Rochdale 0-0 Bury: Review

  • Joe Murphy’s distribution was poor throughout his time on the pitch. I thought that his early kicking foot ‘swap’ against Bristol Rovers was a temporary measure but perhaps his left foot has more lasting problems than originally envisaged. As a result, many balls went wayward for throw-ins or to a blue shirt where otherwise they would likely not have done. As for his red card, I believe the referee made the correct decision, even if he was only marginally outside of his area.


  • The late loan captures of Rohan Ince and Jordan Williams for Bury (announced on Friday), coupled with Nathan Cameron returning to the starting eleven, gave a vastly different complexion to the team. Phil Edwards’ holding midfield role played to his conservative strengths and simple passing game. Ince immediately gave the middle of the park the injection of dynamism it required in Stephen Dawson’s prolonged absence; nominally more defensive minded than the former Scunthorpe United captain, he got stuck in with some gusto, offering crunching challenges, decent skill on the ball and height, which is perhaps an overlooked attribute in the areas Lee Clark will want him to operate in.


  • Cameron gave the Shakers what he always has done since his on-field upturn in fortunes in 2014/2015: leadership from the back, awareness of where the gaps are and the pace to cover them and moreover, a comfortable posture on the ball, which allows him to turn with it in tight areas with confidence and shepherd it out of defence. Fatigue certainly crept in with the second period halfway through but that’s more than understandable, given that it was his first start in an entire year. The knee problems he has are unfortunately going to persist throughout his career (and life after hanging up his boots), which will restrict his training regimen and preclude him from participating in consecutive matches that fall close to each other in the fixture calendar.


  • I admit that I didn’t know anything about the Jordan Williams in a black shirt prior to his arrival at Carrington. On the evidence of Saturday’s match, he is more than comfortable playing senior football at 17 in an attacking right-back role, showing some good touches and combining a thrust going forwards with the necessary steel and positioning to keep the defensive shape when Rochdale did push up his flank.


  • Tsun Dai didn’t give the best account of his talents in a role which might have suited Callum Styles more (had he been on the bench). Tasked with linking the double-pivot in midfield with the front three, he found himself in good positions off-the-ball more often than on it and was well marshalled by Jamie Allen in particular. Callum Reilly, on his place early in the second half, fared little better in an attacking sense but he was only on for three minutes before Murphy was sent off.


  • Murphy’s replacement, Leo Fasan, acquitted himself well under the circumstances he was thrown into. Had Matty Done got the ball out of his feet when one-and-one, he might have worked the Italian custodian a little more decisively than he eventually managed and under pressure from Reilly, the follow-up from Ian Henderson was high over the crossbar.


  • Dale’s illnesses and injuries were clearly biting into their small squad and they were as poor as I can remember them (and even then, they had the better chances). Losing Kgosi Nthle with barely 20 minutes on the clock meant a switcharound in defence; Reece Brown came on in the right-back berth and he and Joe Rafferty swapped sides from time to time. The latter held Nicky Ajose at arm’s length throughout proceedings and only enhanced his burgeoning reputation at the Crown Oil Arena. Brown should’ve been greatly troubled by the directness of Harry Bunn but in truth, the organisation on show from Jim McNulty was excellent and they almost always kept their shape, rarely allowing him or Jermaine Beckford a pocket of space in between the centre backs or in the channels. Without Chris Maguire or Jay O’Shea, Bunn carries most of the creative burden on his shoulders and needs to show much more often that he is up to the task.


  • Beckford’s pressing in the first half deserved more support from his teammates. On several occasions, he forced McNulty and Harrison McGahey into a rushed pass or won the ball back and could’ve profited from the wide men or Dai anticipating this and taking a little more of a risk. He cut an understandably isolated figure once more during the second period as Keith Hill elected to bring forward their defensive line and trap the Shakers in their own half. With only Ajose, Maguire and player-coach Ryan Lowe on the books who can comfortably play as an out-and-out striker (now that Chris Sang has joined Southport on loan), I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see yet another player come in before the deadline has passed.


  • Ryan Cooney had little time to demonstrate his ability but his late cameo on for Edwards is another endorsement of the academy at the club; versatile enough to play anywhere in midfield and defence, he is likely to be called upon from the bench this season primarily but will be someone who Clark can utilise in many different contexts of a football match.


  • The overall spectacle was bereft of real quality, much goalmouth action and perhaps some of the intensity witnessed in prior derbies. The visitors being a man light and favouring caution over a more cavalier approach (unsurprising given that they had conceded seven in the last two games). August hasn’t been kind to either side in terms of both results and performances and decidedly tough games await both south Lancashire outfits in September with key personnel still out.

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