Shea keeps out dom­i­nant Dale

Middleton Guardian - - TRAVEL -


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.

Vin­cent Cole

Matt Done was de­nied in the first half

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