Rochdale 0-1 Chesterfield

Rochdale 0
Chesterfield 1 (Leven 89)

Dale team: Spencer, Ramsden, Stanton, McArdle, Perkins, Higginbotham (Muirhead), Basham, Jones, Rundle, Thorpe (Buckley), Howe (le Fondre).

It was not a good day for the Church of Rochdale AFC. Many diehard followers had spoken the good word to the townsfolk and invited them to a special service held by Rev. Keith Hill at Spotland Cathedral, Saturday, three o’ clock. Reverend Hill had been preaching for weeks, telling his followers that enlightenment was still on the cards, and that he and his flock would be reaching a higher place come May…

Unfortunately, most people in the town of Rochdale think that Hill and his followers are delusional or deranged (or both). Church attendance today was slightly higher than usual, but only by the tiniest amount, and those outsiders that did come no doubt went away unconverted. It was not a good day for Reverend Hill.

I went to Dale today with hope in my heart and gloves on my hands. Quite cold, but no rain. I had a look around the stadium. There seemed to be exactly the same amount of people in it compared to every other Saturday. In fact, up until about five minutes before kick-off, it looked as if there may be less than usual – but thankfully it filled out a little. Let us not miss the point though, today’s “Fan Drive” was a massive failure. I just don’t think the town actually gives a shit about it’s team, and today’s paltry crowd proved that.

Today Rochdale has disappointed me more than any other day. I am despondant, miserable and irritable. Not because of the football (although it was 90 minutes of unthreatening mediocrity), but because today highlighted our sorry situation. Fans, real die-hard Dale fans handed out thousands of vouchers for today’s game. Probably between 300 and 400 extra fans made their way through the turnstiles. Pissing in the wind.

If the first Parkin era taught us anything, it’s that good performances and home wins bring fans in. Fan days, vouchers, incentives; all that jazz doesn’t make the slightest bit of difference. The one and only way to increase home support (and therefore turnover) is to make us play better. I may be stating the obvious, as many Dale fans on the message-boards and in the stands have been, but we’re not scoring because we’ve sold our top-scorer and replaced him with Lee Thorpe. It’s like trading in your Playstation 3 for an Amiga. Fair play to Lee – he took a gamble by joining Dale on a shorter contract than his Brentford one. But unfortunately he is rubbish.

We matched a poor Chesterfield today, in a dire affair conducted in a funeral-like atmosphere with little or no reason to be cheerful. Basham, on loan from Bolton, played well. I suppose that was something to be thankful for. Some of the others didn’t play badly – Stanton was good again, Ramsden solid.

Thorpe missed our best chance of the match, his header from a superb Higginbotham cross went just over the bar. It was an easy chance, especially for a man with a big head like Thorpe. McArdle probably had our other decent chance, but his tap-in was struck weakly and was easily cleared of the line. To be fair, he isn’t a striker and it did come at him a bit fast, butstill. As far as other Dale chances went… nothing else to report Sir!

Chesterfield’s goal came very late on. Stanton shoved the Spirite attacker to the ground just outside of the area and got a yellow for his trouble. Free-kick. A goal was inevitable. When the resultant shot hit the wall (and I don’t mean McArdle), I was as suprised as anyone. Unfortunately, we failed to clear the ball sufficiently and Perkins was judged to have fouled someone less than 10 seconds later, in a similar position. It wasn’t a foul, but whatever, I can’t be arsed telling you why it wasn’t. Free-kick. A goal was yet again inevitable. The shot went in. Peter Leven, 89th minute. Bollocks.

And so I trudged home, speaking not a word, barely looking up. Again.

Final thoughts? Murray was good. £300k was too good to refuse. Replacements are poor. Result is continued stay in League Two. I think everyone can see this. Can you, Mr Dunphy?

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