Nat king goal is the toast of Rochdale
NATHANIEL Mendez-Laing stole the show at Spotland as his hat-trick against Swindon sealed Rochdale’s second round place and left assistant boss Chris Beech purring over the winger’s performance.
Summer signing Mendez-Laing’s three strikes, including one from the spot, proved decisive in the all-League One encounter, with Nicky Ajose’s penalty a consolation for the Robins.
But Beech was left ‘disappointed’ with Swindon after Louis Thompson’s challenge 15 minutes from the end led to Callum Camps being stretchered off and seven minutes of stoppage time before the final whistle blew.
“I’m really pleased for him because he deserved it,” said Beech of match-winner Mendez-Laing.
“He played really well, he was a running threat and what has been good about him in the last couple of weeks is the fact he has been prepared to track back and help out defensively.
“So there’s a good mixture about his game at the minute and he has backed that up with goals.
“That tackle was very unlike the Swindon I have come to know and like over the last couple of years, very unlike a player who has been excellent for them and it left me with a sickly feeling for the last 20 minutes or so.”
Dale took a 25th-minute lead when Michael Rose’s corner was looped onto the bar amid a goalmouth scramble and Mendez-Laing headed home the rebound.
Joe Bunney almost added a second when Mendez-Laing ran from his own half to tee him up on the edge of the area but was denied by Lawrence Vigouroux’s diving 40thminute fingertip save.
Within a minute of the restart, Peter Vincenti burst into box and his blocked shot fell to Mendez-Laing who volleyed the loose ball home emphatically to double Dale’s lead.
And when Bradley Barry hauled down Bunney with the goal gaping, Mendez-Laing stepped up to fire home the 69th-minute spot kick and seal his hat-trick.
But Swindon were awarded their own penalty moments later when Scott Tanser brought down Barry and Ajose grabbed one back, but Martin Ling was left without victory on his Swindon boss debut.
“I thought the best team won if I’m totally honest,” said Ling.
“There’s plenty of work to be done but there’s genuine honesty in there. None of them gave up, they all gave it a go and they’re all prepared to get out there and rectify the situation we’re in, so there’s some work to be done.
“We wanted to do well in the cup but it’s not affected us in the league position and we go again, we brush ourselves down, but it’s given me an insight to see a game now and I just felt when we play one up front, it made us not as fluid as with two.”
STAR MAN NATHANIEL MENDEZ-LAING