Rochdale 0-0 Sheffield Wednesday
Reporter: Martin Culshaw
Date online: 03 March 2012
Gary Jones missed a 79th minute penalty as Rochdale held high flying Sheffield Wednesday at Spotland. The Dale skipper saw his spot kick come back off the post after Jason Kennedy was upended in the area by Owls Captain Rob Jones.
John Coleman made two changes to the side that lost to Notts County in midweek. Goalkeeper Peter Kurucz has returned to parent club West Ham for treatment after being injured in the collision that saw Lee Hughes sent off in midweek; Dave Lucas started in his place. Joe Thompson got the nod ahead of Ashley Grimes who has struggled for form recently.
The visitors, who are chasing automatic promotion started with the returning Chris O’Grady who signed for Wednesday in the August transfer window. Stephen Bywater also made his first return to the club where he started as a youngster whilst Gary Madine had a spell on loan at Spotland from Carlisle United back in 2009.
The Owls, backed by nearly 3000 travelling supporters, were expected to win this game comfortably but a resolute Dale side had other ideas. Joe Thompson perhaps should have done better with a 5th minute volley that Bywater held comfortably. From the keeper, The Owls launched a swift attack with Widdowson blocking from Madine.
O’Grady received a very warm reception from the home fans and almost opened the scoring for his new club but Lucas was on hand to gather his powerful shot.
Wednesday were being watched from the stands by new manager Dave Jones who will take charge from Monday and he must have thought his new side had scored when defender Danny Batth’s downward header just crept over the Dale cross bar.
Rob Jones should have done better with a free header from a Bennett cross as the Owls were beginning to dominate.
O’Grady fired across goal from a Wednesday counter attack but in all fairness, Dale were comfortable at the back.
Coleman’s side came out for the second half looking like a different side. Kevin Long powered a shot just over from 18 yards whilst Kennedy warmed the hands of Bywater after great play between him and Symes.
The second half saw a welcomed return to action for Akpa-Akpro. The Frenchman missed the last 2 games through injury and his introduction saw immediately why he has been missed. His pace and energy scared the visitors and his header from Widdowson’s cross with 20 minutes remaining went agonisingly wide.
The main talking point of the game came with 11 minutes remaining. Jason Kennedy’s jinking run into the area was brought to an end abruptly by a Rob Jones challenge and referee Bates had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Once the arguments had calmed down, Gary Jones stepped up but slammed his kick against the left hand post.
It was a glorious chance to win the game that went begging but a point to a side chasing promotion is a point that wasn’t expected pre-match.
John Coleman spoke after the game, he said: “We can analyse the points at the end of the season, today I would like to concentrate on how well we played; every player played well. We were all disappointed on Tuesday but today we worked hard and even if we had lost that game, I would have been bursting with pride at the way we played. On another day the penalty goes in and we get the 3 points. You know what to expect from them (Sheffield Wednesday), they are very direct and have been successful at doing that this season. At time they made Stoke City look like Barcelona! They have big strong lads who are a handful. We tried to impose ourselves by playing football and I felt we made good opportunities. We had a plan of where we wanted to be at and we are currently only 2 points behind schedule and we can make in-roads into that on Tuesday. Jonah scored a pressure penalty against Bournemouth but today it didn’t go in and that’s the luck of the game.”
Rochdale: Lucas, Widdowson, Holden, Long, Darby, Jones (c), Barry-Murphy, Kennedy, Thompson (Tutte 87), Adams (Akpa-Akpro 52), Symes
Subs (not used): Edwards, Grimes, Jordan
Sheff Wed: Bywater, Buxton, Prutton (Lowe 65), O.Grady, Batth, Semedo, Bennett, Lines, Jones (c), Madine, Antonio
Subs (not used): Jameson, Llera, Morrison, M Jones
Referee: Mr T Bates
Ass Ref: Mr M Parry & Mr P Wright
4th Official: Mr A Hutchinson
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