2 March 2010 7.45pm
Rotherham United were outplayed as Rochdale extended their lead at the top of the table this evening at Spotland
Yet, it was the Millers who had the home side penned back for the first minutes of the game. Kevin Ellison had a shot that went narrowly wide and for ten minutes the visitors played some good passing football but couldn't create an opening. Then, on nine minutes, former Miller, Chris O'Grady put in a cross for strike partner, Chris Dagnell who slammed the ball past Andy Warrington for the first goal. And Dale could have doubled the lead two minutes later when a free kick taken by Tom Kennedy found Craig Dawson's head and only a brilliant save from Warrington stopped it going in the net. At the other end, Nick Fenton rose above everyone only for Fielding to save the ball at the second attempt and a minute later Fielding managed to turn a Josh Walker shot from distance, round the post. From the corner, Gavin Gunning got a header in but it went wide and a few minutes later Tom Pope put a cross in for Ellison whose shot was again turned round the post by Fielding. Soon after that the Millers lost skipper, Ian Sharps, to what appears to be a hamstring injury and after that they never really got back into the game. O'Grady was allowed to run free with the Millers' defence not able to cope with him and in the final minutes of the first half he won a free-kick for Rochdale. Kennedy took the kick and Warrington again produced a good save to keep him out.
In the opening minutes of the second half, Danny Harrison had a shot on goal that was well saved by Fielding and from the resulting corner Adam Le Fondre, back at his old club for the first time since joining the Millers, had a shot headed off the line by Kennedy. But Rochdale were the ones who were pushing forward and Gary Jones had a shot that went just over the crossbar Harrison made a last ditch tackle on Kennedy to deny him a shooting chance. Just after the hour mark the pressure paid off when an O'Grady pass into the area was sliced by Gunning only to hit the shins of the unfortunate Jamie Green and go into the back of the net. When that should have been the time for the Millers to start pushing forward they just rolled over and died and, when seven minutes later Craig Dawson headed in the third and the fourth was scored by O'Grady just two minutes later as he wandered past the Millers defence into the penalty area and put the ball past Warrington, no one was really surprised. If not for a double save from Warrington, five minutes from time, the score would have been much worse. The Millers' shot stopped palmed away a strike from Gary Jones and quickly got up to deny Dagnell his second of the match and in time added on he made another good save from Rory McArdle.
Words, tonight, fail me after seeing that performance. Rochdale weren't the best side I've seen this season, by a long way, but we made them look good - we let their midfield run the show and never closed anyone down. Ronnie Moore's tactics have to be questioned this evening.