08/08/09; Port Vale v Rochdale, at Vale Park, Burslem :: Fizzy Pop League Two
Well, the day had finally come, the countdown was over. I set off raring to go with butterflies in my stomach. The butterflies soon disappeared with the 2 ½ hour journey to Port Vale (yes – 2 ½ hours!) as I have no sense of direction. After finding my parking space, and rushing into the ground I finally took my seat. I glanced over to my left to see the 716 visiting Dale fans buzzing with excitement.
I watched the home and away sides enter the pitch from the tunnel below, Rochdale adorned in a kit that looked ready to be squeezed for Ribena, and Vale sporting black and white. Kenny Arthur in net, Tom Kennedy, Scott Wiseman, Nathan Stanton and Craig Dawson making up the back line, Captain Gary Jones and Jason Kennedy patrolling midfield, Joe Thompson and Adam Rundle on the left and right and finally Will Buckley and Chris Dagnall up front. The bench was populated by Matthew Edwards, Adam Le Fondre, Ciaran Toner, Jon Shaw, Kallum Higginbotham, Marcus Holness and Chris Brown.
After a mintue’s applause for Bobby Robson, and a chorus of ‘there’s only one Bobby Robson’ from both sets of fans, the whistle blew and off we went. Dale kept a positive approach and maintained control throughout, not helped Vale’s pushing, shoving and Geoff Horsfield shoving his hand into Scott Wiseman’s face which seemed to go pretty much unnoticed by everyone. A few shots on goal gave me the “half jump” syndrome with Will Buckley’s corner, a great cross into Joe Thompson from Tom Kennedy and a good attempt from Chris Dagnall.
Half Time 0 – 0.
The whistle came from referee J Waugh to commence the second half. After a good few minutes of giving and taking the ball without producing anything productive, Joe Thompson earned a much deserved goal in the 65th minute much to the relief of the fans and management alike. A tense moment came soon after when the ball hit the back of Dale’s net, the Vale fans were overjoyed only to be hit by the realisation that the linesman was holding out his flag. Goal disallowed. Alfie joined Dale wearing his trade mark long sleeves (in the blazing heat) replacing Will Buckley.
A penalty was awarded in the 75th minute for an apparent hand-ball by Stanton in the area. The home side, in the form of Marc Richards, took the opportunity and fired the ball passed Kenny Arther to equalise. A tense 15 minutes followed with an additional 3 minutes of extra time (which seemed to last forever) with both teams fighting for the extra two points, however, neither team seemed to be able to break through.
A frustrating game that should have earned Dale three points, Joe Thompson was on excellent form and produced some great football once again.
Written by Jo Partington on 9th August 2009.