We've gone a bit complacent since the start of December, but we're still the best in the league:
Graham has been brought in to add quality to our attack, and he's been doing pretty well. This is a great signing for Rochdale given the player's status and age of just 27. He will provide stark competition for Scott Hogan.
Again, due to the lack of quality upfront, this veteran was acquired for greater squad depth.
Our main keeper, Robbie Thomson left due to contract issues and Santangelo looked pretty weak in net. So, I signed Weale on a free transfer and he will be first choice if he plays well.
I released Andy Kirk and Durrell because they were taking up too many wages, Dickson Etuhu requested a transfer for unknown reasons ( ) so he was sold to Sheffield United for a small fee of £35k, but due to a sell-on fee percentage clause, Rochdale only received £20k. Robbie Thomson wouldn't renew his contract with the club (which ran out in June 2016) so we had to cash in on him before his value dropped and we received £575k from Burnley for him. It was sad to sell him for such a small fee for his quality, but the value would have dropped had I waited any longer. Heskey was also placed on the transfer-list after he failed to produce some of the form the prompted West Ham to sign him a year ago from Newcastle Jets, and he will now ply his trade at Chinese club Jiangsu for a small fee of £17.75k.
We played a match against Cardiff who are in the Premier League... it's fair to say it was memorable.
FA Cup Fourth Round
Hello and welcome to Sky Sports. My name is Mike Hawk (BayernAmerica) and sat alongside me is Lucas Crosbie (Lucas). We're sat at Spotland, where home side Rochdale face Premier League side Cardiff.
Well, it's clear who's going to win the match here Mike, I'm putting my money on Rochdale tonight. They're better than Barcelona.
I think I have to agree, Rochdale are heavy underdogs, but the form they're in is incredible, just incredible.
You do realise I was being sarcastic right, Mike?
You actually flew all the way from America just to commentate over this bullsh --
Haha, excuse my friend Lucas here, he's a bit tipsy tonight. So here are the line-ups for the match, which kicks off in precisely half an hour. Here are the starting lineups, and Justin Credible knows that his side are heavy underdogs but will want to come away with something out of this match:
Rochdale have their main frontman Scott Hogan playing as an advanced forward tonight, flanked with Bahamboula and Lawrence.
A weak attack if you ask me, very weak. Credible could do better.
Scott Hogan's their main man...
Exactly, shows how 'strong' they are. Credible really needs to sort his tactics out, they're so predictable.
It shows how much confidence Mackay has in winning tonight, he's picked his secondary tactic (the 4-4-2) and also he's put his strongest side out there. In spite of this, I reckon we could see an upset here at Spotland, I bet Credible hasn't slept in days!
Funnily enough, the referee for this match is Howard Webb... This match certainly will be entertaining!
Alright Lucas, enough of that. Howard Webb is a fair professional and he never gives biased decisions.
Are you a Manchester United fan by any chance Mike?
*Lucas smirks* Oh nothing.
Here we go! It's kicked off, Cornelius with a backpass to Caulker, who first times it across to Martin.Martin surges past Bahamboula and hits a cross!Ohhhhhh, Santangelo tips it behind the bar, he almost got lucky there. 36 seconds into the match and it's a corner kick already!Here's Pilkington with a left-footed corner... met by the head of Mason...! OH AND MASON'S DONE IT! HE'S SCORED WITHIN 50 SECONDS!!! OH MY WORD WHAT A HEADER! He sprints over to the Cardiff stands, Rochdale are looking to become undone. What did I say eh?! Cardiff have already started the thrashing tonight. What a class header, got clear of Eastham who completely lost his man, and he got punished for it. Pffft, Rochdale... they've had too much luck so far.
Rochdale 0-1 Cardiff
Joe Mason (1')
(32') Manager Justin Credible is furious, he's waving his arms around on the touchline, urging his team to get forward and attack. Here's Martin with the throw-in straight to Mason, the man who has scored in the early seconds of the match tonight. Tackle from Tutte, but Pennant latches onto the ball right away and dribbles past Michael Rose. So easy! He hits a curled cross from the right wing, CORNELIUUUUS!!!! He's got it... Dean Santangelo has just managed to grip the ball from the shot, HOW on earth did he save that?! Luck... Too much luck.
