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22:16 28th September 2010


Town bossed the majority of tonight's game at Spotland against newly promoted Rochdale, but could not find a goal as they worked hard to get back into the clash having fallen behind early on. In the end the hard work was in vain, as the home side scored two late goals to give the game a bizarre feel.

Lee Clark's side carved the home side open on various occasions - particularly in the second-half - but somehow the home side kept the ball out of their net and two goals within the final three minutes gave the scoreline a lopsided look.

Town, in a new combination of red and black striped shirts with black shorts and black socks, started brightly and launched a great attack within the opening three minutes. A one-two between Arfield and Pilkington set the winger away down the right flankand when he played the ball into the area it looked like things had opened up momentarily for Joe Garner at the near post, but in the end the 'keeper did well to turn his shot around the post.

Garner shot tamely wide from long range barely a minute later, but the signs were good for the magnificent travelling support of almost 3,300.

Rochdale's first attack was launched in the sixth minute when skipper Gary Jones embarked upon an enterprising run down the Town right before crossing, but Alex Smithies gathered the ball in at the first attempt on the edge of his six yard box.

GOAL - However, the home side took the lead a minute later through a set-piece converted by Jason Kennedy. Damien Johnson fouled home skipper Jones in the far right corner to concede a free-kick and when midfielder Brian Barry-Murphy whipped the ball in towards the far post it was nodded back across goal for the unmarked midfielder to tap home from extremely close range.

The home side were visibly buoyed by their opener and took the game to the Terriers for the next seven or eight minutes, but Town were soon back on the attack and Jordan Rhodes took a visible nudge from a defender inside the Rochdale area in the 16th minute as he looked to latch onto a clever flick from Garner; however, the striker stayed on his feet and the referee wasn't interested.

Lee Clark's side started passing the ball well again and a patient passage of play created a decent chance for Graham Carey in the 21st minute. Pilkington - who had been lively in the opening stages - found the overlapping Peltier down the right and when he drilled the ball low towards the edge of the box, the left winger placed a shot narrowly wide of the 'keeper's far post with his weaker right foot.

Referee Mr. Hegley then gave a bizarre 25th minute decision after defender Marcus Holness - who was arguably the last man - tripped Anthony Pilkington just inside the home half; he pulled the defender over, but didn't even book him!

Town had the wind in their sails by this point and after Carey had another shot blocked inside the area, Peltier fired a cross-come-shot wide of the far post.

Moments later the Town faithful thought that Scott Arfield had equalised for their side after he picked up a pass from midfield partner Damien Johnson and drove at the heart of the home defence, but his 25-yard drive arrowed inches wide of the 'keeper's right hand post with the custodian at full stretch.

The Terriers were the prominent attacking side as the game reached the half-hour mark, but the home outfit still carried their own threat and goalscorer Kennedy hit a powerful shot wide of goal in the 32nd minute.

A Gary Jones snapshot three minutes later was easy fodder for Smithies, but at the other end the Town fans were becoming increasingly frustrated as Joe Garner was getting no help from the man in the middle while coming under increasingly robust challenges from the Dale defence. Moments later Arfield went down in the six yard box after it looked like his shirt was pulled, but once more the referee waved away the protests.

Rhodes looped a header from Garner's right wing cross straight into the waiting hands of Josh Lillis as the half drew to a close and it was Clark's side who were making the running as the referee blew his whistle, with Pilkington blasting high over the bar from 25 yards in the last meaningful Town attack of the half.

In the last few seconds youngster Joe Thompson showed good pace for the home side to get around the outside of McCombe, but Smithies turned his near post pot-shot away.


Rochdale launched an early attack from a corner when the game got back underway, but big defender Josh Thompson was adjudged to have been climbing on a Town player to reach the delivery.

The Terriers were back on the attack in the 48th minute when a long throw from Peltier fell to Arfield in the area; his initial shot was well blocked and when the ball dropped into the path of Jordan Rhodes, he fired over from fifteen yards.

