Rochdale started 2021 with a well-deserved point at home to Crewe Alexandra on Saturday.
It was a game of two halves at the Crown Oil Arena, as Dale staged an incredible second half comeback, scoring three goals, to draw the match, having been 3-0 down at half-time.
Oli Finney broke the deadlock early on before the visitors’ Owen Dale doubled their advantage midway through the half. Clinical Crewe added a third with 10 minutes of the first period remaining.
Sixty seconds into the second half Rochdale pulled a goal back through Stephen Humphrys and Matty Lund put Dale right back in it on the hour. The comeback was completed with six minutes left to play, when Lund volleyed home from at the back post.
The match went ahead thanks to the incredible work of the ground staff who worked tirelessly overnight and up until kick-off to ensure the pitch had every chance of hosting a fixture despite a prolonged period of below freezing temperatures.
It was Dale’s first outing in 21 days due to self-isolating over the festive period and there were five changes to the side that lined-up against Gillingham on December 19th. Gavin Bazunu, Jake Beesley and Ollie Rathbone returned from injury, while Matty Lund came back from suspension. Matty Done also started.
The Railwaymen broke the deadlock after six minutes, when Finney found the bottom corner with a volley from 12-yards.
Dale responded to going behind and came close to finding an equaliser just moments later, but Stephen Humphrys’ shot, which was charged down, took a deflection and looped up and narrowly over the bar.
Will Jaaskelainen then pulled off a superb flying save to tip a Matty Done header round the upright.
But the visitors doubled their advantage with 23 minutes on the clock. They broke quickly and Owen Dale struck beyond Gavin Bazunu.
Humphrys fired narrowly over the bar from the edge of the area before Crewe Alex added a third.
Charlie Kirk hit Rochdale on a swift counter-attack and squared for Finney, who slotted home from close ranger.
A couple of minutes later Dale were forced into their first change of the game, when Eoghan O’Connell was unable to continue through injury. He was replaced by Paul McShane.
Before the half was out, Omar Beckles rose highest to meet a cross into the area at the back post, but Bazunu held well.
The ‘keeper was called into action again soon after, as he raced out of his goal to get a block on Mikael Mandron's effort outside the area.
HT | ROCHDALE 0-3 CREWE ALEXANDRA
Sixty seconds after the break, Rochdale pulled a goal back and set the tone for the second half. Morley’s ball in from the left looked to have been turned over the line by Humphrys, although the goal was officially awarded to Morley.
Mikael Mandron poked an effort wide of the far post after bundling his way into the area, before Rathbone had a dipping effort from 25-yards held by Jaaskelainen.
Bazunu then kept out Mandron with a good save and Crewe would go on to rue their missed opporunties as a confident Rochdale scored a second soon after. Humphrys had a shot turned away by the ‘keeper. Beesley then had a shot blocked as the ball was pushed back into play, but it fell for Lund, who struck home to put Rochdale right back in it.
There was confusion in the 65th minute, when Crewe were initially awarded a penalty for handball against a Dale defender. However, after consultation with his assistant, a free-kick was given in Dale's favour.
Soon after, Done came agonisingly close to netting an equaliser. His powerful shot from distance flew narrowly wide after taking a deflection.
Dale’s second substitution of the game came in the 68th minute, when Alex Newby made way for Stephen Dooley, before Bazunu made a great save from Finney's fierce close range effort. A double change came 10 minutes later, with Kwadwo Baah and Ryan McLaughlin replacing Ollie Rathbone and Jimmy Keohane.
Rochdale completed their comeback to secure a deserved point with six minutes left to play. A corner came all the way to the back post for Lund who fired a volley into the roof of the net.
FT | ROCHDALE 3-3 CREWE ALEXANDRA