(38') Here's Pennant again on the right wing, oh and what a challenge from Michael Rose! A freekick?! Are you kidding me? That was a red, Mike. He's really lucky he's not going back in the dressing room after a foul like that... That would have been applauded back in the MLS, these tackles make up soc- erm I mean football as we know it today! Pennant takes the freekick and it goes straight to Santangelo. Wasted. Oh no, Santangelo makes a blunder and throws it straight to Brayford... Oh and Lawrence with the sliding tackle from behind, world class piece of defending there! And now it's with Tutte, can he make something of it here? A great ball into Hogan who's making a run! He's clear! He's shaken off Caulker with his pace, could this be the moment...?! Hogan with a thundering shot...! OHHH and it's tipped wide by Marshall, what a save from what could have been a deadly counter attacking piece of play! Corner kick to Rochdale! Rose is going to take it with his left foot, it's curling in from high and wide...! EASTHAM HEADS IT! SAVED BY MARSHALL, EASTHAM VOLLEYS IT BACK FROM THE REBOUND!!!!!! GOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL!!! THE MAN WHO GAVE AWAY THE GOAL, HAS NOW EQUALISED FOR ROCDHALE!! I have to admit, what a volley from the center-back, Rochdale are back on level-pegging! Mackay is shaking his head at the defending there, rubbish!
Rochdale 1-1 Cardiff
(45') And it's half time here at Spotland, both sides going in with one goal each to the scoreboard! I still favour Cardiff though.
The players grouped around the dressing room, looking keen. My heartbeat had just returned to normal, and it was about to fluctuate again in fifteen minutes. "Ashley, I was planning on beating you up when you didn't mark the attacker before, but that volley that you scored made me change my mind! All we need now is one more goal. Just one so we can win this match. They are worse than I thought... I was expecting a 4-0 thrashing, but there are 10,000 fans out there who will be delighted if you guys win this match. COME ON!" I encouraged them.
There was a murmur of appreciation in the half-circle, some looking fired up and genuinely pleased.
"Plaisir, you haven't been connecting your crosses well enough and you look a bit tired, so you're coming off for now and Graham, you're replacing him. Scott, you can go on the left-wing for the remainder of the match and Graham you play up front."
I sighed. "Dean, I know you've been having a torrid time trying to fill Thomson's boots but remember, you're no.1 now. You chose to stay at this club and sign a new contract whereas he chose the opposite and has left. You chose to be loyal. Now go on out there and lose all your nervousness, you need to be more confident!"
I patted him on the back and shouted, "UP THE DALE!", the players shouted back, "UP THE DALE!" and we marched back out onto the pitch... my heartbeat again beginning to rise.
(46') This burger sure hits the damn spot, I feel like I could eat a f*cking horse right now. Uhh, Lucas, we're on air. ... Here we go again! Rochdale have kicked off the half, looking more eager than before now that their manager has spoken to them over the break. Here comes the new Rochdale signing, Brain Graham who replaces Bahamboula.
Bahamboula Brian Graham
(48') Rochdale are playing with a certain aura since half-time, look at the passing! Tiki-taka Barcelona style play there from the Dale, retaining possession more than ever before! The ball's with Tom Lawrence on the halfway line, he knocks it past Figueroa, still Lawrence! Tackle from Turner there, but Rafferty nicks it back for the hosts. Now it's Tutte, to Rose, who knocks it down the left wing to Hogan... Hogan with an early cross to the right edge of the box, Rafferty with a great first-touch, he's in the box, can he cross it to the far-post to Hogan...? No he can't... Pilkington with a rough tackle... WHAT?! WHAT THE F*CK! HOWARD WEBB'S GIVEN A PENALTY! Well it was a two-footed tackle... Cheaters. Rochdale have bought Webb. This is unfair.
