Rochdale ran out deserved 1-0 winners over Chester FC at the Lookers Vauxhall Stadium on Tuesday night, with Ian Henderson’s late dink over the ‘keeper proving to be the only goal of the game.
The Conference side were a real test for Dale in what was an entertaining fixture. The game had a greater tempo compared with Sunday’s friendly at AFC Fylde and Dale played the match with an urgency.
Two minutes into the game James Hooper was in on goal, but he was charged down by ‘keeper Jon Wornsop, who smashed away a clearance.
Eight minutes later and the home-side had one of their few opportunities of the half. Ross Hannah had spotted Josh Lillis off his line and attempted to lob him from distance but could only drag his shot well wide of the target.
Despite the speculative effort, Dale were dominating and were enjoying plenty of time on the ball, while creating numerous chances.
During a three minute period, Billy Hasler-Cregg and Callum Camps had opportunities, while Lewis Alessandra had a goal ruled out.
Hasler-Cregg worked his way in at the near post and his shot was smothered by the ‘keeper, before Camps rifled an effort over the bar from 30-yards. Alessandra had the ball in the back of the net in the 16th minute after latching onto the end of flick on from a corner ball. He smashed his volley beyond Worsnop, but he was flagged for off-side.
Dale continued on top and around the half hour mark they bombarded the Exiles goal once more, but were kept out by the in-form goalkeeper. Joe Rafferty was firstly kept out by an excellent save as his dipping effort from just outside of the area was tipped over the bar. Sixty seconds later and Worsnop was called into action again as he punched a Rose effort over the bar, before Camps, who sent a shot down the throat of the ‘keeper, saw his effort punch away.
Keith Hill’s side would have been worthy of taking a lead into the interval, but it was the home-side who came closest to breaking the dead-lock in the dying seconds of the half as only the woodwork stood between Hannah and the opener.
He had beaten Lillis after chipping the ‘keeper, but was denied by the cross-bar.
HT: Chester FC 0-0 Rochdale
It was all change from Dale at the break as the first half eleven made way for the second half eleven.
Despite the changes, the players started the game in the same manner that their team-mates had shown during the first 45 minutes, and sixty seconds after the re-start Reuben Noble-Lazarus was denied by an excellent save after unleashing an effort from close range.
Dale were in charge and were giving the home-side no time on the ball. They were creating all of the opportunities and applying all of the pressure, but were unable to break the deadlock.
For a second time in the game, Rochdale had a goal ruled out when Peter Vincenti was flagged for offside in the 57th minute. He finished on the angle at the near post after getting on the end of an Ian Henderson ball over the top.
Henderson curled an effort over the cross-bar moments later. It was aimed for the top corner of the net but there was just too much height on it.
In the 68th minute Chester had their first real opportunity of the half. Scott Tanser was beaten in the air by Tom Peers on the flank and travelled at pace towards the by-line before delivering for George Thomson, who sent an effort at Johny Diba from close range. The young ‘keeper did well to get down low and pounced on the dangerous ball.
As the half continued, Chester began to grow into the game and caused problems for Dale.
In the 77th minute there was an important block from the Dale defence as they kept out an effort, which looked destined for the back of the net.
Four minutes later and the home-side were denied by the woodwork for a second time. Richards, who had rounded Diba, could only watch on his strike came back off the post.
Dale had survived the scare and went on to net the goal they deserved with seven minutes of the game remaining. Henderson picked the ball up on the halfway line, before running at goal. He dinked the ‘keeper from distance after spotting him off his line.
In the remaining minutes, Calvin Andrew came close to doubling Dale’s advantage but he glanced his header from a corner ball past the post.
It finished Chester FC 0, Rochdale 1.
FIRST HALF: Lillis, Rafferty, Kisimba, BBM, Rose, Lund, Camps, McDermott, Hooper, Hasler-Cregg, Alessandra
SECOND HALF: Diba, Cannon, Lancashire, Kennedy, Tanser, Allen, RNL, Bunney, Vincenti, Henderson, Andrew