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|Barnes: Saved Town|
The Rot Stops Here. Part 2
By: Ian Townsend
BUCKLEY clearly had something to say about Town’s lack of adventure in the first half as Town came out for the second half with more purpose.
Within the first five minutes Taylor got in good positions on both flanks and Town’s best chance so far came on 48 minutes when Butler reached a cross before the Dale keeper only to see his header carry too far and out for a goal kick. Taylor was causing problems on the shoulder of their defenders and his efforts gained a couple of corners in quick succession.
Town then had a let off as from a corner Llewellyn slipped and the Town central defenders were caught up the park. Within seconds the ball was in the Town box but the Dale forward snatched at his shot and the ball bobbled harmlessly behind for a goal kick.
Over the next few minutes it was Rochdale who took the game by the scruff of the neck and Town were indebted to Barnes as indecision by Hope allowed a shot to come in which Town’s player of last season pushed full length around for a corner. Within a minute he was at it again as he somehow got his hand to a shot from point blank range and managed to push it round the far post.
Town made their first sub. after an hour when North replaced Taylor who left the pitch to warm applause. He immediately made his presence felt as he worked the ball well with Butler with the latter just failing to get a shot in. A minute later North again held up the ball well in the box before going down under a challenge. The Pontoon screamed for a penalty but there were only half hearted appeals from the players. Then from a Rochdale attack Barnes set in motion the best move of the match by Town. He found Llewellyn who in turn found Newey on the overlap. His cross found Butler on the edge of the box but unfortunately his shot was straight at the keeper.
The main talking point for the fans came in the apparent lack of mobility in North who was given a three yard start by a Dale defender and beaten to the ball. This was followed by a through ball which he couldn't chase. It would appear that he is not fully over his fitness problems yet.
The game started to look a little ragged with niggly challenges coming in. Butler and Dale defender Stanton were booked for the worst incident. They were followed by a Dale defender for a very late challenge on Heslop and then as Town appeared to tire Hope blocked his opponent as the ball was played round him.
At this point most Town fans would have settled for a hard earned point but there was still time for a little flutter of the heart as Barnes did well to catch the ball from a free header. The game petered out with only a very late substitution of Till by Bore worthy of report.
Although Rochdale had the clearer chances Town could be well satisfied with the result. A clean sheet against one of the probably better teams (at least on paper) in a game they'd probably have lost last season. A defence that looks to have good potential to be welded into a cohesive unit and the form in flashes of Llewellyn, Butler and Taylor were major positives. On the negative side we didn't appear to have anyone capable of turning the game and everything we created was made by the skill of Butler. I cannot remember anyone else testing the keeper. Those of us who remember the first two Buckley spells know that he likes to build a side from the back. There were signs that he is on the road to achieving that with the current squad of players.
Man of the Match: The sponsors gave it to Hunt for his harassing and tackling. I personally thought Butler just shaded it for his refusal to give up and the way he tried to take the game to Rochdale.
Heslop looked perhaps not surprisingly off the pace but will get better with more games under his belt.
The rot HAS been stopped. Here’s to even better in the weeks to come.
Final Score: Town 0 Rochdale 0
Attendance 4,213 (Away fans 696)
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