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Rochdale 1-1 Bradford City: Report

30 April 2017

Rochdale equaled their best ever League One points total, after finishing the season with a 1-1 draw at home to Bradford City at the Crown Oil Arena.

Alex Jones put the visitors ahead after nine minutes in a first half that was dominated by Dale, but they couldn’t find a goal before the break.

The second half also belonged to Dale and Matthew Lund’s equaliser gave Dale hope of grabbing a winner, and but for the inside of the post in the final minute they would have done.

Wins for Southend United and Millwall meant Dale wouldn’t have made the playoffs with a win, but  the point means they equal the club’s best ever points total at this level of football.

Keith Keane was replaced by Lund in the only change from last weekend’s draw at Oldham Athletic.

With Dale still in with a chance of making the playoffs, there was a buzz of excitement inside the Crown Oil Arena, as Dale began strongly.

Bradford stopper Rouven Sattelmaier was forced into a couple of saves early on, firstly from Callum Camps’ well struck volley, before Calvin Andrew’s low effort was comfortably held.

With their first foray forward though, the visitors broke the deadlock. Billy Clarke dispossessed Jim McNulty on the right side of the area, before cutting the ball back to Jones, who struck home calmly to give Bradford an early lead.

The goal came as Dale were down to ten men, with Ian Henderson off the pitch with an injury. Donal McDermott replaced him straight after the goal had been scored.

Nathaniel Mendez-Laing had a golden opportunity to level matters nine minutes later, when a low cross was missed by Kevin Toner and fell to his feet. He set himself, but his shot was saved by the legs of Sattelmaier.

The Bradford stopper was forced into action again by Camps’ half volley, which he couldn’t keep hold of. Andrew got to the loose ball before the goalkeeper, but poked over the bar from ten yards out.

Dale kept up the pressure and created a host of chances in a first half which they dominated. Mendez-Laing and Lund both sent efforts wide, before Andrew’s dipping effort was superbly tipped over the bar by Sattelmaier.

Joe Bunney headed a McDermott corner over, before the visitors rattled the woodwork as they finished the half strongly.

Joe Rafferty’s clearance fell kindly for Alex Gilliead inside the area, whose effort with the inside of his boot cannoned back off the crossbar.

The Bantams also had the final chance of the half, when goalscorer Jones’ fizzing effort was deflected behind by the body of Conrad Logan.

Dale started strongly after the break, again creating a number of chances looking for a way back into the game.

McDermott fired just wide with a low effort after Camps had laid the ball off to him, whilst Lund headed a corner wide before being denied one-on-one after being played in by Mendez-Laing.

However, midway through the half Lund made no mistake a second time as he brought Dale back on level terms.

Mendez-Laing’s powerful run forward opened up the Bradford midfield, allowing him to play a perfectly weighted through ball for Lund, who dinked a finish over Sattelmaier into the far corner.

It was the least Dale deserved, and the crowd inside the Crown Oil Arena were urging them on for another.

McDermott was replaced by Andy Cannon with just under 20 minutes remaining, but it was the visitors who almost put themselves ahead when Daniel Devine crashed an effort off the outside of the post from a deep corner.

Rochdale were pushing for the winner in the final ten minutes, and came closest in the final minute of the 90. Reuben Noble-Lazarus, who had replaced Lund shortly before, sent a fizzing free-kick goal wards which was beaten away by Sattelmaier. The rebound struck a Dale player and came off the inside of the far post before being cleared.

Dale couldn’t find the winning goal of a pulsating game, as the curtain drew on another fine season of League One football in which the battle for the playoffs went down to the final day.

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