Rochdale’s hopeless recent form continued as they were comfortably beaten 2-0 by Hull City on Tuesday night, with the hosts barely needing to break a sweat to earn three points against Brian Barry-Murphy’s side.
A first-half goal from the in-form Malik Wilks gave the hosts the lead, before Gabriel Osho’s own-goal made the three points safe for Hull, but frankly, it felt as if the three points were safe as soon as Dale turned up.
There were three changes from the team that were beaten by Burton Albion at the weekend, as Osho, Jimmy Keohane and Conor Grant came in for Kwadwo Baah, Matty Done and the suspended Olly Rathbone.
Dale had all of the possession in the early stages against Grant McCann’s promotion hopefuls but simply passed it around the back rather than pushing forward, with the Tigers looking to pounce on the inevitable mistakes.
There was no urgency at all in Dale’s play, with the game played out as a training exercise for the first 25 minutes, until Hull realised that if they attacked this Dale defence they would most likely score.
A long ball out to Wilks saw him skip inside two weak Dale challenges before firing a shot at goal from outside the area, which goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu could have fallen on, but instead let through his grasp for 1-0 to the home side.
Strangely, it was against the run of play, with Dale not playing well, but showing far more than they did against Burton at the weekend.
Stephen Humphrys was left completely isolated up front and was doing his best to score all by himself, and he did well to turn his man twice before seeing a shot deflected just over, as Dale ended the first half strongly.
Unfortunately for Dale, on the rare occasions they did have the ball in promising areas, the final ball lacked any real quality, with Grant and Ryan McLaughlin in particular culpable of some shocking passes.
Half Time: Hull 1-0 Rochdale
Dale again had all the possession at the start of the second half, with Eoghan O’Connell doing well in a midfield role, but there was no penetration in Dale’s attacks, just backwards, backwards, backwards until we eventually gifted the ball to the hosts.
Dale’s best passages of play came when Osho carried the ball out of defence but despite Hull putting no pressure on him, he looked scared to go forward even when there was a lot of space, and usually turned around to pass it to Paul McShane instead.
Out of nowhere, Hull made it 2-0 with a simple cross into the box which substitute Tom Eaves completely missed, only for Osho to smash it past his own keeper.
With 20 minutes remaining, Barry-Murphy finally made an attacking change with Baah coming on for McShane, with O’Connell moving back into defence.
Although the game was already over at this point, with the idea of Dale scoring one goal let alone two a foreign concept at the moment, any chance of coming back into the game was scuppered when the referee sent Connor Shaughnessy off for a perfectly good tackle.
That’s two red cards in two games for Dale now – more than the zero shots on target they’ve managed in those games.
Supporting Dale has become a chore for me, every game is boring and we look destined for relegation now as other sides around us have swapped managers and had a boost as a result.
I was a big fan of Barry-Murphy at first but some of his tactics in recent games have been baffling, whilst the decision to send on Jim McNulty for Alex Newby with ten minutes remaining was nearly enough for me to turn off, as if Dale are admitting defeat at that point in the game, why shouldn’t I?
The impressive Wilks had two chances to add to his tally for this season but first failed to make a connection with Keane Lewis-Potter’s cross, before Bazunu saved his weak effort from George Honeyman’s cut back.
Hull won’t have an easier three points all season, apart from perhaps the 3-0 drumming they handed us at the Crown Oil Arena earlier in the campaign, whilst Dale’s trip to Sunderland on Saturday is already filling me with dread, as frankly if they decide to attack, it could well be a cricket score.
Full Time Hull 2-0 Rochdale
Man of the Match: Malik Wilks