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Rochdale 2-1 Blackburn Rovers: Report

21 July 2015

An Ian Henderson brace gave Dale their second pre-season friendly win, with a 2-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers at Spotland.
Lee Williamson gave the visitors the lead with a low shot from distance, before Ian Henderson levelled with a cool finish just after the half hour mark. Henderson scored his second and the winning goal with an easy tap-in seven minutes from time.
Dale lined up in a 4-5-1 formation with Josh Lillis in goal and a back four of Andy Cannon, Oliver Lancashire, Jimmy McNulty and Scott Tanser. Matty Lund was the deepest midfield, with Jamie Allen and Peter Vincenti ahead of him. Donal McDermott and Joe Bunney were wide with Henderson up top.
Keith Hill’s side made the brighter start with Allen causing problems early on, and Henderson striking the foot of the post in the sixth minute. McDermott slipped the Dale striker in and his turn and shot with his left foot came back off the upright before being cleared.
Blackburn began to assert their authority on the game and Ben Marshall tested Lillis with a good free kick, before they took the lead in the 19th minute after a Dale mistake.
McNulty gave the ball away in the middle of the park to Williamson, who drove forward and struck a low and hard effort past Lillis from just outside the area.
Dale stuck at their game though and Henderson had a couple of decent chances to level. A stooping header from a Tanser cross was straight at Raya, whilst he couldn’t quite get a superb Allen ball under control before lifting it over the crossbar.
Those two incidents sandwiched a superb goal line clearance from Lund. John O’Sullivan looked offside as he was played through but the flag stayed down. He rounded Lillis and poked one goalwards, only for Lund to flick a leg backwards and turn the ball round the post.
Dale were rewarded for their high pressing game in the 32nd minute as they drew level through last season’s top scorer Henderson. Allen, who was running the game in the first 45 minutes, intercepted a slack ball and turned into acres of space. He carried forward before slipping a perfectly weighted pass into Henderson who finished calmly with the outside of his right foot.
One apiece was probably a fair reflection of the first half’s play, although the visitors had chances to go in ahead at the break through O’Sullivan, who came closest when he shifted the ball past Lund on the edge of the area and fired a shot straight back off the upright.
There were no changes for Dale at the break and they had the first chance of the second period through another Henderson header. McDermott did well down the right to cross to the back post where Henderson found space, but his header lacked power and was comfortable for Raya.
Eight minutes into the second half and Dale were forced into a change, with Lund limping off after picking up a slight knock. Callum Camps came on to replace him, allowing Allen to drop into the deeper holding role.
Just five minutes after coming on, Camps tested Raya from outside the area with a crisp shot which the stopper managed to turn around the post.
Lewis Alessandra and Calvin Andrew came on for McDermott and Vincenti with twenty minutes remaning.
Andrew saw a header from a corner fly over the bar just two minutes after coming on, whilst Craig Conway had an effort deflected just over the bar for the visitors. 
Reuben Noble-Lazarus came on for Bunney with fifteen minutes remaining, whilst Rovers changed nine of their team to ironic cheers from the Dale fans in the Main Stand.
Noble-Lazarus would have a great impact on the game as he set up Dale’s winner with seven minutes remaining. Camps found his fellow substitute in the left channel, and he took a touch before playing the ball across for Henderson, who had the simple task of turning it into the empty net.
Dale were able to see the game out comfortably, with no real threat coming from Blackburn’s many changes, in what Keith Hill will have seen as a successful 90 minutes, both in terms of scoreline and preparations for the season ahead.

Dale XI: Lillis, Cannon, Lancashire (Captain), McNulty, Tanser, Allen, Lund (Camps 53), Vincenti (Andrew 70), McDermott (Alessandra 70), Bunney (Noble-Lazarus 76), Henderson.
Unused subs: Diba, Rafferty, Rose, Kennedy, Hooper.

Blackburn XI: Raya, Henley, Duffy, Hanley (Captain), Lowe, Mahoney, Marshall, Williamson, Olsson, Conway, O’Sullivan.
Subs: Fisher, Tomlinson, Carlson, Thompson, Preston, Cham, Wall.

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