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Humbled By Rochdale
By: Richard Lord
FORMER Grimsby Town defender Simon Ramsden came back to haunt his old team by scoring a brace in a comprehensive 4-0 win for Rochdale at Blundell Park this afternoon.
The Mariners were without Justin Whittle and Gary Croft, which meant another reshuffle in defence. John McDermott was drafted in at right back, with Newey and Fenton in the middle, and a start for Danny Boshell at left back.
Manager Alan Buckley once again chose to rotate his central midfielders, this time choosing Gary Harkins to start alongside Anthony Pulis, with Till and Hegarty on the wings.
Isaiah Rankin and Martin Paterson continued their partnership up front, with Danny North and Michael Reddy on the bench. Joining them were Paul Bolland, Ricky Ravenhill and keeper Rob Murray.
As on Saturday at Stockport the Mariners started brightly, and Hegarty could've grabbed a goal as early as the third minute but his tame header from a Paterson cross was straight at the keeper.
Paterson then had a go himself from outside the area, but his left foot shot was comfortably tipped over by Rochdale keeper Matthew Gilkes. A couple of minutes later Harkins latched on to a Newey free kick but he could only find the midriff of Gilkes.
Rochdale's Adam Rundle tested Phil Barnes from 16 yards but the keeper made a good save and parried it to safety. Town were failing to clear their lines and Chris Dagnall saw his shot pull wide.
The visitors broke the deadlock on 12 minutes when Simon Ramsden was allowed to control and hook a clever left-footed volley over the stranded Barnes and into the far corner of the net.
Five minutes later the ex-Town defender was booked when he pulled back Rankin as the striker threatened to get away down the left. Rory McArdle was booked minutes later for a mistimed challenge on Paterson.
Town were enjoying plenty of possession but they struggled to do anything with the ball. Rochdale's direct play down the channels was a constant threat, and Barnes was called into action on the half hour when he held a Glenn Murray shot underneath the bar.
Barnes then saved from Rundle before Paterson tested Gilkes with a shot from the edge of the area. Paterson was looking to shoot on sight but was dropping deeper into midfield to receive the ball.
In the second minute of first half injury time Rochdale doubled their lead when a corner wasn't properly cleared and John Doolan's cross from the right was nodded in at the far post by Murray.
At half time Buckley decided to take off the ineffective Pulis and Hegarty, replacing them with Bolland and North. The young striker looked to be taking up the left wing position.
Town began the second half well, with Till, Rankin and Paterson linking up on the right. The end product was lacking, although they managed to win a couple of corners that Fenton could only head wide.
Paterson then drove his way through midfield and burst into the clear, but his shot was saved superbly by Gilkes, whose fingertips turned the ball round the near post.
Rochdale broke and Dagnall placed a right-footed shot just wide of the far post with Barnes stood watching. Murray had half a chance but blazed his shot over the bar.
On the hour mark Paterson saw his effort go wide when he found space down the left. Buckley threw on Reddy for the tiring Rankin but five minutes later Rochdale were three up. Dagnall flicked a cross to the unmarked Rundle, who smashed home past Barnes from eight yards out.
With 25 minutes remaining the home fans began streaming out of the ground. Town were finding the swirling wind difficult to cope with, and Barnes' clearances weren't finding the half way line - or a black and white shirt.
Rochdale threatened every time they picked the ball up from Barnes' clearances, and it seemed only a matter of time before the fourth goal arrived.
And on 71 minutes a corner from the left found Ramsden arriving late, and the defender scored his second of the game in his 100th professional appearance.
The 25-year old had only ever scored one goal before today's game in his entire career, and that came against Grimsby last season in a 2-2 draw at Spotland.
Town simply couldn't deal with Rochdale's attacks, and with plenty of time left on the clock a lot of the remaining fans left to avoid witnessing further embarrassment.
The Mariners failed to work Gilkes after the fourth goal, and after three minutes of injury time the referee blew his whistle to end a bitterly disappointing day for Alan Buckley and his men.
It's now four defeats out of the last five, and with Macclesfield and Accrington both winning, it means the Mariners are now only three points above the drop zone.
In the light of Chester's involvement in the FA Cup third round next week, Town's next game is on Monday 15th when they travel to league leaders Walsall.
On the evidence of today's match, Buckley will be desperate to have Croft, Whittle and Fenton available at the back, with Paul Bolland at 100% and Gary Jones available for selection after his four match ban when he takes his team to the Bescott Stadium in two weeks' time.
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