Stunned Page raps ref af­ter pen shock

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By Ned Bris­tow

PORT Vale boss Rob Page was left ru­ing piv­otal ref­er­ee­ing de­ci­sions as their four-match win­ning streak came to an end at Spot­land.

Chris Bir­chall opened the scor­ing for Vale early on, be­fore a con­tro­ver­sial Ian Hen­der­son penalty and Nathan Men­dez Laing’s low strike handed Rochdale all three points.

The game was played in tor­rid con­di­tions, but Page felt it was ref­eree Dar­ren Eng­land who drowned out his side’s chances of a win.

“It’s a bit­ter pill to swal­low,” said Page, who also had cap­tain Carl Dick­in­son sent off at the death.

“Ev­ery­one was gob­s­macked to see him point to the spot – how he can give that I don’t know.

“I get an op­por­tu­nity to write a re­port on Mon­day and I will be do­ing that be­cause that is so frus­trat­ing.

“We have just got to get on with it and do our best to bounce back. It is a de­feat and it was not helped by de­ci­sion­mak­ing, but we will get on with it.

“Sec­ond half at 1-1 we had op­por­tu­ni­ties to take the lead. With bet­ter de­ci­sion-making in vi­tal ar­eas we would have gone on to win the game.”

Heavy con­di­tions played a part in the visi­tors’ 13th-minute opener, as Bir­chall cap­i­talised on a loose ball that stopped dead on the edge of the box be­fore round­ing the stranded Joel Cas­tro Pereira to slot home. From there Rochdale came into the game, and the pres­sure told af­ter 40 min­utes when Dick­in­son brought down 18-year-old James Hooper in­side the box. Cap­tain Hen­der­son con­verted from the spot for his sixth of the sea­son.

Rochdale dom­i­nated af­ter the break, and were al­most ahead af­ter 70 min­utes when the out­stretched Richard Duffy de­flected Hen­der­son’s cross on to his own post.

Shortly af­ter Dick­in­son had headed onto the bar from a Port Vale cor­ner, Men­dez-Laing put Dale ahead on 78 min­utes with a low strike from just in­side the area af­ter Hooper’s shot had been par­ried away.

Dick­in­son then saw red af­ter an off-the-ball al­ter­ca­tion sec­onds be­fore full-time, and Rochdale held firm for their first home win since Septem­ber to the de­light of man­ager Keith Hill.

“I’m really pleased with the three points,” said Hill. “I think it was a three-point per­for­mance so I’m happy.

“It was a very at­tack­ing line-up and there was an at­tack­ing in­tent. As a man­ager you need points on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, but I was really pleased with the way we played.

“It wasn’t a penalty and I sym­pa­thise with Port Vale.The first goal was also a bit freak­ish and it could have rocked us con­fi­dence-wise, but I saw us grow.”

STAR MAN JAMES HOOPER Rochdale

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