LFL v The Dale

I feel good about this match and I think we're going to win it. In our last two games we've shown a more positive approach and it's certainly paid off. McNulty is out due to injury and he'll be missed but Wyke can also be an asset and I fancy him to get a goal tonight. We've looked tougher with Ozturk at the back and not only has he added considerable solidity but it was his punt out to the left that set up our great winner on Saturday. So far this season Rochdale's league record is exactly the same as ours except they've started drawing while we've found our winning touch. Match prediction: 3-1 to us.

When I got the team news just after 7 o'clock the only change from Saturday I could see was Wyke in for McNulty while McGeady and Maguire were both starting again. I tuned into SAFSEE and was pleased to hear we were playing in red and white. Rochdale started off at some pace with sixteen year-old debutant right-back Matheson showing early on that he liked to push forward and commentator Nick Barnes doubted that they'd be able to keep that up for long. Maguire had our first effort after five minutes and his shot wasn't far over. Willis gave away a free-kick just outside our box but they made a mess of it and we cleared it easily. Next thing we won a kick at the angle of their box and Leadbitter's shot was blocked. O'Nien was booked for a foul on the zippy Rathbone, again just outside our box, but it eventually went for a goal-kick. Rochdale enjoyed a good period of pressure and in the twentieth minute they had their best chance so far when Camps hit the side-netting. Gary Bennett said he had a feeling that Rochdale were going to make a mistake at the back and I certainly hoped so as we hadn't managed much penetration yet. In the twenty-eighth minute I heard Gooch's name for the first time and we immediately scored with a right-foot McGeady shot into the bottom left-hand corner. “Red 'n' white army,” came over the ether loud and clear followed by, “We are the Sundland, the Sundland boot boys...” We soon won the first corner of the game but Wyke handballed and that was that. It didn't take long for Rochdale to equalize as Camps was left unmarked at the edge of the box and he casually side-footed it home. We survived a penalty-shout when the ball appeared to hit Willis's hand and then Rochdale won their first corner. There was just one minute of stoppage-time but we had to endure another corner before the half-time whistle went. We'd battled well to finally take the lead but then we gave away a soft goal. We'd have to up our game a lot to manage my 3-1 prediction.

Right from the off Rathbone was racing forward and giving O'Nien plenty to think about and he'd been in the thick of their attacks all game. Eight minutes in McLaughlin did well to stop an effort by Camps and shortly after that we brought on Grigg to replace Gooch. We went ahead in the fifty-sixth minute after a powerful run to the line by O'Nien created a chance for Wyke and he hit what sounded a bit of a messy effort into the bottom right-hand corner. Who cares? O'Nien was splattered into the advertising hoardings while his team-mates celebrated. He's a battler though. I thought we'd gone further ahead when Wyke set up Grigg but Sanchez saved well and he immediately saved well again from a Wyke follow-up effort. Twenty minutes in McGeouch replaced Power and I was pleased to hear that as Power and Gooch had hardly been mentioned all game, which was maybe why we'd been on the back-foot so often. As the rain began to pour down Wyke joined O'Nien in the book for a foul. Grigg was receiving praise from Gary Bennett for his battling qualities and that was good to hear. Rathbone was subbed and that was also good news as he'd been a thorn in our side. Both sides were still creating chances and with a quarter of an hour left I fancied us to get another. Five minutes to go and Maguire was sounding pooped so we replaced him with Embleton not long after that. McLaughlin, as ever, was making crucial saves and he did well to stop an effort from Henderson as Rochdale put the pressure on again. I was a bit surprised to hear four minutes of stoppage-time announced and I certainly could've done without it as we sounded under the cosh. We conceded a free-kick in our half right near the end but got it clear and the whistle went at last.

Three more points after another battling win and we're in a play-off spot. All's well that ends well.