Rhodes was then awarded a free-kick seconds later after defender Dawson barged him in the back, but Graham Carey struck his 30-yard drive around two feet over the crossbar.

Carey was suddenly pivotal and after receiving a good low pass from full back Ridehalgh he took on a defender and fired a superb ball across the face of goal - but no one could get the vital touch to get Town back in the game.

The Irishman was on the attack once again in the 54th minute, controlling a long pass excellently before cutting infield and powering narrowly over from 25 yards out.

Town survived a penalty shout on a rare home attack two minutes later when Thompson tried to latch onto a long ball over the top, but Peter Clarke was adjudged to have played the ball.

A clever free kick routine from Town on the stroke of the 65th minute gave Anthony Pilkington the chance to pull the trigger, but in the end his effort was easily saved by Lillis.

A minute later, Jones planted a firm header wide at the far post from a good Matt Done cross.

SUB - Lee Clark made his first substitution in the 67th minute, with Lee Novak replacing Rhodes.

The substitute was immediately into the action - and he should have done better with a good-looking chance. Ridehalgh lofted a high free kick into the area that McCombe won impressively and when the ball dropped to the substitute, he looped a poor header over from close range at the back post.

The Terriers were consistently getting into great areas out wide, but a succession of deliveries into the box were being over-hit - much to the Chagrin of the Town bench.

However, one brilliant run from Peltier down the right led to a glorious chance for Joe Garner to register his first goal for the Club. The right back skinned a man on the outside before playing a low pass to the striker, who hit a forceful shot towards goal from 12 yards - only to see the 'keeper pull off a wonderful save to turn the ball away.

SUB - Rochdale made their first change in the 68th minute, with full-back Goodall replaced by Matthew Flynn.

Flynn almost got lucky in his first contribution to the game three minutes later when his cross had to be turned over the crossbar by Smithies and from the corner, Dawson's snapshot trickled wide.

Another flowing Town move ended with Pilkington turning a man on the left flank and crossing to the back post, but Peltier powered a shot into the outside of the side netting.

Damien Johnson hit a 25-yard drive wide moments later as the Terriers continued to dominate.

SUB - Rochdale made their second change in the 76th minute, with winger Done replaced by Oldham loanee Deane Smalley.

With seven minutes left Peltier went on another flying overlap down the right and when he crossed to the near post Garner turned the ball towards goal - only to see the 'keeper make another low save.

SUB - With five minutes left the Dale made their final change, with Joe Thompson replaced by forward Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro.

GOAL - With Town pressing for a second, the home side caught Town with an 88th minute sucker punch through striker Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro. With Anthony Pilkington pressing, the ball was cleared into the path of the striker who rolled past McCombe and advanced on goal before cleverly dinking the ball over the advancing Alex Smithies.

SUB - There was nothing left to lose and Clark threw on Alan Lee to replace Liam Ridehalgh.

GOAL - Instead, Chris O'Grady netted Rochdale's third. The forward collected a long ball on the edge of the box before skipping past the stricken Smithies, turning and powering the ball into the roof of the net past the covering defender.

Town had the ball in the net in added time through Lee's back-post header, but the referee adjudged that the striker had fouled the right back in doing so.

Novak volleyed over at the death as Town searched in vain for a consolation.


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

Alex Smithies; Liam Ridehalgh, Peter Clarke (c), Jamie McCombe, Lee Peltier; Graham Carey, Damien Johnson, Scott Arfield, Anthony Pilkington; Joe Garner, Jordan Rhodes (Lee Novak 67)

Unused Subs: Ian Bennett, Joey Gudjonsson, Antony Kay, Alan Lee, Lee Croft, Chris Atkinson

Attendance: 6,121

    Data provided by Press Association


    Town was the first club to win three successive league titles in 1926. Only Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have matched this feat.