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Rochdale 2-2 Swindon Town: Report

30 April 2016

Dale came from two goals down to earn a draw against Swindon Town in the final home game of 2015-16 campaign.

First-half goals from Jon Obika and Nathan Thompson gave the visitors a two goal advantage before Jamie Allen pulled one back just before half-time. Matthew Lund equalised in the second half but Dale couldn’t grab a winner, despite dominating for the majority of the second half. 
The Robins finished the game with ten men after Louis Thompson and Brandon Ottewill were given their marching orders in the second half. 
There were three changes for Dale after last week’s game at Port Vale, with Ian Henderson, Andy Cannon and Niall Canavan entering the starting line-up.
Swindon opened the scoring in just the second minute with the first attack of the game. Brandon Ottewill broke through the Dale midfield and slid a through-ball into Obika, who slotted the ball calmly past Josh Lillis from 12 yards.
In the seventh minute Dale probably should have equalised. Donal McDermott played a great ball over the top of the Swindon defence for Nathan Mendez-Laing, but after rounding the keeper the forward found himself at too narrow an angle to shoot, and ultimately couldn’t find the decisive pass for a teammate.
Almost instantly Swindon had another chance. Full-back James Brophy found some space on the edge of the box, but his accurate pass into the box was wasted by Obika, whose shot flew over the bar from just ten yards.
Rochdale had a penalty in the 16th minute. Swindon right-back Nathan Thompson fouled Ian Henderson after a poor touch while attempting to bring the ball out. Henderson himself stepped up to take the spot kick, but his shot was saved well by Will Henry after diving low to his left.
Henderson had another chance to get on the scoresheet in the 22nd minute. Jamie Allen swung a cross to the back post from the right, but an unmarked Henderson didn’t get enough contact on his header and saw it go wide of the near post.
Dale had a massive chance to level the score just before the half-hour mark. Allen played a brilliant pass to split the Swindon defence down the right and Mendez-Laing squared it to the back post to meet Joe Bunney. Bunney was just two yards out but Henry managed to get down low again to his right to make another brilliant save.
In the 36th minute Anton Rogers went close with a brilliant curling free-kick from 25 yards. If not for a great save from an outstretched Lillis it would have been 2-0 to the visitors.
Two minutes later and Dale had another chance. Some wonderful trickery from McDermott brought up some space for Mendez-Laing inside the box to the right. He flashed the ball across the six yard box but it was just out of the reach of his on-running teammates.
And again, just a minute later, Dale went close once more. McDermott swung in one of his customarily tricky free-kicks from the left, but Ashley Eastham could only find the ‘keeper with his resulting header. It was Henry’s third great save of the half.
In first-half stoppage time the visitors got a second goal. A Michael Doughty free-kick from the left found Nathan Thompson, who had made a clever run across the front post, and his glancing header flew into the top right.
Dale responded immediately. Allen moved the ball across to his left foot from just over 25 yards out, and took all by surprise by smashing the ball powerfully into the top right. This time Henry had no chance.
There was one change for Dale at half-time. Michael Rose replaced Niall Canavan, with Jim McNulty slotting in at centre-back.
A great last ditch tackle from McNulty on Obika stopped Dale from conceding another five minutes after the restart. The ball came back to Nicky Ajose, nut McNulty got back up again to clear the ball from the striker’s grasp.
A minute later Dale made another substitution. Callum Camps departed for the returning Matthew Lund.
Swindon had a man sent off just before the hour mark. Louis Thompson made a late tackle on Andy Cannon just outside the box, and he was punished with a second yellow card.
Dale another free-kick on the edge of the box minutes later, from as central as can be. Michael Rose tried to curl the ball around the wall and into the bottom left, but it skimmed a Swindon player and went out for a corner.
In the 66th minute Dale were level. Allen swung the ball in beautifully from the deep-right. The ball looped and dipped right into the path of Lund, who dived forward to head the ball in off the left post and into the back of the net.
Lillis made another great save from a free-kick to keep the scores level. This time from Nicky Ajose. Ajose had another chance a minute later when he made a 40 yard dash with the ball down the right. He cut inside Lund and flashed the ball past the left post.
McDermott almost gave Dale the lead with 15 minutes to go. His shot from the left side of the box was met with a brilliant reactive parry from Henry. Eastham headed over from the resulting corner.
Dale’s final substitution came soon after, with Grant Holt replacing Bunney.
Matthew Lund nearly grabbed a second with ten minutes to go. A cross from Henderson was chested down into Lund’s path by Holt, and the midfielder took a touch and half-volleyed the ball low to Henry’s left. The 17-year-old ‘keeper made another great save to tip it round the post.
Henderson could have given Dale the lead soon after. McDermott played a short corner to Mendez-Laing, who swivelled and crossed the ball at pace to Henderson. He rose, but headed wide once more.
Swindon went down to nine men in the final minutes. Ottewill got into an altercation with Holt, and was sent off for raising a hand.
Just as six minutes of injury time were announced, Holt had a strong header blocked from close range following a run and cross from McDermott.
Despite the incessant attacks, Dale just couldn’t find a winner. Much of that can be attributed to a magnificent perform from Swindon ‘keeper Will Henry.

Report by Danny Edwards

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