Rochdale 5 (Dagnall 20, 41, 45, Murray 47, 59)
Macclesfield Town 0
Dale team: Gilks, Ramsden, McArdle, Crooks, Goodall, Thompson (Brown), Perkins, Doolan, Rundle (Poole), Dagnall (Dodds), Murray
First of all, apologies for not having a review of the last Dale match (2-1 away victory against Mansfield) – I couldn’t get there, and apparently nobody wanted to do a guest report! But it was a rubbish game anyway apparently, and the most important thing was the scoreline.
So onto today’s game. Another one of Keith Hill’s trademarked routs, which have become commonplace these days. If you look at the stats, you’ll see how remarkable our scoring record is of recent. Since Hill took charge we’ve scored 44 goals in total, including two 5-0’s, two 4-0’s and a 7-2. Those 44 goals were scored in 22 games, which gives us an average of two goals per game. MK Franchise, the current goal-leaders, score an average of 1.6 goals per game, so it just shows you that we’re the best by far in terms of hitting the net.
Anyway, about today. Dale were excellent once more (I’m always saying that these days). If we carry on like this next season, we’ll be in real danger of winning something, and I’m not too sure the Dale faithful could handle that (we’ll do our best though). Macclesfield today looked poor, and I’m sure Paul Ince will be bitterly disappointed that his team capitulated so early in the match. Ince was a great player, who had a great work-ethic, and I’m positive that one day Ince will become a decent manager. But he’s got to keep Macclesfield away from relegation, or I’m afraid he would be for the chop. If they do transpire to go down, I really hope the Macc board keep Ince on, as he’s a talent for sure.
But enough about Macclesfield Town. Today was another one all about us. The tone was set in the first 10 or so minutes when Rundle found himself on the ball on the edge of the six-yarder. He calmly took the ball down, fired it at keeper Lee before Chris Dagnall spooned it wide – into the path of Glenn “He’s mint” Murray who completely missed the ball and was made to look an right idiot in front of the Sandy Lane terrace. “Oooh” followed by “aww no, how’d he miss?” followed by “keep going Dale” with an accompaniment of sympathy clapping. Disappointing obviously, but enough to suggest we weren’t going to struggle for chances today.
The first goal came on twenty minutes. The ball was pinged into the Macclesfield box, and what resulted was a handball by David Morley, and a penalty for Dale. With Gary Jones still injured, it was upto to Chris Dagnall to score, which he did – but only just. For where I was sitting, the penalty hit the bottom of the post and kindly bounced up to Dagnall to slot home with an open net. But BBC disagrees – they say the keeper saved it. There was a bit of debate out this actually; if it did hit the post and not the keeper then the goal should not have been allowed, surely? You can’t kick the ball again till someone else touches it, otherwise you could just dribble up to the goal. I guess this is one for ITV1’s The Championship to clear up (a programme which we are getting considerable air time on). Whatever the method, the goal stood. 1-0 Dale.
After forty minutes, we got a second, again through Dagnall. Glenn Murray placed a lovely little through-ball for Daggers to run onto, and Dale’s top scorer clipped the ball over onrushing keeper Lee and it nestled in the Sandy Lane net. Two nil Dale – cue Tom Hark again!
You have to laugh or else you cry
You have to live or else you die
You have to laugh of else you cry”
A while ago I would have said these lyrics were appropriate, but now I think “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves is more apt.
Dagnall’s brace started a conversation up in the Main Stand. “Who scored the last hat-trick for Dale? Was it Gareth Griffiths??” It was a depressing though, our previous hat-trick scorer an aged defender who now plays for Northwich Victoria. I still don’t know if it was Griffiths, I can’t be bothered to look. But with our subtle and topical conversation, the Football Gods smiled down us, and Dagnall became our most-recent hat-trick scorer with another slotted goal after he intercepted some dodgy defensive backpassing. Note to all Dale fans – if you’re going to try to tempt fate, do it sneakily.
It seemed a bit muted throughout Spotland today. The promised masses of Silkmen never arrived, and both the WMG and Sandy Lane ends were not up to usual standards of noise. The Barcelona vs Ireland match staged at half time barely raised a titter (Ireland won four nil, I believe). I put it down to Life of Riley Syndrome. We’ve never had it so good, literally, and we’ve forgotten how to sing and shout and clap. I expect a return to equilibrium against Hartlepool next Saturday (in the new stripes!).
Our fourth goal of another vintage performance from Dale came right after half-time. Dagnall’s shot was saved by dodgy keeper Lee into Murray‘s path, who belted the ball into the roof of the net. You could easily right a formula for Dale’s performances recently. Flowing football + dangerous balls into box + lethal strikers = wahey + Tom Hark + rhythmic clapping. Repeat formula until promotion. If only it were this simple.
Rochdale were playing some lovely stuff today. Doolan had a stormer today, as did Rundle. Perkins was his usual self, as usual. And then of course Joe Thompson. Joe is a YTS lad, who’s only played a handful of games in the first-team, but did enough to warrant the “League Two trainee of the year” award earlier this year. I’m still undecided about Thompson. On the plus side, he is still very young (just 18), he’s quite skilful, and can deliver some great corners and free-kicks. On the minus side, he looks weak sometimes, lacks confidence, and has a tendency to be out of position. But if all those things can be worked on, Thompson could go far. And who better to help him than Keith Hill, the ex-Youth Team manager? It’s just a case of working hard, taking chances and not getting disillusioned for Joe. He nearly scored today too – a glanced header which went wide of the right hand post. It was going at some speed though, so I’ll let him off.
Back to the match, and a fifth goal was all to predictable as Mr. Murray danced through a couple of Macc defenders before popping an impressive shot into the bottom right of the WMG goal. Paul Ince was looking confused and irate. Macclesfield did improve when they took off Bob Marley from midfield and brought bury reject Matthew Tipton and Alan “my first name doesn’t fit my second” Navarro on, but it was all too little too late, as Mark Lawrenson would say.
After that, the match fizzled out. Neither side had many chances after that – Town probably having the closest when sub Isaiah Rankin had one excellently saved from Gilks near to the final whistle. Dagnall was substituted for Louis Dodds, to a well earned ovation, Rundle (who was having a quiet second half) was taken off in place of Poole, and Thompson was replaced by Brown. The ground was eerily quiet for a while too, with everybody seemingly waiting for a tackle or a dribble so that they could release the tension which builds up during a match.
Credit to Hill and Flitcroft today. They fielded a strong team, and clearly were up for it, when so many managers wouldn’t be too bothered when the result didn’t matter too much. Ince on the other hand, clearly still has something to learn, but at least he is dedicated to playing decent football (Macc were no Boston).
A look to next week then – Hartlepool at home, an all-ticket match. If we can play like that again, we should have no trouble with the league leaders. A definite five to six thousand fans. A chance for Jeff Stelling’s favourite team to win the Title! And Dale in the new kit! I can’t wait meself!