*chuckles* Lund steps up to take the penalty... GOAL! He sends Marshall to the right and chips it into the middle, they've taken the lead. The crowd go wild! Unfairness at it's worst, but Cardiff are now trailing!
Rochdale 2-1 Cardiff
(73') Barton and Poole replace Lund and Lawrence respectively. Lund recieves a standing ovation as Rochdale try and preserve this narrow lead that they have.
M. Lund Adam Barton
Tom Lawrence Steven Poole
(86') Figueroa is looking for space, if he flicks it past Hogan he will only have one man to beat before he can shoot! He does, Hogan is left eating the dust and Figueroa surges past! Ohhhh and he tries the rainbow flick! Bad try, intercepted in mid air by Michael Rose, who boots the ball the other way and clears the danger. Rochdale really need to start defending now to ensure victory because had Rose not been there, it probably would have been a goal... Tutte sprays it out to Rafferty who crosses it in first time to the feet of... GRAHAM!! BRIAN GRAHAM TAPS THE BALL INTO THE NET THROUGH MARSHALL'S LEGS IN THE SIX-YARD BOX! My word, Rochdale are winning 3-1 ladies and gentlemen. This is world-class stuff out there. Pure awesomeness. I can't believe this...
Rochdale 3-1 Cardiff
(88') Poole has the ball in the center of midfield... he hits a lobbed through ball upwards, looking for Graham... GRAHAM WITH THE VOLLEY...! Marshall gets a hand to it and the ball clips the bar as it whizzes out for yet another corner. One more chance for Rochdale, this may even be their last chance to attack so they can further humiliate Cardiff. Here's Rose with a low corner to the centre of the box, he messes up, the ball is losing height... Figueroa gears up for the clearence... and MISSES! EASTHAM WITH ANOTHER VOLLEY!!! OH MY F*CKING WORD! THEY'VE SCORED AGAIN!! What?! No... NO! YES! They've scored again! Eastham with a brace! This day will be memorable... No way did that just happen! What a game! Mackay is CRYING on the bench, I don't blame him! He will be wondering where his team messed up, and Credible will be celebrating this victory for a while.
Rochdale 4-1 Cardiff
(90') And the final whistle blows, thank you very much Mr. Webb! It's not his fault, it's Credible's fault for being such a good manager. ... The crowd go wild! This was Rochdale's first sellout in Credible's reign and he has surely pleased the Dale fans by DESTROYING Cardiff! Thank you for watching ladies and gentlemen, it is Rochdale who progress to the Fifth Round of the FA Cup this season, and it is Cardiff who will be mourning this loss for months to come.
Superb stuff right there, but how have we been doing against other teams since December?
We kicked off the last month of 2013 well with 1-0 victories over Crawley, Bradford and Oldham, but we then lost 1-0 to Walsall and dropped two points against Scunthorpe where we conceded a late equaliser. We then went on a 5-match winning spree, including a match against Bristol which finished 6-5. We then lost 2-1 to Bournemouth, and also 1-0 to MK Dons, further narrowing our top spot lead down...
We play Chesterfield THRICE in the next month, twice in the JPT North Final and once in League 1. Other than that these fixtures seem easy and we will try to get maximum points for our impressive run in League One.
Admirably, we've still managed to hold on to the top spot in League One this month. The lead has also increased to seven points:
As for our results, we've been doing pretty well:
Rochdale AFC 1-0 Chesterfield FC (H)
Johnstone's Paint Trophy North Final Leg 1
Plaisir Bahamboula (32')
Match Review One goal was needed to give us a narrow lead over Chesterfield at home, athough I imagine we could have done better due to missed chances. Nevertheless it gave us a good advantage over them for the second leg.
Colchester United 1-1 Rochdale AFC (A)
Sky Bet League 1
Martin Scott (12') Ashley Eastham (51')
Match Review A tough match where we were slight underdogs. Colchester were on a winning streak and it was good to break that with a header from Ashley Eastham.
