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  • Writer's pictureTim Parks

REPORT | Rochdale 3-0 Wealdstone

Shell-shocked Wealdstone were blown away by three first half goals on the club’s first ever visit to Rochdale.

The Lancashire side, relegated from EFL League Two last year, were beaten 3-2 at the Vale in November but any whimsical hopes of a first ‘double’ of the season evaporated in the February mist as Dale’s will-of-the-wisp winger Cian Hayes struck twice in first half injury time.

To be honest, the rampant home side could have been 4-0 up by then.

The fast and powerful Kairo Mitchell was again a thorn in Stones’ flesh, and after the overworked Marcus Dewhurst had fielded two early efforts from the striker he was relieved to see his third effort - a header - plough into the side netting.

The left-wing interplay of D’Mani Mellor and wingback Cameron John was opening up the visitors’ defence and Mellor’s low 25 yarder on the 25 minute mark brought a great sprawling save from Dewhurst with the keeper springing up to also block the second attempt from Mitchell.

Rochdale won five corners as the pressure ratcheted up midway through the half and from the last Mitchell leapt above Charlie Barker and Jack Cook and seemed certain to score until denied by another remarkable point-blank block from Dewhurst.

But the opening goal was only delayed for a matter of moments as Ethan Ebanks-Landell rose at the far post to sidefoot past Dewhurst from close range - despite Wealdstone complaints that the Rochdale number six was offside.

Stones were then spared when a clever freekick from Ryan East - played into the feet of Mitchell - saw Dewhurst bring off another sprawling save. The rebound was converted by the alert Mitchell but  the assistant’s flag went up to save Wealdstone blushes.

And moments later Rochdale, in total command at this stage, thought they’d finally scored the second goal when Mitchell somehow headed over the crossbar from close range following even more heroics from Dewhurst. Moments later and remarkably it was Dewhurst to the rescue once again as he blocked a fierce low drive from Cian Hayes.

On the 35-minute mark Wealdstone finally managed to apply some pressure through the lively Tarryn Allarakhia and Jaydn Mundle-Smith who saw his shot blocked for a corner.

Then Brandon Mason floated in a terrific cross with Corie Andrews only just failing to connect in front of an open goal.

But Rochdale were undeniably on top, and when Ryan East broke the Wealdstone press moments from the half time whistle his deep cross from the left was headed against the post by Mitchell - and Hayes eagerly snapped up the rebound for 2-0.

And as if it couldn’t get any worse for the Stones, Rochdale netted a third in the second minute of injury time when Hayes again scampered down the right and his wicked cross dropped over the despairing Dewhurst into the far corner.

Stones manager David Noble brought on Alex Dyer and Mason Barrett to replace the misfiring Aaron Henry and skipper Cook at halftime, and his men came out a transformed side.

Tarryn Allarakhia so nearly brought the visitors back into the game with a clever, swinging left footer that bounced back into play off Rochdale‘s left-hand post.

And, with Stones now in the ascendancy, Rochdale were trapped in their own half for 15 minutes.

But they suddenly exploded into life with man of the match Hayes bringing another smart save from Dewhurst.

The ball squirted out from his grasp but Mellor, following up, astonishingly ballooned the ball over the crossbar.

Max Kretzschmar had come on as substitute for the increasingly isolated Corie Andrews and he produced Stones final effort of the game after 70 minutes, forcing a good low save from Tiernan Brooks in the Rochdale goal after Jaydn Mundle-smith and Dyer had created the opening.

David Noble now takes his embattled, 18th-placed team on a vital trip to York City (20th) on Saturday, only out of the relegation places on goal difference though having two or three games in hand on their rivals.

“We’ve just to get back on the horse and win some points, and quickly” he said.

WEALDSTONE: Dewhurst, Cook (c) (Barrett 46), Barker, Mundle-Smith, Seaman, Mason, Young, Henry (Dyer 46), Ferguson, Allarakhia, Andrews (Kretzschmar 62).

Subs not used: Bowen, Cook-Appiah.

Attendance: 1,836 (including 81 Wealdstone supporters)

Report by Tim Parks


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