Match Report

 

Sat 21 Aug 10


Ian Henderson was the U's hero on Saturday afternoon as they recorded their first league victory under John Ward.

The U's had to work exceptionally hard for their rewards, against a Rochdale side that will have more than enough to make an impression in League One this season.

But the U's had quality throughout.

Defensive fortitude when Dale had their spells of pressure was rewarded when the U's went in the other direction, with some exceptional forward play.

And a goal at the end of each half earned them a big three points to really kick start their season.

The U's were unchanged for the third game running as they made their first visit to Dale in thirteen years. It was a fairly even start to the game, as both sides looked to get a foothold on proceedings. The home side maybe edged the early affairs, but neither side managed to test the keeper in the first five minutes. Elding was the main danger man in the early stages for the home side, almost getting his toe to a dangerous through ball as the fifth minute arrived. The U's were having to defend strongly as the game took shape, with Dale having the territorial advantage and the U's not really putting much together going forwards. However, they had their first chance with twelve minutes on the clock. A fine run from Mooney then sent Tierney away, and his cross to the far post came to Henderson, whose shot was deflected behind. Elding then spurned another chance with an open goal at his mercy from close range, but his blushes were spared by the linesman's flag having gone up earlier in the move. The home side were playing with plenty of width and, as the 20 minute mark approached, Okuonghae had to put in a fine header at the far post with Dale looking dangerous. His defensive partner Reid then intervened as some intricate play looked like it might cause more problems for the U's at the back. The visitors were having to chase the ball as Dale moved it around nicely, but they kept their shape and discipline well. Cousins was quick off his line on 26 minutes as Dale got in behind. Elding was bearing down on him, but the U's keeper made sure he cleared the ball before the striker could get to the ball. Two minutes later and the U's had a rare chance of their own. Having just won a corner, they then had a pair of efforts from Mooney. First he had a shot deflected wide of the near post, before he spurned a great headed effort from ten yards out. A cross from Henderson presented the ball on a plate for the Irish striker, but he couldn't direct his header on target. Henderson then forewent an equally good opportunity. He burst through the Dale defence and nonchalantly chipped from just inside the box. The keeper could only watch on as it floated over his head, but it came back off the face of the crossbar. The U's were well on top at this stage and went close again on 36 minutes. Wordsworth set the ball back to Henderson and his driven shot was clawed away from the top corner by Lillis. It was temporary respite for the home team, the U's went in front two minutes later. Again the U's moved the ball on the edge of the box, and Bond struck a shot that took a deflection and left Lillis flat footed as it hit the back of the net. Bond had another chance three minutes later, awaiting with menace at the edge of the box as he drove over the bar. And the midfielder threatened again on the stroke of half time, turning a Henderson low corner towards goal to force another fine stop out of Lillis. The U's were now seeking that crucial second goal as the second half got underway. However, the Dale were the next team to score not long after the restart. They won a corner following a fine tackle by Henderson. The ball was hit low to Dawson and his low half volley went through a host of bodies into the back of the net. The game was end to end at the start of that second period and Elding curled an effort over the crossbar as Cousins watched on. The U's were looking dangerous on the counter attack but Dale had been enthused by their goal and were back to their play of the first quarter of the game. The U's went close through Mooney as the hour mark approached, striking a low shot that Lillis got down well to save. The home side made the first change as Mooney received some treatment with Tutte and Akpa Akpro came on. The latter of the two subs smacked a shot off the bar not long after his introduction, as Wilson slipped on the right. The substitutions had given the home side fresh impetus, but the U's retained a threat on the counter attack. U's boss John Ward was frustrated though as his side didn't retain pressure when opportunity presented itself. Henderson had a half shout for a penalty as he went down in the box, but the referee waved away appeals. The Dale were having the better of it though as the game entered the final fifteen minutes and the U's made a change with twelve to go. Beevers was the man to be introduced for Perkins at this time and the former Dale man went off to a warm round of applause from all four sides of the ground as he left the pitch. Reid was then taken off for Baldwin for the last ten minutes, the vice captain looking uncomfortable as he came off. The U's had been given a free kick in the meantime, but Wordsworth could only hit the ball into the wall. The home side had been pressing hard, but they were left shell shocked as the U's got their noses in front for a second time. Super play from Mooney to control a direct ball forward saw him bring the ball down delightfully. He exchanged a delicate one two with Henderson who found enough in his legs to dart behind the Dale defence and lift the ball over the keeper and into the net. They almost made it 3-1 three minutes later. The U's again moved it nicely and Beevers, waiting on the edge of the box, smacked in a firm shot that Lillis did superbly to turn over the bar.

In the final stages, the U's ran the ball away into the corners and celebrated a hard fought win.

U's: Cousins, Wilson, Reid (Baldwin), Okuonghae, Tierney, Wordsworth, Izzet, Bond, Perkins (Beevers), Henderson, Mooney (Odejayi)


    Data provided by Press Association

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