Rochdale slumped to a disappointing 4-1 defeat against Peterborough United on Saturday afternoon, with Jonson Clarke-Harris’ hat-trick sinking Brian Barry-Murphy’s side.
Injuries to Ryan McLaughlin and Ollie Rathbone meant that Tojali Bola and Jimmy Ryan were re-introduced to the starting eleven. Former Dale loanee Ethan Harrison who did so much keep us up in the 2018/19 didn’t even make the bench for the home side.
Fans in the ground in this Tier 2 area looked down on a heavy pitch that had cut-up in the warm-ups.
Reece Brown hit the post for the home side with a shot from outside the area in the second minute after having almost all of the ball in the opening moments.
Sloppy defending and loose passes by the midfield in the fifth minute resulted in a penalty that would most appropriately be described as soft. Bola leant on Kanu who looked to be off-balance and after pausing to think, the referee pointed to the spot.
Clarke-Harris put it in the corner without fuss in what was to be the start of a very fruitful afternoon for him.
In the ninth minute good work by Newby and Keohane on the right-hand touchline led found Morley on the edge of the box, who lofted a lovely ball to our Stephen Humphrys who slotted home from close range.
But the lead didn’t last. Just a couple of minutes later a ball in from Burroughs who was given too much time and the impressive 18-year-old’s cross was nodded into the corner by the Clarke-Harris for his second, which Lynch will perhaps be disappointed to not have saved.
More sloppy passing and indecisiveness in defence in the 16th minute led to another chance for The Posh but thankfully it was pulled wide by Reece Brown.
Peterborough were working very hard and closed us down very quickly and this, combined with their passing around the area was excellent in the early stages. They were finding space on both wings and their wide men were swift and direct.
In the 23rd minute failure to clear a corner after another scramble in the box resulted in a hat trick for the £1.2 million man, signed from Bristol Rovers last summer.
Dale again missed Jake Beesley. Matty Lund was playing further up the pitch trying to win the headers but they weren’t sticking. On a number of occasions, Newby showed good control and dribbled but they didn’t lead to anything substantive. In defence passes from both O’Connell and Roberts were uncharacteristically misplaced putting unnecessary pressure on us.
The Posh keeper flapped at a cross midway through the first half that nearly dropped for Humphrys but it wasn’t anticipated and the ball ran away to safety.
Dembélé and Kanu were both impressive and looked threatening whenever they moved forward with the ball. It was noticeable how little, compared to Dale, the home side passed backwards when they were forward on the wings.
Dale gave away a needless corner in the 43rd minute with Keohane nodding behind when a shout should have told him to leave it. The corner came in and Thompson stooped low ahead of the skipper to glance a header into to bottom corner.
Half Time: Peterborough United 4-1 Rochdale
Dale started better in the 2nd half and looked vaguely more promising. I suspect this was primarily a result of the home side’s more relaxed attitude to closing us down. They still looked very threatening on the break though.
In the 49th minute, Dooley lost the ball in a good attacking position and the home side streamed forward in a flowing move which Clarke blazed over the top when he should have done better.
We were dominating midfield at this point and winning the second ball for the first time in the match. In the 52nd minute, Humphrys turned well squaring the ball for Lund who hit a long distant rising shot that didn’t trouble the keeper.
This was closely followed by two more efforts, Lund shot again which caused few concerns to Peterborough’s players. In what could have been a replica of our goal Morley crossed for Humphrys but couldn’t control the ball at the back post. Some great work by Roberts on the left lead to a corner which is, as so often, wasted.
Despite some more promising play by Dale every time Peterborough went forward, they carved out chances which they should have taken. I dread to think what the score might have been if Ivan Toney was still with Ferguson’s team.
The home side made their first of five substitutions and the first two of those swung the impetus back their way.
Bola was taken off after a poor start to the second half before two quick mistakes from Keohane let Peterborough in for two more chances that should have made more of.
A good long ball by Jim McNulty was brought down in the area by Humphrys who again couldn’t get his shot away before Newby, who showed some of his skills this afternoon also showed how weak in the challenge he can be
For some reason, and with us 4-1 down, Matt Done was brought on with Baah and Tavares still warming the bench.
When the two youngsters did enter the fray in the 89th they were joined by Ethan Brierley who showed vision and skill to launch a long ball to Fabio who did well with an early cross but Done’s left-footed effort was blocked.
Full Time: Peterborough United 4-1 Rochdale
Man of the Match: Jonson Clarke-Harris