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21:57 8th March 2011


Town got back to winning ways with a hard earned 2-1 victory over fellow promotion challengers, Rochdale.

Benik Afobe's first League goal of his Town career set things going for the Terriers who doubled their advantage in the 32nd minute courtesy of a superb chipped effort from Gary Roberts. The Terriers had to see out a nervy couple of final minutes when Gary Jones reduced the deficit, however, they were unable to draw level meaning Town picked up all three points.

Lee Clark made four changes to the team that drew with Yeovil on the weekend. The most notable of those was the return of Alex Smithies in the Town goal following his injury against Walsall - Ian Bennett dropped out of the 18 with a suspected injury.

Town started the game brightly through their usual suspects Gary Roberts and Anthony Pilkington. And it was the latter who was the first to test the Dale defence, however, he was well challenged by Marcus Holness who cleared the danger well.

Rochdale's first effort on goal came in the six minute when Jason Kennedy fired a shot over Alex Smithies' bar from 30 yards.

The Dale kept the ball well following Kennedy's interception and had Town penned in their own 18 yard box for a number of minutes, however, they were unable to create any clear cut chances and the Terriers eventually cleared.

Referee Miller was doing his best to infuriate the Town fans and following a corner he gave to Rochdale - which seemingly did not hit a Town player - they created their best chance of the game. A Brian Barry-Murphy corner was excellent attacked by Chris O'Grady and his header from 8 yards was superbly saved by the returning Smithies.

Town attacked immediately from Smithies' save and Benik Afobe went close to forcing Owain Fon Williams into his first save of the game - sadly his header from a Jack Hunt cross went narrowly over the Welshman's goal.

GOAL - Benik Afobe opened his League account for the Terriers in the 25th minute, lashing home a loose ball from 7 yards out. Gary Roberts received the ball out on the left and swung a dangerous ball into Dale's box. After failing to clear the initial ball, Benik Afobe showed excellent reactions to collect the loose ball and fire past a hapless Williams to the delight of the home fans.

GOAL - Town doubled their advantage in the 32nd minute courtesy of a superb solo effort from Town's winger Gary Roberts. After stealing the ball from the Rochdale defence 25 yards out, 'Robbo' cut inside a Dale defender and with superb poise and balance effortlessly chipped the ball over Williams who was unable to get a hand to the ball despite his despairing dive. 'Robbo's' eleventh goal of the season was arguably one of the best seen at the Stadium this campaign.

Rochdale responded well to going two behind and forced Smithies into his second save of the night in the 41st minute when after a marauding run, Gary Jones fired a 20 yard shot straight into the hands of Town's 'keeper.

SUB - In the 43rd minute Antony Kay - who had made the Football League's 'Team of the Week' after his recent performances - was replaced by Jamie McCombe. Kay looked to have suffered an ankle injury and was taken straight down the tunnel.

Town were let off the hook on the stroke of half time when some indecisive play from Peter Clarke and Stephen Jordan allowed Gary Jones to bundle in-between the pair and have an effort on goal - luckily for the Terriers his effort came back off the post and was cleared sharply by Jordan.


Both teams resumed following the half time interval with neither manager making any changes.

Rhodes was the first Town player to have an effort on goal in the second half - his 12 yard header from a Roberts cross was well over the Dale's 'keeper's goal.

After winning their first corner of the half in the 49th minute; Rochdale caused a melee in the Town penalty area and nearly found a way back into the game, however, Hunt was on hand to clear Holness' header off the line.

The Dale continued their bright start to the half and in the 53rd minute Will Atkinson fired a half-volley wide from 12 yards out.

SUB - Town made their second change of the game in the 57th minute when Lee Clark replaced Jordan Rhodes with Danny Cadamarteri.

SUB - Lee Clark was forced to make his third change of the night in the 64th minute when Anthony Pilkington suffered what looked like a serious leg injury and was replaced by Alan Lee. The switch meant that Cadamarteri went out on to the right wing and Lee joined Afobe in attack.

The Dale started the better following the break in play with Smithies having to display excellent catching abilities to thwart the threat that Rochdale posed from wide deliveries.

Rochdale continued to dominate proceedings with around twenty minutes left on the clock; however, they were unable to break down a resolute Town defence lead by skipper Peter Clarke and 'keeper Alex Smithies.

SUB - Keith Hill made his first change of the night in the 76th minute replacing the former Terrier Liam Dickinson with Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro.

Town produced their first effort on goal in the second half when Afobe showed electric pace to glide past Holness and into the Dale box. As Dawson came across to cover, Afobe took his opportunity and fired a shot at goal, which was well palmed away by Williams.

The Terriers were defending admirable all over the pitch as the clocked ticked down, even Afobe was getting in on the act - blocking excellently from a Chris O'Grady effort.

As Rochdale searched for a way back into the game, Town were exploiting the spaces left in their defence. In the third minute of injury time Cadamarteri showed fantastic pace to beat his marker and fire a shot on goal, the winger's effort was blocked well with the rebound falling to Lee who fired high over Williams' bar.

GOAL - Rochdale's Gary Jones scored the Dale's first goal of the night late in injury time. The ball rebounded to the midfielder following an excellent defensive block from Peter Clarke. Without hesitation Jones fired the ball past Smithies thanks to deflection of a Town defender.

Town had to see out a nervy couple of minutes and had Alex Smithies to thank for a superb one-handed save from Chris O'Grady.


Town's team (4-4-2):

Alex Smithies; Stephen Jordan, Peter Clarke (c), Antony Kay (Jamie McCombe 43), Jack Hunt; Anthony Pilkington (Alan Lee 64), Kevin Kilbane, Scott Arfield, Gary Roberts, Benik Afobe, Jordan Rhodes (Danny Cadamarteri 57)

Substitutes: Nick Colgan, Chris Atkinson, Tom Clarke, Lee Novak.




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