28/2/09; Rochdale v Grimsby Town, Spotland Stadium, Rochdale :: Lg 2
Not a drop of rain to be seen, not a whisper of breeze to be felt.
Just cloud. Thick, white cloud.
But wait! Something is peering through the cloud. Slowly the image takes form, unclear at first, but brighter all the time. Clambering its way through dense layers of water vapour…
No. Not possible…
But what else can it be? Surely…?
The season so far has felt at times a little like a procession towards a sixth or seventh place finish. This week’s results though… is there only me getting a little carried away? This could be it. 2009. Our year. A little bit frightening isn’t it?
We should, collectively, all feel a bit more excited; at least that’s the way I see it. Numb with victory? You could say that. Since Hill’s arrival in 2006, victory is pretty much all Dale fans have known. It’s almost perverse.
Time to forget though, and time to believe. 2009. This could be it.
Rochdale played Grimsby Town today and lined up in the 4-4-2 which finished the game (and the opposition) at Darlington. Fielding started in net, behind a back four made up of Wiseman, Stanton, Ramsden and Kennedy; Toner and Keltie marshalled the midfield with Rundle and Adams on the flanks, whilst le Fondre and Thorpe began up front. McArdle, Buckley, Dagnall, McEvilly and Thompson were the substitutes.
Trevor Kettle whistled and the match began. Almost immediately Dale were into their stride. Adams and Rundle flitted about, swerving, tricking, beguiling, feeding off the knock-downs and lay-offs of the thankfully fit-again Thorpe. Le Fondre too, revitalised since his spell on the bench, ran and ran and ran. Too easy. Penalty, ref? No – Keltie fell over.
Rundle flitted still, and further, and further; inside he flitted and drew the Mariners defence. On his unfavoured right, Rundle shot, the ball was deflected and Wayne Henderson watched it go in the opposite corner. 1-0.
More Dale – these Grimsby lot don’t know what they’re up against. Thorpe headed. Thorpe headed. Thorpe back-heeled. Thorpe; brilliant!
12 minutes gone, Kennedy booted it and le Fondre chased, at least three yards ahead of Atkinson and Bennett. Offside? Nope – Alfie was in his own half. He kept on. Henderson didn’t want to save it. 2-0, side-footed past the goalkeeper.
“Siddown Newell, you bell-end”
Grimsby Town weren’t all bad, Proudlock prodded it tactfully, Forbes found space between Kennedy and Ramsden, but they were blown away by Dale’s first twenty minutes. They had a man who looked like Michael Essien too, Jean-Paul Kalala. When Grimsby did get the ball, Kalala was efficient in laying off full-backs Clarke and Newey, but neither Hegarty, Sinclair or Jarman showed much nous going forward. Their best players? all loanees. But unlike Hereford last year, these lot aren’t winning.
Half an hour gone, Keltie pinged it and Rundle shot over the bar. And down the other end, Grimsby awoke. Clarke skipped inside on the right, skipped right into the area, passed it to Forbes and Forbes belted it from close-range. Improbably, Fielding palmed it onto the bar and out for a corner. Grimsby delivered and Ramsden headed it away.
Newell was still gnawing at Kettle. Grimsby grieving, Rochdale relentless.
Half-time, and a bizarre message over the tannoy. “Will the referee’s assessor please make his way to the tunnel immediately”. Immediately? And then a woman called Jill did the Crossbar Challenge in ugg boots. And a mascot called Joey the Kangaroo appeared and started chasing Desmond the Dragon. And Bury were losing! And Bradford were losing! And Shrewsbury too!
That prick Newell didn’t come out in the second half, he sat in the stand with a man called Geoff and a face like thunder.
The Mariners brought Boshell on for Sinclair and brought their defenders right up to the half-way line. They probed and picked at Dale but didn’t have a shot on target. Grimsby attacked but couldn’t, Rochdale could but didn’t. The nil was looking fairly safe.
Even the fantastically named substitute Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro couldn’t rummage up an opportunity; he scrambled, he twisted, he flicked it nonchalently with his instep through his legs. But he didn’t shoot. There’s just something missing about them Mariners.
Rochdale sat back and soaked up the Grimsby sauce. When the ball was released, Thorpe jumped. Foul. Thorpe jumped. Foul. Thorpe didn’t jump. Foul. Thorpe went off and McEvilly came on. McEvilly jumped. No foul! Aah, Kettle you old dog.
Grimsby visibly tired of the constant attacking. Stuart Elliott came on for Newey but Ramsden and Stanton stood firm, repelling each Grimsby wave with increasing confidence. The away team began to sit back. Tackles stopped getting won by Kalala. Keltie sprayed. Kettle stopped whistling. And sub Dagnall missed from about five yards.
And the whistle blew, 2-0, it was over.
And now we’re second. Second for God’s sake! Are you not at least a bit excited??!
Written by Matt Boothman on 28/2/09