Under-18s end season in defeat
The young side featured a number of U16’s and took an early lead through Lifumpa Mwandwe. Rochdale equalised soon after though through Fabio Tavares. Town had chances to take the lead before half time, but a strong goalkeeping display from Wade kept the score level at the break. Rochdale took the lead 15 minutes into the second through Tavares. Town almost pulled one back from the restart with Barnett forcing a strong save from Wade. The youthful Town side fought hard to equalise after a strong performance by Sam Agius kept them in the game throughout the second. Rochdale sealed the win in the 86th minute though, with Captain Morley’s strike from outside the box making it 3-1.
Town: 1 Sam Agius, 2 Zac Hartley, 3 Rhys Davies, 4 James Rowland, 5 Brett Taylor, 6 Luke Ward, 7 Reiss Corfield (Dan Walker, 65), 8 Ryan Grosvenor, 9 Archie Elmore, 10 Ryan Barnett (C), 11 Lifumpa Mwandwe
Subs: 13 Bevan Jaden, 14 Dan Walker, 15 Tom Davies, 16 Ethan O’Toole, 17 Whalley Beckham.
Rochdale: 1 Bradley Wade, 2 Luke Matheson, 3 Nathaniel Appiam, 4 Aaron Morely (C), 5 James Neild, 6 Isaac Ward, 7 Harrison Hopper, 8 Florent Hoti, 9 Fabio Tavares, 10 Daniel Adshead, 11 Neil Kuemo.
Subs: 12 Lewis Bradley, 14 Louis White, 16 Florian Yonsian, 18, Musambia Kisimba, 15 Adejuwov Hamzat.
An early cross from Rochdale forced a strong defensive header from Luke Ward to clear the danger. Town took the lead in the third minute after a looped ball forward found Corfield in with space wide right. Reiss curled a perfect ball across the pitch to find Mwandwe breaking through the middle. Fumpa made no mistake with the early chance, slotting past Wade to give town the lead.
Rochdale almost pulled one back from the kick off. Finding space out wide, a well-placed cross came in towards Hoti at the far post, his header just wide. In the 6th minute Rochdale found their equaliser through Tavares. The forward found space on the right side of the box before pulling the trigger quickly, slipping his shot low past Agius.
Rochdale enjoyed the better of the chances following in the opening stages following the goal. Tavares did well to find Kuemo in the box. The attacker spun quickly to find the space to shoot but a strong challenge from Hartley saw the ball blocked wide. Moments later, another clever ball into the box fell for Tavares who did well to hold it up before laying back to Hoti on the edge. Hoti looked to hit it first time but his shot curled over the bar.
Town worked hard to break forward and tenacious work down the right from Hartley to win two challenges before looking to slip Grosvenor in down the right. Rochdale were alert though and cut out the pass.
On the half hour mark Mwandwe skipped past his man on the left before looking to pull it back across goal. The challenge came in quickly though, setting Rochdale on the counter. A strong tackle from Brett Taylor stopped the attack.
James Rowland linked up with Mwandwe on the left before wriggling his free on the edge of the box. His shot looked to be curling into the top right corner but curved just wide. Moments later following a quickly taken goal kick, Rowlands was back in his own box to clear a dangerous Rochdale attack.
Elmore did well in the fortieth minute to hold the ball up field allowing Town to get forward. He found Mwandwe who darted towards the edge of the box before pulling the trigger with a powerful shot towards the bottom left corner. Wade was equal to it though, diving early to make a strong save.
As the half drew to an end, Town had fought hard to retake the lead. Barnett found space 30 yards from goal and decided to hit one. The shot looked to be bending towards the top right corner forcing another exceptional save from Wade.
Half Time: Rochdale 1 Town 1
Rochdale were first to create a chance in the second with Kuemo breaking into the box. An excellently timed challenge came in from Brett Taylor to put the attacker off seeing the shot glance wide for a goal kick.
A strong defensive header from Ward following a corner almost presented Corfield with the chance to counter, all for an awkward bobble to take the ball away from him. Moments later, Rochdale came close through Kuemo after his low shot found the outside of the post rebounding wide.
Rochdale took the lead in the 60th minute through Tavares. Morely set Rochdale on the counter before strong link up play between Tavares and Matheson lead to Tavares’ low shot finding the bottom right corner.
Town bounced back after the goal and almost equalised three minutes later through Barnett. The skipper used his turn of pace to spring free on the right of the box before hitting a strong shot across goal forcing a strong save from Wade.
Substitution: Corfield was replaced by Walker in the 65th minute.
Sam Agius did exceptionally well to stop Tavares bagging his hat-trick. Finding himself in a similar position to his second, Tavares looked certain to score forcing a strong save from Agius to keep Town in the game.
Town had a strong shout for a red card in the 83rd after Mwandwe skipped in behind the back four. Fumpa was taken out from behind by the last man as he approached the box. The ref awarded Town the free-kick but brandished a yellow card for the challenge, which could have easily seen red. The resulting free-kick deflected off the wall before being cleared.
As Town pressed, Rochdale hit on the counter finding themselves one on one with Agius. The keeper did well to come off his line early and fearlessly boot the ball to safety.
Rochdale sealed the win in the 86th minute. The ball fell kindly for Captain Aaron Morley on the edge of the box who made no mistake striking a low shot into the back of the net to make it 3-1.
Town refused to lie down and in the final moments, Barnett worked the space on the right before looking to hit one. The shot drifting just wide of the post.
Full Time: Rochdale 3 Town 1