Hereford United 1 (Robinson 27)
Rochdale 1 (Dagnall (pen) 21)
Dale team: Spencer, Ramsden, Branston, McArdle, Kennedy, Jones (Crooks), Doolan, Perkins, Prendergast (le Fondre), Dagnall (Rundle), Murray
Apologies for the lateness of this match report – I think someone *must* have spiked my drink (coff coff). As you’ll probably know by now, the match was no classic anyway. In fact I don’t even know why I am bothering to do a match report for that shower of shite. In all honesty I could sum up the match perfectly in one word: dogshit. Wait, is that two words?. Nevertheless I will endeavour to make this report as exciting as possible, but they do say that you can’t polish a turd so don’t be expecting something worth reading.
Dale started with an odd formation. I assumed Ben Muirhead must have been injured in the pre-match warm-up because Gary Jones started on the right of the four man midfield. The rest of the team lined up in their usual positions, with Guy Branston making his Dale debut in the centre of the defence. Prendergast replaced Rundle, who was unlucky to be dropped.
The match started in lethargic fashion under the blazing Herefordshire sun, and continued that way throughout. It must have been about 25 degrees, an unhelpful time for the English summer to make an appearance and both sides were wilting in the heat. Dale lacked any real vigour today, not helped by the whistle-happy referee, although to be fair he made awful decisions for both sides today. The first memorably bad decision came when Chris Dagnall was bundled over in the box, innocuously enough it seemed, but regardless the ref pointed to the spot and Daggers hit the penalty low into the left hand side. This was to be our only real effort on target, our attacking threat over after twenty minutes.
Hereford were causing us a fair few problems, especially with the pace of ex-Derby man Lionel Ainsworth down the flank. Trevor Benjamin also did his fair share of jumping, heading and tumbling like only a big black man can. The referee seemed happy enough to blow his whistle after aerial challenge, one such free-kick resulted in Hereford’s goal. Lionel “Blair” Ainsworth took a free-kick nowhere near where the foul occurred and hoofed it up for Theo Robinson to stroll past Guy Branston, run towards James Spencer and adeptly finish it in front of the almost empty home section of the curved-shed-terrace-thingy. 1-1, our lead has lasted little over five minutes. Good goal though it was, I was unhappy that the quick free kick was allowed to have been taken in the first place – a rare lack of pedantry from the otherwise picky Mr Horwood, the man in black for the day.
After this Dale struggled to get any kind of moves going, our brightest “threat” seemed to be coming from Doolan’s unusually misplaced chips to our strikers. The one bit of good play we had, when Murray played in Dagnall to leave a one-on-one was offside, and that was pretty much it in terms of attacking from us. Jonah was hopeless today, once again, although I did wonder what Keith Hill was playing at by starting with him at right wing ahead of Ben Muirhead. The dreaded “undroppable” word was doing the rounds amongst the Dale support – I don’t know whether to believe it or not. Could Keith Hill really have thought that Jonah would be a better option on the right flank compared to Muirhead? They’re chalk and cheese, one a pacey, skilful attacker who did wonders in our amazing run last year; the other a shadow of his former self, reduced to being praised merely for his “love for the club” and the fact that he can run around all day like a dickhead despite not getting anywhere near the ball. Keith Hill you need to take a good long look at the starting lineup before the MK Franchise match, or we’ll be battered.
The rest of the first half Hereford looked increasingly like being the only likely winners of this terrible match of football. Trevor Benjamin missed a decent opportunity in the box when his first touch luckily bounced into Spencer’s arms, also Lionel Ainsworth fired over the bar from very close in when he should have done better. We never looked like getting into it, and it was our midfield who were the problem today. Perkins looked a bit too hot and never did his usual crowd-pleasing tackles; Doolan played too many blind balls and looks like he needs some match practice; Prendergast was unsupported and had to resort to backpasses to Ramsden; and Jonah was usual Jonah. It’s easy to say that Jones was the reason we didn’t do well today, but the others must come under criticism too for an inadequate display which left the 250 Dale fans with nothing to cheer about in either half. Must do better.
Second half was same as the first, but with even less opportunities for Dale. Guy Branston, who had a first-half shocker, improved – but he still looks dodgy, slow and definitely in the James Sharp mould. Ramsden’s performance again was poor, and he will be taken apart by any decent left winger this year.
Hereford were pressing and fired many a ball into and around James Spencer, who I thought played well. Some fans were bemoaning him for his unwillingness to catch, but his punches were all strong and cleared the lines, so I don’t know why some were having a go at him. Spencer pretty much kept us in it, making some class saves and also not messing up (important that).
Around the 65 minute mark, David Perkins picked up his first booking. It was harsh I feel, there was a free kick and he ran forward thinking it had been taken when the Hereford player merely was resting his foot on the ball. Was that really worth a booking? Well, no is the answer.
After this, Hill tried in vain to change things around, with Lee Crooks coming on for Jonah and Alfie replacing Rory Prendergast. It didn’t help much, and Hereford continued to apply pressure with crosses and corners. Still no sign of Ben Muirhead – I can only assume something us Dale fans could not have seen…
And so we stole a point from Herefordshire today – we didn’t deserve anything. I will now finish off this match report with a new feature which is designed to sum up the match along with the player-by-player round-up – for those lazy articles who can’t be bothered to read prose!
Reasons to be cheerful?:
– We got a point.
– Spencer looks to be gaining confidence and was bright enough today not to try and catch every high ball.
– We got a point.
…and reasons not to be?:
– Never looked like scoring today, even with our first choice central midfield.
– Keith Hill again made some errors of judgement in the lineup.
– We haven’t scored from open play yet this season.
– Spencer: Good performance, gained us that point we never deserved.
– Ramsden: Again poor. Maybe Gary Brown should be given a chance?
– Branston: Bad first half, but improved second half. Loves nothing better than an old-fashioned HOOF.
– McArdle: Short of confidence, should get better with age and when Stanton comes back.
– Kennedy: Good going forward, skinned a few times defence-wise.
– Jones: Not a right-sided player. Not skilful enough.
– Doolan: Not creative today.
– Perkins: Unfortunate to be red-carded. Not a game to remember otherwise.
– Prendergast: Did nothing to suggest Rundle should have been on the bench.
– Dagnall: Ran around, but left to feed on scraps. Won and scored the penalty.
– Murray: Lethargic, unable to win many headers due to persistent referee incompetence.
– Crooks: Not enough time.
– le Fondre: See Crooks.
– Rundle: Came on for two minutes.
Oh, and how bad was the “Bulls Eye” Hereford match programme? £2.50 for that flimsy bit of tat?