REPORT: ROCHDALE 0-4 TOWNHuddersfield Town progressed to the Fifth Round of the Emirates FA Cup for only the third time this century due to a great win in a tough game at Rochdale.
Town’s Sky Bet League 1 hosts made it very difficult for David Wagner’s side, but the players combined real Terrier Spirit and quality to progress, as well as great adaptability.
Leading 1-0 at half time due to a late debut goal for new boy Collin Quaner, Wagner’s side switched to a more direct style to cope with the poor pitch and scored three second half goals without reply; two from defender turned striker Michael Hefele!
The Terriers also scored the first penalty they’ve been awarded all season, with Izzy Brown netting it in comprehensive fashion.
The Terriers knew they were in a proper Emirates FA Cup tie from the first moments, with hosts Rochdale flying out of the blocks and applying pressure to the Town defence.
In the driving rain, that pressure – combined with a tricky pitch – led to some poor early clearances, but the back four. However, the defenders coped admirably overall, with 21 year-old Jon Gorenc Stanković showing particularly impressive composure.
Keith Hill’s side started with two big men in the wide positions of an attacking 4-3-3, with Calvin Andrew and Peter Vincenti obvious aerial outlets for the home side. However, Andrew was withdrawn in the ninth minute after a nasty clash of heads with Town skipper Mark Hudson.
Quaner was involved in Town’s first attack of the game in the 12th minute, collecting a pass from Harry Bunn before nudging the ball right to Brown. Unfortunately, on this occasion, a defender got back to tackle the Chelsea loanee.
Rochdale then had two big chances to score the game’s opener. Vincenti should have done much better with his 20th minute opportunity, heading over when unmarked in the six-yard box from Reuben Noble-Lazarus’ cross after an initial corner was only half cleared.
The next Rochdale chance came through a Hudson mistake. The experienced defender was going to pass right to Martin Cranie, but as the right back slipped over he tried to play a blind pass back to goalkeeper Joel Coleman – and put striker Ian Henderson clear. Henderson rounded the goalkeeper as he advanced, but could only place his eventual shot wide of the near post with Stanković covering.
Hill was screaming at the referee moments later as he felt Coleman handled the ball outside his area, but it looked OK on first viewing.
Rochdale played quite a high defensive line and only the assistant referee’s flag saved them on a few occasions during the half. In the end, it was getting the ball behind the defence that led to Town’s stronger end to the half – and goal.
The first chance came in the 39th minute, with Brown launching a counter-attack by playing the ball to the right for Elias Kachunga. Some sharp passing ensued and led to Philip Billing testing goalkeeper Conrad Logan at his near post, with Quaner firing the rebound high and wide from a narrow angle when off balance.
Hudson volleyed just over the bar in the 41st minute after collecting Bunn’s excellent free kick into the danger zone on the edge of the Rochdale box.
It was from the resulting goal kick that Quaner’s first Town goal came. Logan made a mess of the clearance and Town returned the ball quickly over the defence for Brown to run clear. The attacking midfielder drew Logan out as he entered the box before unselfishly slipping the ball right to the German striker, who tapped gleefully into the empty net before running to celebrate with the 3,500 Town fans.
Wagner surprisingly brought Jonathan Hogg and Hefele on for Bunn and Kachunga during the interval, switching his side to a 4-3-3 and going direct into makeshift striker ‘Heff’ with the pitch becoming increasingly difficult.
Rochdale kept battling away, putting balls into the box at every opportunity; all dealt with in confident fashion by Joel Coleman.
Then Town was awarded the first penalty of the 2016/17 campaign in the 65th minute. Billing’s through ball was put behind for a left-sided corner and when Holmes-Dennis played the ball in, Hudson was flattened at the near post.
Izzy Brown took responsibility, stepping up and sending Logan the wrong way with ease to extend the lead.
Town’s extended the lead with a third three minutes later – and new boy Quaner was at the heart of it again. He showed good feet to come infield off the right side before being brought down by Camps, giving his side a free kick.
Aaron Mooy – just on for Dean Whitehead – stepped up and curled a fantastic free kick onto Hefele’s head in the heart of the box, who beat Logan low to his right side for his second goal in Town colours.
Rochdale didn’t give up, with some excellent back post defending needed from Holmes-Dennis to prevent an 80th minute goal and substitute Jack Redshaw hitting the wall from a 25-yard free kick, but the last goal came from Town – and Hefele.
Mooy was at the heart of things again, collecting a loose ball before placing a perfect pass for Quaner to run onto down the right. Collin could have pulled the trigger as he entered the right edge of the penalty area, but he unselfishly squared the ball to Hefele – who finished like a striker.
Town’s team (4-2-3-1):
Joel Coleman; Tareiq Holmes-Dennis, Jon Gorenc Stanković, Mark Hudson, Martin Cranie; Philip Billing, Dean Whitehead (Aaron Mooy, 69’); Harry Bunn (Jonathan Hogg, 46’), Isaiah Brown, Elias Kachunga (Michael Hefele, 46’); Collin Quaner
Danny Ward, Tommy Smith, Rajiv van La Parra, Nahki Wells
Isaiah Brown (52’)