17/02/09; Rochdale v Morecambe, Spotland Stadium, Rochdale :: Lg 2
“It went in – I saw it! The music came on! The woman who screams when we score screamed! What do you mean it’s still 1-0?”
Lee Thorpe’s nonchalent non-finish to Nicky Adams incisive pass may be the single moment that encapsulates the story of tonight’s match; all the hard work had been done but the final, killer goal was left un-scored – the cake without icing. And icing’s what we’ve been pretty good at lately.
And for three quarters of the match, Dale offered up some pretty tasty cake too. A back four of Wiseman, McArdle, Ramsden and Kennedy stood in front of Fielding in goal, and sat behind Jonah and Toner in midfield. In front of them Buckley, Thompson, Adams and Dagnall arranged themselves in no particular order – is total football a phrase you can use about bottom division footy? It matters not, it seemed to work, early on at least.
Immediately after kick-off, Scott Wiseman skipped merrily through the gaping holes in Morecambe’s Swiss cheese defence for a good fifteen minutes ’til they realised what he was doing. By that time he’d fired one just over and won two corners. The constantly rotating attack force seemed to scare the visitors and for a while it seemed the result may be a foregone conclusion. But the opener never came, not in the first half. Indeed it was Morecambe who had the first good opportunity as Twiss’s cross skiffered across Scott Wiseman’s head and fortunately ended up going over the bar. Not long after a Gary Hunter daisy-cutter went perilously close but fortunately the cross was left untouched by the Morecambe attack. Scary stuff.
Rochdale went closest to scoring though, just before half-time. Gary Jones, controlling the midfield alongside the excellent Toner, fed through Chris Dagnall who proceeded to hit the post with a low drive. I was already up and celebrating me – little did I know it wouldn’t be the last time I’d be cheering a goal that never happened tonight.
And hence; 0-0 at half-time. Pies and peas were consumed all around me, Golden Gamble tickets checked and ripped-up, and a slightly forlorn looking Pete-On-The-Pitch once again had no takers for the Crossbar Challenge ™. Desmond the Dragon busied himself by trying to hit the post from outside the area, something he was scarily good at, while Oasis’s Lyla clanged out of the tannoy system. All as always.
Rochdale came out with vigour after half-time, and the goal was no suprise. Wiseman’s hopeful cross evaded Bentley and Artell and Will Buckley controlled calmly before placing his shot just wide of Roche’s body. 1-0 Dale. Another goal for “wonder kid” Buckley, a bit lucky if you ask me because he was rubbish before that. Soon after, Ciaran Toner had another long ranger saved by Roche and the Rochdale V8 was purring; fullbacks everywhere, wingers in your face.
But there were hints of Morecambe peeping through. The alarming ease with which Dale sat back when the visitors had possession became more noticeable with time, and when Lee Thorpe came on for Chris Dagnall the tone for the rest of the match was set; one up front, ten defending. Which is unusual and a little bit, well, rubbish, really. You know, this isn’t the Team Rochdale way.
Still time for that one chance though, that one goal that I swear to God I saw hit the back of the net. Nicky Adams, everywhere, broke down the left in a counter-attack and passed inside for Lee Thorpe to calmly put away. 2-0 Dale.
It was five minutes before it struck me. We hadn’t scored. It was still one-nil. “But… the music!” Hah! What does Tannoy Man know?
Inevitably, Morecambe then fucking scored. Rochdale were penned in their own half for the last fifteen minutes, and the constant pressure gave way to a goal – Michael Twix the scorer from a corner that wasn’t cleared fully. Even the keeper went up for it, Sammy McIlroy was going apeshit. And so, 1-1.
Hard to be bitter though. Morecambe never gave up on a match that was never quite in Dale’s grasp, and probably deserved the point. Did we deserve to win? I don’t think I can answer that in honesty. All I know is I’d be a lot happier if Lee Thorpe could bloody well finish.
Written by Matt Boothman on 17th Feb 09