Point of relief to end testing week
SKY BET LEAGUE ONE ROCHDALE ....................... 0 BURY .................................. 0
ATOUGH old week at the Crown Oil Arena ended with a welcome point from the derby clash against Bury.
Given the way things had gone for Keith Hill and his backroom team in the build up to the game – losing a number of players to illness and injury – not to mention the fact the manager was forced to make two changes by half time, defeat against the neighbours would have capped off a trying few days for the club.
It’s fair to say there will be more entertaining, easier-on-the-eye spectacles at the stadium this season – but the avoidance of defeat in such difficult circumstances was a positive.
“The game was okay in the first half and I was relatively pleased,” said Hill. “We had opportunities in the second half but we didn’t just make enough of the possession that we had in terms of clear cut chances.
“But I’m just happy that we got through the game, because if I’m being honest with you, I could have got in the car an hour before kick-off and drove home. I’m at my end of my tether with certain situations that are developing.
“There are so many things that are tripping us up that it almost feels like there’s some agenda against us that isn’t our fault.
“The players that represented us today were magnificent, when you consider that we had to make two substitutions in the first half again and all my options going into the embers of the game are gone.
“It’s difficult at this moment in time, so from a philosophical perspective, I’m happy.”
Had the opening 25 seconds of the contest been anything to go by, we might have been in for a humdinger. Jordan Williams got in behind his namesake – Jordan Williams of Bury – and squared the ball across the six-yard line for Ian Henderson, whose effort was blocked by Nathan Cameron.
But that was as exciting as the first half action got. What followed was fragmented passages of play short on quality from both sides, the stop start nature of the game not helped by niggling fouls and stoppages for injuries.
The most serious befell left-back Kgosi Ntlhe, who damaged his shoulder and, despite initially try- ing to play on, eventually ambled off clearly in some discomfort.
The few flashes of quality on show came almost exclusively from Steven Davies - but his afternoon was cut short after a seemingly innocuous challenge left him dazed and affected his vision. He saw out the remainder of the first half but did not emerge for the second.
The first half petered out with Rohan Ince’s 20-yard drive two minutes into first half time added on, collected by Brendan Moore, and the first shot on target in the game.
There was more incident to get the pulses raised if not racing after the interval.
A poor back pass in the opening minutes of the second half offered a chance for Matt Done to go one on one against Joe Murphy, but Done’s first touch was heavy and the Shakers’ goalkeeper forced him wide enough to quell the danger.
Bury’s gameplan was dealt a huge blow in the 53rd minute when Murphy collected a pass forward into his midriff on the edge of the box – but after consulting with his linesman, referee John Brooks issued a red card to the goalkeeper for han- dling the ball outside his goal area.
A fine run by Williams down the left saw the former Barrow winger cut inside the fullback and square for Done, but the Bury defence twice blocked Rochdale attempts to strike the ball goalward.
Williams and Henderson linked up well in the 71st minute, Henderson feeding the winger in the area nd Williams skipping around a couple of challenges before sending a side-footed effort towards the corner of replacement keeper Leo Fasan’s goal, the Shakers’ stopper diving to his left to deny Dale.
Thereafter, the Shakers defence sat deep and dealt with Dale’s attempts to break them down, in doing so earning a deserved share of the spoils.
‘It feels like there’s some agenda against us that isn’t our fault’
Rochdale manager Keith Hill has had a difficult time dealing with illness and injury among the squad