Dale get blitzed
SKY BET LEAGUE ONE ROCHDALE ....................... 4 BRADFORD CITY ............ 0
ROCHDALE were on the receiving end of a spectacular performance from Bradford City on Saturday as 2018 closed with a thumping defeat at the Crown Oil Arena.
The Bantams have had a dire first half of the campaign but had been showing signs of recovery throughout December. However, they’d never hit these kind of heights before.
In Jack Payne they had the undisputed man of the match, and he was complemented by fine displays across the park from his team-mates. This was Bradford’s A-plus game, while Dale struggled to get theirs going at all.
Keith Hill made just one change to the starting line-up with Matty Gillam replaced by Bradden Inman in the front three, Inman having made a significant second half impact on the Boxing Day win against Blackpool.
With away supporters packing out the Willbutts Lane stand there was a buzz about the stadium matched on the field by the players in a lively opening.
Dan Adshead, Ian Henderson and Joe Rafferty worked a promising opening down the right which, while it came to nothing, suggested Dale were set fair to continue their fine form.
However, it was Bradford who quickly emerged as the dominant team in the first period with the home side struggling to cope with the pace and movement of Payne, David Ball and Eoin Doyle in particular.
It took an MJ Williams interception to halt Payne’s run into the area and minutes later a patiently worked move from the Bantams ended with Nathaniel KnightPercival squaring for Payne 10 yards from goal, Brendan Moore beating his shot away.
Ryan Delaney cut out Doyle’s attempt to play the ball across the face of goal from the edge of the six-yard box as the visitors maintained a bright start and when Bradford took the lead in the 23rd minute it was no more than they deserved.
Payne’s corner towards the near post picked out the run of Doyle and his angled header looked destined for the bottom corner of the net until Moore managed to keep it out. However, Knight-Percival was first to the loose ball, tapping home from close range.
Doyle went close soon after, flashing a header towards the target which only just cleared the crossbar.
Such was the visitors’ superiority in the first half hour of the game that Hill made a tactical change on 34 minutes, Adshead making way for Kgosi Ntlhe, who went to leftback with Matt Done operating on the right of the front three.
The troublesome Payne struck a rasping drive from the edge of the area which Moore successfully parried to safety and Dale were relieved to be heading in at the break just one goal behind.
Their hopes of mounting a second half improvement hit the buffers quickly.
Ollie Rathbone’s trip on Ball at the start of the second half presented Bradford with a free-kick on the edge of the box, Payne’s effort headed over the bar by the Dale wall.
But the home side failed to clear their lines sufficiently when the corner came in and when Payne collected possession on the right he weaved his way past Ntlhe and scuffed a centre towards the edge of the six-yard box, defender Anthony O’Connor sweeping the ball beyond Moore with a cleverly improvised finish.
Calvin Andrew came on to add some physical presence to the frontline and Dale initially started to ask a few more questions
Rochdale came up against an inspired performance from Jack Payne in Saturday’s 4-0 defeat at the Crown Oil Arena
Rochdale manager Keith Hill