Dale reached the final of the Lancashire Senior Cup on Saturday following a penalty shoot-out win over Manchester United reserves.
Chris Beech took a strong Rochdale XI to the Lancashire Senior Cup semi-final game against a young Manchester United side at Moss Lane, Altrincham, and returned to Spotland with a place in the final of the competition after winning 5-3 on penalties. It was after the two teams were tied 0-0 at 90 minutes.
After a relatively slow opening ten minutes, it was Dale who had the first real chance of the game in the eleventh minute through Joe Bunney. Ian Henderson took the ball off the Manchester United left back and worked his way into the box before pulling the ball back for Bunney who’s shot from around 10 yards out was smartly saved by the United goalkeeper.
In the eighteenth minute Ashley Fletcher was just inches away from getting on the end of a lovely cross from the left hand side but fortunately for Dale the ball went out for a goal kick.
Four minutes later Henderson had the United ‘keeper worried when he took possession of the ball on the left hand side of the box but his effort went just wide of the right post.
The remainder of the half ebbed and flowed as neither team were able to get a real hold of the game. Brian Barry-Murphy saw a lot of the ball as he tried to orchestrate the game but the Manchester United players stuck to their task well and finding men in space was proving a difficult task for Dale.
The game woke up a little bit in the final couple of minutes of the first half with Joe Rothwell testing Josh Lillis from long range, before a nervy scramble in the Rochdale box where the Dale defence were struggling to clear their lines but fortunately no one from Manchester United were able to get a clean contact of the ball either.
There was one change for Manchester United before the second half kicked off but Dale remained unchanged.
The second half started with a little more tempo than the first. Henderson was the first to try and open the scoring but he was unfortunately caught offside after a ball over the top from BBM. With 49 minutes on the clock James Hooper then went close for Dale with a curling left footed effort from just outside the box but it went just the wrong side of the left post.
Manchester United started to get a bit of the grip on the game and the Dale defenders had to be at their best to withstand some excellent pressure. James Weir managed to break into the Dale area but his left footed shot went tamely wide of the left hand post. Barely a minute later Dale survived a a penalty shout as it looked like Ashley Fletcher was pulled back just before he got his shot away but the referee didn’t agree and instead gave United a corner which was headed clear by BBM.
In the 60th minute an excellent Manchester United move, which was full of one touch passing, resulted in a player getting free in the Rochdale box but the shot was hit over the bar much to the defences’ relief.
Bunney was the next to go close from either team. A long ball from Lillis evaded the Manchester United defenders but Joe’s volley from just inside the box flashed wide of the right post.
Henderson had arguably the best and last real chance of the game as it approached the 80 minute mark. After some good work by James Hooper on the left the ball came to Henderson about 8 yards out but his side footed effort took a deflection off a defender and went out for a corner, from which Dale failed to force any kind of shot on goal.
With no other action of note and one minute of extra time having been played, the referee blew for full time with the scores at 0-0 and so the match went straight to penalties.
After the obligatory coin toss it was decided that Rochdale would take the first penalty kick, Ian Henderson confidently striding forward with the ball in his hand first up. Henderson smashed the ball into the roof of the net with the keeper diving the wrong way to put Dale 1-0 up.
James Weir took the first penalty for Manchester United but Josh Lillis saved excellently to his right to keep the score at 1-0 to Rochdale. Donal McDermott, James Hooper and Michael Rose all scored from the spot when their chance arose, along with the remaining United candidates. At 4-3 after the fourth round of penalties it was then down to Peter Vincenti to secure the win which he dispatched to the goalkeepers left to put Dale 5-3 up and into the final against local rivals Bury.
Dale XI: Lillis, Cannon, Kisimba, Barry-Murphy, Tanser, Rose, Vincenti, McDermott, Hooper, Bunney, Henderson. Subs: Hasler-Cregg, Lenehan, Coyne, Hollins, Stewart.
Manchester United XI: Pereira, Varela, Borthwick-Jackson, Love, James, Pearson, Rothwell, El Fitouri, Fletcher, Harrop, Weir. Subs: O'Hara, Fosu-Mensah, Willcock, Redmond, Mitchell.