Peterborough Utd 3 (Low 10, McLean 44, Crow 90)
Dale team: Spencer, Ramsden, Crooks, McArdle, Kennedy, Muirhead (D’Laryea), Jones, Perkins, Rundle (Murray), le Fondre, Dagnall
Revolution my arse! Our promotion trail got onto a distinctly average start today as we were battered by a Peterborough side with an abundance of both pace and skill.
The sun was shining, the lager was cold and the travelling Daleys all looked super proud in their new black and white striped shirts. A quick look at the Sunderland score (0-0 after 80 mins) in the nearest pub and we were all off, expired student cards in hand and two quid ready to buy a fanzine outside the ground (which was excellent by the way). Sweet optimism filled the air; to quote the front of a mini fixtures list produced a few seasons back – “This time?”.
No, to put it bluntly, not today. We were awful, especially in the first half, but mainly throughout the whole match. Our strikers? Bullied out of the game. Our midfield? Non-existant. Our defence? Ripped apart. Today showed us how much we rely on Stanton, Doolan and Murray to add that “solid core” right through the centre of the lineup.
The first chance of the match was when Peterborough’s Aaron McLean raced past McArdle only to slide his shot inches wide of Spencer’s far post. The Dale fans all shouted “Waaaaay”, more in relief than in an attempt to goad McLean. For the first 10 minutes the match seemed increasingly in Peterborough’s favour, the breakthrough coming via McLean who capitalised on some dodgy defence from Ramsden and McArdle, and played in Josh Low who tidily hit it home past a helpless Spencer. Peterborough’s fans were then heard for the first time in the match.
The problem today with Dale was mostly the opposition – this may seem obvious – but it was us who didn’t adapt to Posh as they adapted to us. Peterborough stifled our wingers, forcing us into the distinctly uncreative middle. They also defended quite deeply, meaning we couldn’t ping the ball over their defence for the strikers to run on to. The result was that our usual style of play was disrupted: our wingers forced out of it, we were reduced to playing long balls to Alfie and Daggers, which was like taking toffees off a baby for their centre backs. Posh, in contrast, were successful against us because they simply gave it to Boyd and McLean up front who ran rings round Crooks and McArdle all afternoon. We couldn’t get hold of them.
Peterborough’s second came from the superb McLean, although he should never have been allowed to score really. Craig Morgan belted a deep cross from the right which bounced agonisingly between goalkeeper Spencer and the central defensive pair allowing Aaron McLean to tap it limply over the line. In my view it was clear Spencer should have come for the ball. Perhaps Sam Russell, our newly-signed keeper, is feeling a little more chirpy tonight?
Peep-peep, not a single chance for Dale as the half-time whistle blew. I consoled myself by laughing at memories of Michael Simpkins. Indeed the Shyte of our Times.
The second half started off the same as the first, equally poorly for Dale. Keith Hill then made some changes after around 10 minutes, with us going 3-4-3: Muirhead and Rundle went off to be replaced by D’Laryea and Murray; Kennedy and Ramsden came forward as wingers, D’Laryea slotted in the three man defence with Crooks and McAwful. This did seem to help us, our long balls were finally reaching their target and their defence pushed forward to stop this – leaving gaps behind them for Daggers and Alfie to penetrate. Only it was too late. Peterborough did a good job of defending our new attacking formation, absorbing the pressure before offering the occasional counter attack. Darren Ferguson did a great job today, although it is rather easier when you’ve got a millionaire chairman who can always delve into his pockets.
After a flurry of around 15 minutes of Dale action, our cause seemed lost and the game returned to how it was in the first half. The best chance of the second half came to Posh, which is telling because they didn’t particularly spend much time in our half. A ‘Boro attacker lashed a volley onto the post (possibly crossbar), the ball fell to another Posh player, he hit the post with his shot, which rebounded onto the crossbar. That may or may not make sense that last sentence (I’m struggling to remember today’s match, it hurts too much), but all I know is they hit the woodwork three times in 10 seconds.
Dale’s best chances were limp shots from outside the area, Perkins and Dagnall both hitting it straight at keeper Jalal. We never really tested him enough; he proved last season to be a dodgy, dodgy keeper. Peterborough finished the game off in the ninetieth minute, sub Danny Crow tapped in from a low cross from the left. Our embarrassment complete, our disappointment showing on our faces, we trudged back to various methods of transport to travel the hundred miles back to glorious Rochdale. There there Daleys, our next league match is Chester – surely all will return to normal and they will be soundly beaten.
So were there any good points from today? Not many, but some still. Tom Kennedy showed he is decent coming forward, especially in the second half when converted to winger/wing-back. Perkins had a good game, as we’ve come to expect. The Dale support were fantastic throughout, and the EGP/92nd Club fanzine was a joy to read. However, the negatives far outweighed the positives – Gary Jones was shite today, couldn’t pass forward, nor run, nor get near any of their players. James Spencer was at fault for the second goal, although he did make a good save in the second half. McArdle and Crooks were rubbish too, slow, disorganised and generally shaky.
But, I still have hope for the season. Peterborough are a very good team, and we were playing away with three key team members missing. I just hope we won’t miss these three guys ever again!
Player by player roundup:
– Spencer: At fault for their second, some good saves, average distribution.
– Ramsden: Didn’t like playing against McLean, made to look poor.
– McArdle: Not a good game for Rory, ran ragged by Boyd and McLean.
– Crooks: Slow.
– Kennedy: Okay in the first half, good in the second.
– Muirhead: Non-existant.
– Perkins: Usual performance from Dorothy. We need him.
– Jones: Definitely no longer an automatic choice in midfield, should be on the bench. Shite today.
– Rundle: See Muirhead.
– Dagnall: Not given anything to work with, understandably couldn’t compete in the air.
– le Fondre: See Dagnall.
– D’Laryea: Did nothing wrong.
– Murray: Improved our team when he came on. Must start vs Chester.