Dale U18’s perform astutely in 1-0 win over Port Vale at Ewen Fields to extend unbeaten run to four games...
Vale’s first attempt didn’t come until the 20 minute mark. Their central midfielder played a lobbed ball over the top of the Dale defence, and their number nine wasted no time to get his shot away, but ultimately sliced the ball left past an unmoved Johny Diba.
Pratt was involved again down the right in an almost identical effort to his first. He once again troubled the Vale left-back, who made the mistake of letting him pull the ball onto his stronger left foot – but the ball whisked past the left post once more.
Dale went ahead on shortly after the half hour mark. A misguided lofted backpass from the Vale left-back was chased down in true striker’s style from Matthew Gillam. The in-form forward continued deep into the Vale box, and fired a shot into the bottom left just as the goalkeeper had begun to make his move.
Gillam could have had another just minutes later. A fine Brandon Smalley set-piece from the left dropped into the goalmouth, but the on-running Gillam angled his volley wide of the right post.
With five minutes remaining in the first half Smalley set up another chance, this time for Joe Piggott. Smalley played a pin-point pass to Piggott from the left of the box, who had made a late run from midfield, but his effort went narrowly over the bar.
There was one change at the half, with Aaron Morley replacing Andrew Hollins. Morley took Kisimba’s place in central midfield, with Kisimba slotting in at centre-back.
Dale were once again quick from the start. Jack Stewart found himself on the right side of the Vale box, and after working some space for himself with some neat footwork, he flashed the ball across the opposition’s goal.
Stewart had another chance to extend Dale’s lead soon after. Another Smalley set-piece dipped into a dangerous area in the Vale box, and Stewart rose to meet the ball, only for his glancing header to go wide of the left post.
Just after the hour mark Port Vale’s keeper made a brilliant save to keep his side in the game. A glided corner found Dale centre-back Declan Evans, whose header was parried wide from close range.
With 15 minutes remaining Piggott almost got himself on the score-sheet in spectacular fashion. After receiving the ball in the air from Pratt on the left, Piggott flicked the ball upwards, turned, pushed it high with his right knee and fired off a ferocious volley that was saved impressively by the Vale keeper.
FT: Rochdale 1-0 Port Vale
Report by Danny Edwards