Rochdale AFC 1-0 Shrewsbury Town FC (H)
Sky Bet League 1
Plaisir Bahamboula (27')
Match Review Plaisir Bahamboula scored from a rebound off the post, giving us the lead and Chris Weale saved lots of powerful shots so he deserved the man of the match award.
Rochdale AFC 0-1 Nottingham Forest (H)
FA Cup Fifth Round
Greg Halford (24')
Match Review I felt that this was a winnable game due to the fact that we beat a bigger team than Nottingham Forest at Spotland, but I was pleased we only lost by one goal and also about that fact that we made it so far into the FA Cup.
Match Review We lost the match overall due to a chip over the keeper by promising striker Danny Owen which brought the game to 1-1 on aggregate. However, I'm delighted we won on penalties though, nail-biting stuff.
Chesterfield 1-2 Rochdale AFC (A)
Sky Bet League 1
Paul Heffernan (10', 43')
Eoin Doyle (79')
Match Review A superb game for Heffernan who will be delighted after picking up his first two goals for Rochdale.
Rochdale AFC 1-0 Oldham Athletic (H)
Sky Bet League 1
Andrew Tutte (20')
Match Review A narrow win over our arch rivals, but one goal was all that was needed to get the three points and it was yet another clean sheet for Chris Weale.
Player of the Month
Chris Weale has been fantastic this month, keeping 3 clean sheets and conceding 4 in 7 matches since he has signed for Rochdale.
Chris Dunphy also emailed me the fixtures coming up, one of which is the JPT Final versus AFC Wimbledon at Wembley:
We need to get maximum points from these fixtures so we can get to the Sky Bet Championship, and we need to win the JPT since we have come so far.
We are ever so close to clinching the title, having secured a play-off spot already:
It was a mediocre month, could have done better though:
Rochdale AFC 3-1 Leyton Orient (H)
Sky Bet League 1
Lee Croft (12') Luke O'Neill (59') Paul Heffernan (pen) (80') Matthew Lund (86')
Match Review We rallied back with three goals after going one-nil down after just twelve minutes, a good, solid win over an in-form team to push us closer to the title.
Peterborough 2-2 Rochdale AFC (A)
Sky Bet League 1
Mathieu Manset (15') Paul Heffernan (24')
Britt Assombalonga (30') Scott Hogan (58')
Match Review A draw was okay against the second-placed team in League One, who were also on an unbeaten run like us.
Gillingham 1-2 Rochdale AFC (A)
Sky Bet League 1
Brian Graham (18')
Luke James (83') Steven Poole (90+4')
Match Review We looked complacent near the end of the match, so we conceded a late equaliser. However, it wasn't Gillingham's day because wonderkid Steven Poole scored on the brink of full time to win it for us.
Rochdale AFC 3-3 Carlisle (H)
Sky Bet League 1
Alex Gilliead (16') Scott Hogan (56')
Mark Beck (67', 87') Andrew Tutte (74') Paul Heffernan (80')
Match Review An intensive 3-3 draw against 10th placed Carlisle. We should have defended better and we should have won this match fairly easily. However, I took it well because Peterborough lost their match, increasing the lead to 8 points..
Tranmere Rovers 3-3 Rochdale AFC (A)
Sky Bet League 1
Marcello Trotta (24', 62')
Lasse Vigen (54') Andrew Tutte (66') Paul Heffernan (71') Ashley Eastham (80'')
Match Review This was a poor game for us. Tranmere were supposed to be an easy team to beat but we found ourselves 3-0 down before mounting a comeback to get a point. Like before, Peterborough lost their corresponding fixture so we extended the lead by another point.
The JPT Final against AFC Wimbledon and the fixture against Yeovil Town got postponed until April due to lack of our key players (on international duty).
Player of the Month
Coming up through the youth ranks of Aberystwyth last season, Steven Poole has had a breakthrough at Rochdale AFC this season, especially this month where he scored a late winner to get us the three points against Gillingham.
Finally, we will now play the JPT Final against AFC Wimbledon, and surely we can win it:
We've secured a play-off spot, but a title victory could be possible in this month if we get maximum points from the remaining fixtures.