After Wednesday’s inspiring win my hopes are up for another victory today. All three goals were great but for me the third one when Morgan linked up with Sterling was the most heartwarming as it showed that two comparatively fringe players could be so effective. We’ll need as many players as possible during our hectic run-in and those two demonstrated that they’ll be an asset. There have been so many games this season that I can’t remember the results in many of them and can’t recall anything about the home fixture. Once again, I’ll be watching the match in a Sunderland pub and as it’s a Saturday it’s bound to be on the crammed side which will of course add to the atmosphere despite the quality of the TV feed. I’m hoping McGeady has fully recovered and will be back to lam one or two in but even if he isn’t, I fancy us to win. Match prediction: 2-1 to us.
When I arrived at the pub and got the team news I saw that McGeady was indeed out and Morgan was starting while Power was captain. The pub was only about as busy as it’d been on Wednesday but there were still enough in to make a racket. There was some curiosity about what the Rochdale mascot was supposed to be but a bit of googling by a bloke next to me revealed that it was Digger the Dog. It looked like a warthog on a bad night to me.
We had our first shot on target in the seventh minute and It was a decent low effort by Power but Lills in goal saved it fairly comfortably. Pretty soon news came through that Burton had gone one-up against Barnsley and that was great for us. There was no sound at all coming from the telly and the players were a bit fuzzy but we were getting a clear enough idea of what was happening...so far. We had a golden chance in the fifteenth minute when Grigg connected with a cross from the right but didn’t place it accurately enough. We soon won our first corner but it was easily cleared and then Gooch laid on a great pass for Wyke as he ran into the box but he didn’t shoot first time and the chance went begging. We’d been well on top but just before the half-hour mark Rochdale took the lead when Henderson hit a low shot from inside our box after receiving a pass from his left. Our defence was all over the place and we were punished accordingly. Gooch went down injured and was replaced by Honeyman and next up Blackpool equalized against Luton so mixed blessings there. A great long-distance shot from Power a few minutes before the break brought another corner but it came to nothing again. The balance of play was even enough now and as the whistle went the guy next to me summed it up when he said, “We’ve been very pathetic.” We’d need to buck things up considerably to get even a draw and with Portsmouth winning 1-0 things weren’t looking good.
Our team were out a few minutes before Rochdale and as we kicked off again I hoped we’d see Sterling on soonish. Rochdale were time-wasting like hell and one of their players was yellow-carded for taking ages to take a throw but McGeouch was promptly booked too for a foul. Portsmouth went 2-0 up to make the afternoon gloomier but, ten minutes in, we drew level with a great swivel and low shot into the bottom-right corner by Wyke. Three minutes later there was a scramble in their box from which we should have scored but it resulted in a free-kick for them. We swapped Oviedo for Hume and he soon had a shot on target – I expected him to give us more penetration down the left. Blackpool went 2-1 up against Luton and though I’m only really concerned about Barnsley and Portsmouth, it was all to the good. We got on top and I could feel a goal was on its way but Rochdale fought back to gave the pub crowd a few scares. Sterling came on for Morgan, who I have to say had hogged the ball too much, with about twelve minutes to go. Burton went 2-0 up against Barnsley and we still had time to get a winner. Rochdale were continuing to waste time and for a side fighting relegation that was an odd tactic. They got their just desserts with around two minutes on the clock when Honeyman received a pass from the right and hit a low shot into the net to create delirium in the bar and after an awful lot of stoppage-time it ended 2-1.
We made hard work of this but a much-improved second-half display did the business. With Barnsley losing we should have them in our pocket now …. It was good to see Wyke get a great goal and hopefully his confidence will be vastly improved. Deep joy!