Date published: 10 January 2021
Smith Metals Stand
Rochdale staged a rousing second half comeback to draw 3-3 after being three goals down at the half time interval. Crewe looked to have the game wrapped up at the break with three goals in 35 minutes; Oli Finney netting twice, either side of an Owen Dale strike. The comeback was on when Brian Barry-Murphy’s men scored 60 seconds into the second half when Aaron Morley’s cross from the left crept in at the far post with Stephen Humphrys claiming a touch before Matty Lund netted a double to earn Dale an unlikely share of the spoils.
After an enforced layoff because of positive Covid tests within the Rochdale camp, five players returned from injury for this afternoon’s game against in form Crewe. Gavin Bazunu, Ollie Rathbone and Jake Beesley all started whilst Ryan McLaughlin and Paul McShane took their places on the bench.
The visitors were the quickest out of the blocks and took the lead after just six minutes. A slick passing move saw Travis Johnson deliver from the right with Oli Finney cushioning a low volley inside the right-hand post.
Dale responded well to going behind and went close themselves; Humphrys shot deflected over whilst Matty Done’s downward header had Jaaskelainen at full stretch to tip the ball around the post.
Despite a decent response, it was Crewe that would extend their lead midway through the first half. A quick counterattack from Kirk saw the home side struggling to keep pace with and when Kirk sent a square ball to Finney, the midfielder’s deft touch found Owen Dale who made no mistake for Crewe’s second from seven yards out.
The game looked over ten minutes before the break when Crewe scored their third goal. A Rochdale corner resulted in Jimmy Keohane’s shot being blocked with the ball spinning out to Kirk and his pace seeing the home defence struggling to catch up. Eoghan O’Connell, in trying to get back pulled up with what looked a hamstring problem leaving Finney in the area unmarked to slide the ball in for his second of the game. O’Connell limped off; Paul McShane coming on in his place.
Despite the half-time scoreline, Brian Barry-Murphy’s side still believed and whatever was said at the break certainly had the desired effect with Dale starting the comeback 60 seconds into the second period.
Aaron Morley’s measured ball in from the left looked to be creeping in at the back post but Humphrys got the deftest of touches to make sure.
The visitors still looked dangerous with Mandron going close with a poked effort across goal whilst Bazunu had to be alert to block the Frenchman’s close range shot with his chest.
Rochdale reduced the deficit on the hour mark through leading scorer Matty Lund. Humphrys angled shot was pushed out by Jaaskelainen with Rathbone nodding the ball down to Beesley. The summer signing from Solihull Moors saw his turn and shot blocked but his perseverance paid off when he managed to toe poke the ball to Lund who was clinical from the edge of the area.
Crewe thought they had been given a chance to extend their lead when referee Andy Haines awarded them a penalty in the 65th minute for a Beesley handball but overturned his decision after consulting his assistant.
Dale started to look more and more dangerous as they searched for an equaliser. A long ball over the top to Humphrys saw the striker’s lifted shot blocked by the keeper who was well out of his goal; Matty Done’s rasping follow up deflected narrowly wide with the goal at his mercy.
Bazunu tipped an Owen Dale shot onto the post as Crewe looked for a fourth goal to seal the points whilst Rochdale substitute Kwadwo Baah’s driven shot was too hot to handle for Jaaskelainen as he fumbled it behind for a corner from which Dale scored the leveller.
Morley’s deep corner was palmed away by the Crewe goalkeeper but only to Lund who sent an unstoppable shot from the right hand corner of the six yard box into the roof of the net to earn a deserved point for the home side.
It was a thrilling contest to start the new year but the Dale boss will need to stop giving the opposition head starts if they are to climb away from danger at the bottom of the league table.
Rochdale: Bazunu, Keohane (McLaughlin 79), O’Connell ©(McShane 37), Roberts, Done, Lund, Newby (Dooley 68), Morley, Rathbone (Baah 79), Beesley, Humphrys
Substitutes: (not used) Lynch, McNulty, Dunne
Crewe: Jaaskelainen, Pickering ©, Offord, Beckles, Johnson, Wintle, Kirk, Finney, Murphy, Dale, Mandron (Porter 87)
Substitutes: (not used) Richards, Nolan, Sass-Davies, Onyeka, Woodthorpe, Robbins
Referee: Mr A Haines
Assistants: Mr B Gordon & Mr K Mulraine
Fourth Official: Mr A Clayton