Rochdale 2 (Perkins 83, Prendergast 101)
Stoke City 2 (Shawcross 4, Cresswell 120)
Dale win 4-2- on pens a.e.t.
Dale team: Spencer, Ramsden, McArdle, D’Laryea, Kennedy, Muirhead, Perkins, Jones, Rundle (Prendergast), Murray, Dagnall (le Fondre)
Don’t worry folks, the revolution is back on! And in superb fashion. I left Spotland tonight more satisfied than I have been for quite a while – probably since the 5-0 win over MK Dons – satisfied with both the result and the performance. Peterborough last week is now history. All is forgotten! All is forgiven!
Dale started with pretty much the same team as Saturday, with Nathan D’Laryea replacing Crooks as the only change in Hilly’s side. The match started not very well for us – Stoke City’s Liam Lawrence crossed the ball from the right and Ryan Shawcross got in front of Rory McArdle to head the Championship side one-up after 3 minutes. Oh well, only to be expected, they are after all two leagues above ourselves. I was in all honesty hoping for anything other than a rout.
What occurred over the next 120 minutes was anything but a rout. Stoke City were a disgrace to Championship football, an unintelligent, long-ball team consisting of bullies and skinheads. And Jon Parkin. Another reason why today’s victory was oh so sweet.
Stoke were basically good at set-pieces, and that was it. Every City corner was met by a Stoke head – we were lucky to be only one down by the break, but not particularly because they dominated the match. It was a case of us having possession, but not having the nous maybe to break them down when it mattered. Our best attacks in the first half came mostly at the end, once we’d recovered from the shock of going one-nil down – Muirhead and Rundle were whipping in some dangerous balls, although they never really found a head. We really got the wingers going tonight, especially Prendergast, but we’ll get onto him later.
At the other end, Jon Parkin had Stoke’s best effort, swivelling inside the penalty box only to see his effort saved by Spencer. Why the long face Parkin? Oh sorry, you always look like that! He got subbed later on to cries of “You’re going off cos you’re fat”, but I thought he was City’s most threatening player, miles better than the disinterested Mamady Sidibe
The end of the first half came and I felt genuinely please about how we’d played in the first half. Yes we were one-down, and deservedly so, but we didn’t roll over and die and we looked determined to play decent football unlike our so-called Championship opposition. Jones had a cracking first half, I was glad to see he had picked himself up after some people (me included) slagged him off after the Posh match. Kennedy was also looking good, more as an attacking threat than a defender – many a time he picked up Ben Muirhead running down the right flank with a cross-field pass. So overall, a decent first half.
The next forty-five minutes of this Carling Cup draw were exhilarating if you were a Dale fan. We more than matched Stoke, who had few opportunities in the second half. I am very angry at the BBC website which suggests that “[Stoke] looked good for the win“. This is a complete lie. We had more possession, more shots and just more about us. Adam Rundle had probably our best opportunity, Murray spotted Rundle homing in on the back post and picked him out with pinpoint accuracy, but Rundle belted the ball against the post.
After 64 minutes, Daggers was replaced by Adam le Fondre, who chased and chased for the time he was on. He came closest with a 20 yard free kick which just missed the right-hand post. On 75 minutes, Rundle, who was playing well, was replaced by Prendergast, more due to tiredness than anything else. Little did we know that our match-winner had just come onto to the field.
Stoke in the second half were reduced to long shots and occasional counter attacks. We were the aggressors, and our equaliser seemed inevitable. I had just commented that David Perkins had never scored for us when he played a ball into Glenn Murray, who cleverly played the ball between his feet into Perks’s path, who then belted it into the roof of the net from just inside the area. The perfect one-two goal, and what a way to get your first ever goal for the Dale.
After that, if there was going to be a winner, it looked like it would be us. During both the end of the ninety minutes and all through the extra time, Prendergast was immense. Chasing lost balls and finding them, taking the piss out of Stoke defender Stephen Wright (ex-Liverpool) and generally causing our opponents all kinds of trouble. After 100 minutes, Rory got what he deserved when Adam le Fondre crossed from the right into his path, and he volleyed past Russell Hoult into the WMG goal. Rory Prendergast you are a legend.
The second half of injury time was tense. More than tense, headache-inducingly tense. I was impressed that we didn’t plop ourselves firmly in our own half, and in fact we looked for a third. No time-wasting corner routines with Hilly, our corners were swung into the Stoke City area and in turn we forced them back. The fourth official had just put his board up for three minutes injury time when it happened – Richard Cresswell bundled the ball home after some tired-looking defence from Dale. Oh dear oh dear oh dear. I knew they shouldn’t have done that “Easy” chant. Stoke fans entertained themselves with “Two-one and you f*cked it up”, which wasn’t really accurate as we still won in the end. Obviously not very bright your average Stoke fan.
Penalties it was then, I’ll give you a run down of the runners and riders:
Dale 1-0 Stoke: GOAL Tom Kennedy, slotted it down to the left side, sent Hoult the wrong way.
Dale 1-0 Stoke: SAVED Richard Cresswell, saved by Spencer who guessed correctly.
Dale 1-0 Stoke: SAVED Adam le Fondre, a repeat of Cresswell’s penalty, Hoult saved well.
Dale 1-1 Stoke: GOAL Anthony Pulis, Spencer guessed the right way, but couldn’t reach Pulis’s shot up high.
Dale 2-1 Stoke: GOAL Rory Prendergast, sent Hoult to the right when the shot was to the left.
Dale 2-2 Stoke: GOAL Liam Lawrence, Spencer dived left, Lawrence went right.
Dale 3-2 Stoke: GOAL Ben Muirhead, slotted it down to the left past Hoult.
Dale 3-2 Stoke: MISSED Carl Dickinson, stupidly hoofed it into the WMG.
Dale 4-2 Stoke: GOAL Gary Jones, down to the left again.
In fact, all our penalties went low and to the left. You’d have thought Russell Hoult would have figured out the pattern!
After Jonah scored, relief and satisfaction set in. Relief that we didn’t let that stupid last minute goal ruin a good performance, and satisfaction that we’d beaten a Championship side by playing better football than them.
– Spencer: Cannot be faulted today, saved well from Parkin and also saved a pen.
– Ramsden: Still not convincing, although playing against a decent winger.
– McArdle: A return to “the Wall” nickname for Rory, no more Mr McAwful. Solid.
– D’Laryea: Very impressed again with Nathan, didn’t let much past him.
– Kennedy: Man of the match candidate, passing excellent, wing-play very good.
– Muirhead: A Championship defence were scared of his pace! Bodes well for this season.
– Perkins: Never really got into it until the second half. Scored a really good goal.
– Jones: Another MOM candidate. Ran around like an idiot, in the best possible sense.
– Rundle: Didn’t beat their man, but made up for it with some decent crosses.
– Murray: Okay by Murray’s standards, but showed why we missed him on Saturday.
– Dagnall: Okay, didn’t get many opportunities.
– Prendergast: Our match winner. I wouldn’t like to drop him after that performance, but will Keith Hill?
– le Fondre: Caused some trouble in a tired defence. Assisted our second goal.