Manager Brian Barry-Murphy has praised the players for sticking to task and going right until the end, after his side scored two late goals against Morecambe to secure three points from their opening EFL Trophy Group Stage match.
Sam Levelle put the home side 1-0 up after 23 minutes and they held the lead until deep into the second half, when Fabio Tavares netted a Rochdale equaliser with four minutes to play and Alex Newby scored in stoppage time to win the game for Dale.
Speaking after the game, the Boss commented: “It was a tough game. It was probably the first time a lot of our guys have had a competitive game since we resumed, so I’m very, very pleased to get through relatively unscathed apart from Yeboah [Amankwah] who has a tight hamstring.
“He hasn’t been composed to any real competitive match minutes since March, or probably even before that, so I think it’s just some cramp or maybe a tightness. But whenever I tend to speculate on these types of things in my interview after the game, I’m wrong, so, I’m on a watching brief until maybe tomorrow or Thursday, when we’ll have a clearer idea of how severe his hamstring issue is.
“There were great signs in terms of application and belief in what were doing, against a very experienced team. A trend of our success over the last few years in this competition has, irrespective of the result, been blooding young players who are very, very young in terms of their personnel. Tonight we had the likes of Ethan [Brierley], Kwadwo [Baah], Fabio [Tavares] and Lewis [Bradley] go up against an experience side, so to go behind was a brilliant test for us and I’m very pleased to see us stick to task and go right until the end. The result is the icing on the cake.
“They scored, and their physicality was hard for us to handle, both from set-plays and from general play, but when we really managed to impose our personality on the game, I felt as if we were the controlling force. I always thought we’d score, it was just a case of whether we could keep them out at the other end and we managed to do that. Jim McNulty and Yeboah were instrumental in that, and Aaron Morley, if I’m being honest, was the outstanding player on the pitch by some way.”
Tavares’ goal gets him off the mark for the season and BBM is pleased to see him get on the scoresheet.
“Fabio has been really, really good in pre-season. We all know that he is going to score loads of goals, we can’t be certain at what stage, but he gets chances after chances in every game that he plays in, and his attitude and his personality are huge assets. We really believe that he’ll be a huge asset to the Club. On a timescale it’s hard to tell when that’ll be, but he will be.”
Newby’s goal was the summer signing’s first for the Club.
“Alex is someone who is going to score loads and loads of goals. We brought him on to give the lads that extra bit of attacking punch late in the game when we’re chasing it. No matter what we say, it’s still nice to try and have that understanding of trying to win the game. We were out on our feet physically, but we managed to still be a really dangerous threat in the game and create chances, and Alex was the catalyst in that, along with Stephen Dooley because they were fresh when they came on and really helped out the lads who had been in there from the start.”
16-year-old Ethan Brierley, who made his senior debut in Saturday’s Carabao Cup tie against Huddersfield Town, made his first start for the side on Tuesday evening.
“Ethan has been with Lee [Riley in the Academy] for a very long time, so he’s very understanding of what he can do. He is very at home in our environment and he’s a very talented player who has been with us since the resumption of training. The demands that we put on him as a 16-year-old in a competitive game against a team of experienced players are normal for him and we feel as if he’s capable of adapting to that. He’s a huge talent and one that we’re very keen to protect but also push as hard as we can in these games so early in the season.”