A Connor Cowan-Thompson header gave Rochdale Youth the all-important three points against Wrexham on Tuesday afternoon.
In a pretty un-eventful match, Rick Ashcroft’s men had to use their defensive capabilities and were pushed all the way, before eventually picking up the three points.
The first-half lacked any real chances of note, with Dale having most of the play, but failing to do much with it.
Half-chances from Callum Schorah, Dominic Reid and Brandon Smalley could have broken the deadlock, but in all fairness both sides cancelled themselves out in the first fourty five minutes.
Wrexham had the first chance to go in front as early on as the second minutes but Reynolds shot was never going to be powerful enough to beat the keeper.
Ashcroft’s men bounced back from this early scare and enjoyed the majority of the play.
Forward Reid could have put Rochdale ahead after just four minutes, as an acrobatic volley from a left wing cross was saved well by the away side’s goalkeeper.
Dale didn’t dwell on this and just thirty seconds later, Wrexham’s number one Reece Airey had to be alert again as Schorah sent a strong volley towards goal, only to be thwarted on the loan by the aforementioned shot stopper.
Bell once again used his pace and power to break through the Wrexham defence on the quarter hour mark, unfortunately his twenty five yard shot was dragged well wide of goal and the scores stayed level.
There was little action to comment on shots wise in the next thirty five minutes. The biggest talking point instead came from the referee with a minute to go before half-time.
Dale earned themselves a free-kick in a promising position in Wrexham’s final third. To the bemusement of Ashcroft and his backroom staff, the free-kick was over turned and the Welsh side burst onto the attack. 'Keeper Reece Lovett rushed out of his area to tackle Joe Williams, in the process missing the ball and fouling the player. Luckily for Rochdale, a yellow was given and both sides went in for their half-time team talk with eleven men on the field.
Half-time: ROCHDALE YOUTH 0-0 WREXHAM YOUTH
Wrexham started the second-half as the better side and really should have opened the scoring with the first attack straight from the kick-off.
The away side won a corner and a well worked routine led to captain Iwan Cartwright bursting into the box. The midfielder sent a shot at goal and it was only because of Kisimba’s intervention on the goal line that the scores stayed level.
Two shots from Wrexham’s forward line were well saved by Lovett and going into the hour-mark, Dale’s opponents were the better side.
After all this however, it was Dale who took the lead on the sixty sixth minute. As Cowan-Thompson scored completely against the run of play.
A deep corner from Hasler-Cregg, was flicked on by the centre-back and after a slight deflection the ball just about crossed the line to put Rochdale in the lead.
Cowan-Thompson’s goal calmed Dale down and composure returned to the side’s midfield. At 1-0 the game was still in the balance with fifteen minutes to go, Dale should have killed the match off.
A Hasler-Cregg corner fell to the goal scorer and un-marked on the penalty spot, Cowan-Thompson volleyed over the bar when it looked easier to score.
Wrexham brought on substitute Jordan Davies, Davies nearly put Wrexham ahead with his first touch of the game as from twenty five yards out a deflected shot clipped the cross bar and went out for a corner.
Defender Yomi Samuels nearly scored a contender for goal of the season with ten minutes to go as he spotted Wrexham’s goalkeeper off his line and fired a shot at goal from fourty five yards out that just went wide of the post.
Wrexham’s substitutes gave them extra impetus going into the final minutes of the game but Dale held on and picked up a huge victory as the run in towards the end of the season continues.
Full-time: ROCHDALE YOUTH 1-0 WREXHAM YOUTH
DALE XI: Lovett (GK) Samuels, Schorah, Kisimba, Sinclair, Cowan-Thompson, Smalley, Hasler-Cregg (c) Pratt, Reid, Bell.
UNUSED SUBS: Evans, Berry, Hollins, Prescott, Diba.
WREXHAM XI: Airey (GK) Phillips, Harvey-Davies, Duran, Simpson, Hammons, Davies, Cartwright (c) Williams, Reynolds, Newton.
UNUSED SUBS: Whitlock, Jennings.
REPORT BY JAMES BURCH.