Nat king goal is the toast of Rochdale

The Football League Paper - - FA CUP FIRST ROUND - By John McDougall

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

Rochdale

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