Shea keeps out dominant Dale
SKY BET LEAGUE ONE
JAMES Shea and the Luton Town rearguard rode their luck at the Crown Oil Arena on Saturday as they somehow contrived to keep dominant Rochdale from scoring.
The Hatters goalkeeper was man of the match by some distance, pulling off a string of saves to deny Keith Hill’s men.
And even when Shea was finally beaten, in the closing stages of the game with the visitors down to ten men having lost Danny Hylton to a straight red card, the crossbar intervened on their behalf to frustrate Zach Clough’s fine effort.
Not that Hill was frustrated – he was more than happy with what was probably the best home performance of the season so far,
“I was pleased with the performance and it’s not always about the three points, it’s about much more than that,” he said.
“But with respect to the team, the identity, the way we played, the courage the players showed in and out of possession, the goalscoring opportunities we created, I’m really pleased. We just didn’t take those opportunities, but it gave us a clean sheet which gives us a valuable point.
“I enjoyed watching our first 45 minutes. “It was a marvellous display for any neutral watching. It’s the way football should be played.
“I’m getting personnel fit and up to speed now and I thought it was superb performance which caused consternation for the opposition and probably caused them to change tactics, which is what I want as a manager.”
Having suggested he might have to make wholesale changes in personnel in a bid to achieve consistency result-wise, Hill made just one – Matt Done coming in for the injured Oliver Rathbone in midfield.
The home side had the better of the contest throughout, and were especially dominant in the first half when they created a number of opportunities without taking advantage.
During a lively opening, Jack Stacey posed an early threat for Luton, their first attack seeing him tear away down the right, his near post delivery turned wide by Danny Hylton.
Ian Henderson and Hylton saw penalty appeals waved away while Matty Done cut in from the left to work a good shooting opportunity but sliced his finish wide of Shea’s goal.
Henderson went close to netting his 100th goal for the club when played through by Brad Inman on the right of the area, the Dale skipper denied as Shea diverted his effort wide.
On 17 minutes a Luton attack broke down and Dale raced upfield through Done, who picked out Inman’s run into the opposition penalty area. However, the ball was slightly stuck beneath his feet and Inman’s connection wasn’t strong enough to beat Shea.
The chances kept coming for Dale, a goalmouth scramble seeing Done twice denied by Shea and some desperate Luton defending.
Inman saw a rising angled drive beaten away by Shea before the half was out, but as the teams left the field for the interval, Luton were the happier to go in on level terms.
Stephen Dooley’s chest down and volley flew over the top and Done blasted into the side netting at the start of the second half as Dale looked to maintain their pressure on the Luton goal.
Hill introduced Calvin Andrew and he was desperately close to connecting with a dangerous Done delivery across the face of goal.
The visitors served reminder of their threat on the counter attack when Pelly RuddockMpanzu played James Collins through, the Luton man pulling a shot inches wide from the edge of the area.
Luton were reduced to ten men in the 72nd minute when Hylton was shown a straight red card for a stamping challenge on Henderson.
Substitute Clough came the closest to scoring when he finally beat Shea with a curling effort from the edge of the area which flew past the goalkeeper but crashed against the crossbar.
Matt Done was denied in the first half