Dale start­ing to

Rochdale Observer - - SPORT -

ROCHDALE en­joyed a 3-0 vic­tory against Gilling­ham at the Crown Oil Arena to make it back to back home vic­to­ries in the league.

Their first half dis­play was as close as they’ve come this sea­son to em­u­lat­ing their best form of last sea­son. Two goals to the good by the break and with the Gills down to ten men hav­ing lost Tom Eaves for a nasty el­bow on Joe Raf­ferty, it looked like be­ing a can­ter for Keith Hill’s men.

It was never un­com­fort­able – but with the third goal not ar­riv­ing un­til time added on, Dale were never quite in cruise con­trol.

They were su­pe­rior to the vis­i­tors from the off. Olly Rath­bone’s cor­ner to­wards the near post was met by Joe Bun­ney, the full­back’s run from deep un­tracked and al­low­ing him a free header. The an­gle was tight, how­ever, and his ef­fort flew over the tar­get.

In the tenth minute, a de­flected Rath­bone ef­fort fell invit­ingly for Brad In­man but his first-time volleyed ef­fort was too high to trou­ble Tomas Holy in the Gills goal. It was one of sev­eral op­por­tu­ni­ties for In­man on a day when his ap­proach play was highly im­pres­sive.

The home side kept up the pres­sure and within two min­utes Cal­lum Camps’ floated cen­tre picked out Hen­der­son, who man­aged to gen­er­ate enough power on the header to force a twohanded, div­ing save out of Holy.

Gilling­ham had a great chance to edge ahead in the 18th minute when Bun­ney missed a chance to win the ball in the cen­tre cir­cle and Conor Wilkin­son broke for­ward be­fore feed­ing Billy Bing­ham, gal­lop­ing clear to his left. Bing­ham had Lil­lis to beat but failed to work the goal­keeper as he blazed waste­fully over the top.

In­man side-footed wide from the apex of the penalty area when teed up by Bun­ney but the break­through ar­rived in the 24th minute, and while Hen­der­son’s name will go down in the records as scorer, the goal was down to a bril­liant run from Bun­ney.

Col­lect­ing Davies’ cross­field pass he drib­bled round three Gills chal­lenges on his way for­ward be­fore send­ing a low drive to­wards the bot­tom cor­ner of Holy’s net. The goal­keeper leapt across to suc­cess­fully keep out the shot, but could only parry into Hen­der­son’s path for a sim­ple close-range fin­ish.

The sec­ond goal fol­lowed within two min­utes. Davies’ free-kick from the right saw Hen­der­son chal­lenge Holy, the goal­keeper spilling the ball for Raf­ferty to send a div­ing header into empty net.

Gilling­ham’s task be­came all the more dif­fcult when, in the 44th minute, striker Eaves was dis­missed for an el­bow on Raf­ferty. Eaves had been liv­ing on bor­rowed time since be­ing booked for a foul on Har­ri­son McGa­hey, against whom he’d lost an in­trigu­ing phys­i­cal bat­tle through­out the first half. Eaves’ grow­ing frus­tra­tion spilled over with his il­le­gal chal­lenged on Raf­ferty, for which he re­ceived a straight red card from ref­eree Ed­die Ilder­ton.

In­man had two ef­forts

‘Ev­ery­one ex­pects you to be win­ning 5-0 but there is still a lot of life in the op­po­si­tion’

blocked be­fore the in­ter­val, one by Holy and an­other, a header, crashed against Gills de­fender Ben Nu­gent on its way to goal.

In­man bril­liantly set up Hen­der­son in the open­ing ex­changes of the sec­ond

An­thony Devlin

Keith Hill was pleased with much of the per­for­mance against Gilling­ham

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