Rochdale and Swindon Town shared a point a piece in a rollercoaster of a game at the Crown Oil Arena on Saturday, as the teams drew 4-4.
Charlie Austin netted four for the visitors, whilst Devante Rodney, Danny Lloyd, Abraham Odoh and Ian Henderson were on the scoresheet for Dale, with Henderson heading home in stoppage time to earn a point for Jim Bentley’s side.
Rochdale were 2-0 down within the opening 15 minutes but responded superbly to bring the game back onto level terms as they scored two goals in the space of just three minutes.
Dale got off to what looked like the worst possible start when Charlie Austin broke the deadlock two minutes into the match. He latched onto a low ball in from the right, and after wrong footing Ethan Ebanks-Landell, he took a good touch before finishing beyond Richard O’Donnell from inside the area.
Rochdale had a couple of chances before the Robins extended their lead. Lloyd sent a perfect free-kick into the box from the right, but Ebanks-Landell, who rose highest to meet it, powered a header narrowly over the bar. The Rochdale captain then played a low ball out from the back and into the feet of Lloyd who saw his low shot held by Sol Brynn.
Swindon doubled their advantage with 14 minutes on the clock. After Rushian Hepburn-Murphy got to the byline, he rolled the ball across the face of goal and Austin, unmarked, came in at the back post to tap home from close range.
Rochdale started to fight back and they halved the deficit eight minutes later, in the 22nd minute. Ethan Brierley won the ball in midfield and clipped the ball through to Rodney, who timed his run perfectly to beat the offside trap, before lifting the ball over the advancing goalkeeper and into the far corner.
Dale were level three minutes later. The tenacious Abraham Odoh fought to keep the ball in play at the touchline before finding Brierley who brilliantly picked out Lloyd, and he fired a powerful effort into the top corner from 30-yards.
Rochdale continued on the ascendancy and Max Taylor had the ball in the back of the net six minutes before the break, but his header, which had squirmed inside the upright, from Lloyd’s free-kick to the back post, was ruled out for offside.
As Dale finished the half with a flurry, Lloyd had a low shot from range held, while Owen Dodgson’s 30-yard strike went narrowly wide. Odoh, meanwhile, was kept out at the near post by the legs of Brynn.
Deep in stoppage time, after Dale had piled the pressure on by winning a succession of corners, Swindon Town broke away and Hepburn-Murphy had a shot held by O’Donnell.
Both teams created opportunities in the opening exchanges after the break, although the tempo early on had somewhat subdued compared with the a breathless first half. Ronan Darcy fired past the post from 25-yards, before Marcel Lavinier lashed wide of the target from a partially cleared corner. Jimmy Keohane then had a shot blocked.
Rochdale’s first change of the match followed on the hour, Scott Quigley making way for Ian Henderson.
Lloyd struck over 25-yards, before a second change came moments later, as Rodney who went down injured, was unable to continue and was replaced by D’Mani Mellor.
There was a big chance for Dale in the 71st minute. After Brierley found Dodgson with a superb ball forward, he in turn squared for Lloyd, who, with the goal gaping, agonisingly fired over the bar first time.
Rochdale were in front, however, less than sixty seconds later, with Odoh putting the side 3-2 up. He picked up on a loose ball and drove forward down the right and struck across goal and into the far bottom corner from just inside the area.
The elation was short-lived and the Robins were back on level terms three minutes later, as Austin completed his hat-trick. His initial close-range effort was kept out by O’Donnell’s fine save but he poked home on the rebound.
Swindon regained the lead soon after, in the 79th minute, as Austin netted his fourth of the game. Unmarked inside the box, he lashed home a first-time strike into the top left hand corner of the net.
A double switch followed six minutes later, with Liam Kelly and Femi Seriki coming on for Keohane and Dodgson.
O’Donnell was on hand to tip Darcy’s strike over the bar, to keep Dale in the game with minutes of the match remaining.
But Dale didn’t give up and kept fighting until the end. Deep into stoppage time, Henderson headed home from a corner to secure a deserved point for Rochdale.
Dale had chances to win it during the dying moments of the seven minutes of added time, though. Toby Mullarkey had an effort from the edge of the area held by the goalkeeper, before Lloyd was denied by the post. After Swindon cleared the danger, from the resulting corner, Max Taylor came stretching in to meet it, but sent a volley over, in the last action of the game, and ultimately the points were shared.