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Rob Jones: MOM
Rob Jones: MOM

Four Star Town Motor On

By: Gareth Edwards
Date: 07/12/2005

A fantastic comeback by the Mariners saw them overturn a 1-0 deficit after sixty minutes and pick up a much deserved three points at home.

It was a vital victory for Town who have been searching for some kind of consistency in recent weeks and will now look to string a good run together on the back this win and the away victory at Oxford the previous weekend.

The Mariners line-up had two notable changes from that which was victorious at the Kassam Stadium with the return of both Rob Jones, to the defence which had missed his presence so much in his absence, and also Jean Paul Kalala, in for Gary Cohen in the midfield with Toner moving out wide. Rochdale set out with an attacking mindset, effectively playing 4-3-3 at times with the dangerous front men Grant Holt and Rickie Lambert spearheading the attack. Tony Gallimore also made his return to BP but this time playing as a centre back in a curious decision by Dale manager Steve Parkin.

The Mariners responded with a slice of attacking football of their own and with the extra space in midfield they looked to play it around on the deck a lot more than fans have been recently accustomed. This fresh approach could be seen in Town’s first chance falling to John McDermott but the full back’s effort was saved at the near post by Matt Gilks, where perhaps the veteran should have looked to his support in the box.

Town also constantly threatened from set pieces, especially through Rob Jones and he constantly won headers at both ends of the field, almost feeding Reddy at the far post on one occasion by flicking on a deep free-kick, although the Irishman couldn't react quickly enough. Andy Parkinson was also enjoying the space freed up by the extra man in midfield and set Paul Bolland up for what should have been the opener with a neat inside ball, but the midfielder’s first effort was blocked and his second hit straight at the keeper.

Rochdale did capitalise when they got a chance however and opened the scoring against the run of play, with the two efficient strikers combining well. First, Grant Holt showed strength and skill to hold off Whittle and McDermott and then vision to pick out Lambert lurking at the far post, who was then left with a simple finish from yards out.

Town didn't panic however and continued to put pressure on the Rochdale backline. This was again most evident from set pieces and Rob Jones could count himself extremely unlucky not to score on a number of occasions, with one headed effort being cleared off the line.

The first half ended on a sour note for Town however with John McDermott having to be helped off due to what looked to be a bad ankle injury, which will surely rule him out for a number of weeks. Gary Croft was brought on as a replacement but Russell Slade will be anxious to learn the extent of the injury to the right back.

Half Time: Town 0 Rochdale 1

Having been the better of the two sides in the first half, Town then proceeded to start the second much worse than the opposition. Town seemed to briefly revert back to the much maligned long ball and Rochdale failed to punish this poor start on a number of occasions.

Town then regained their impetus through the introduction of Gary Cohen for Kalala, and Ciaran Toner’s move into the centre and Cohen’s pace out wide saw a definite shift in momentum between the two sides. This was immediately felt when Town grabbed the equaliser on sixty seven minutes, with Michael Reddy being the architect by out muscling his marker and looking up to find Gary Jones for a tap in.

The Mariners then refused to take their foot off the gas and just three minutes later found themselves ahead. Gary Cohen’s endeavour won a corner on the left and this was rewarded when the same man met Tom Newey’s corner, stealing ahead of his marker to nod home. The crowds delight soon turned to ecstasy as Town continued to attack and again this paid dividends. After another Newey set piece was this time cleared, Cohen was able to redeliver the ball back into the box and the ball fell, via a scuff from Michael Reddy, at the feet of Rob Jones who simply hammered it home in front of the Pontoon.

With the final ten minutes being played out professionally by Town, Rochdale through bodies forward but the travelling support were not to see an impressive comeback like their side often produce and their frustration was to be compiled when Reddy broke free in added time to round the keeper for a fourth.

Full Time: Town 4 Rochdale 1

MOM: Rob Jones- showed why he has been missed at both ends by winning everything in the air and being a constant danger at attacking set pieces.

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