazed the top netting as it went behind for a goal kick.
Dale finally netted the goal they deserved as Bennett poked home from close range from a Tanser set-piece. Any hopes of a late-come back were quashed, though, as Stoke, who had been resolute for the majority of the match stuck to task and repelled a late bombardment of pressure.
And with just seconds of the match remaining the visitors netted a fourth as Jonathan Walters tapped home from close range. Marko Arnautovic had raced onto a ball over the top on the right wing before placing a cross into the path of Walters, who slotted the ball beyond Lillis and into the corner of the net from six yards.
FULL TIME: Rochdale 1-4 Stoke City