Rochdale 2-0 Bolton Wanderers

  • January 11, 2020 | By Chris Mann
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Bolton's inevitable slide towards relegation continued after they were beaten 2-0 by Rochdale at the Crown Oil Arena.

Having lost to Dale in league, Carabao Cup and Trophy ties already this season, Brian Barry-Murphy's side became the first in history to record four victories over Wanderers in one solitary campaign as strikes in each half from Luke Matheson and Jimmy Ryan gave the home side all three points.

The Trotters twice struck the woodwork through debutant Ethan Hamilton - himself a former Dale loanee - but it wasn't to be a happy return to Keith Hill who has overseen two separate spells in charge of the victors in his managerial career.

Changes were aplenty from Hill, who made five alterations to the team that began at home to Burton Albion on New Year's Day.

Josh Earl, Jake Wright and Thibaud Verlinden have all returned to their parent clubs after spending the first half of the campaign on loan with the Trotters. Luke Murphy sat out through suspension and there was no place for James Weir, allowing for Yoan Zouma, Liam Edwards and Sonny Graham to return to the side.

Meanwhile, Toto Nsiala and Hamilton were handed debuts after joining on loan from Ipswich Town and Manchester United respectively.

In the absence of Liam Bridcutt, Jason Lowe and Jake Wright, who all took the armband last time out, Daryl Murphy was named as captain.

With the action underway, Rochdale immediately set focus on their right-hand side, looking to expose any potential weaknesses in space between Zouma and Adam Chicksen.

It took just two minutes for the first moment of goalmouth activity, with Callum Camps miscuing an overhead-kick as he looked to score from a Matheson cross.

Ronan Darcy was first to test the waters for Wanderers, firing narrowly wide of Robert Sanchez's goal five minutes later, before a deflected half-volley from former Dale loanee Hamilton bounced back off the post after he got on the end of a knockdown from Daryl Murphy.

Remi Matthews was called into action for the first time midway through the half, keeping out a long-range attempt from Ryan, moments before appeals for a penalty were turned down when Ian Henderson went to ground inside the Trotters box under a challenge from Zouma.

Joe Dodoo and Henderson both drilled wide shortly after the half-hour, while an excellent move involving Hamilton and Daryl Murphy ended with Bolton midfielder Darcy seeing a first-time effort charged down by Eoghan O'Connell.

The deadlock was broken the final minute of the half, though, as Matheson took down a bouncing ball, skipped beyond the challenges of Zouma and Hamilton before firing high into the roof of Matthews' net.

Hamilton looked for an instant response but could only find the gloves of Sanchez, as the home side took their 1-0 advantage into the half-time interval.

There were no changes as the players made their way back out onto a sodden pitch for the second period, which began with Josh Emmanuel overhitting a cross into the box when he had several options well placed for a potential equaliser.

Bolton were unfortunate not to level on 52 minutes as Hamilton played a one-two with Daryl Murphy before striking the crossbar, moments before a follow-up volley from Darcy was comfortably gathered by Sanchez.

Sanchez was called into action again three minutes later, this time keeping out a 25-yard free-kick from Hamilton, moments before a mistake at the back from Zouma allowed Henderson a clear run on goal - only for the forward to send his lobbed attempt wide of the target.

Hamilton was denied by Sanchez once again before the hour, before efforts from Aaron Wilbraham and Stephen Dooley both went over the top of Matthews' goal.

Sanchez was almost caught out from a corner midway through the half, as Darcy's curling cross was just about kept the right side of the goalline, moments before Edwards glanced a header wide from another Darcy corner.

A deflected shot from Ryan bounced just wide with 20 minutes remaining, but he did find the net from the next Dale attack as another deflected effort this time went his way - wrong-footing Matthews in the Bolton goal before nestling in the net for 2-0.

Hamilton had one final chance for Bolton as they looked find a late consolation, but Sanchez made a routine save as the home side picked up maximum points and a fourth win over the Trotters this season.

Hill's side remain bottom of the League One table, three points behind fellow strugglers Southend United. They return to action this coming Tuesday, when they face Lincoln City at the LNER Stadium.

Rochdale: Sanchez, Matheson, O'Connell, Williams, Keohane, Dooley, Ryan, Camps, Baah (Tavares 56), Henderson (Bradley 89), Wilbraham (Andrew 79)
Subs Not Used: Lynch, Delaney, Gillam, Brierley
Booked: Camps
Goals: Matheson 44, Ryan 80

Bolton Wanderers: Matthews, Chicksen, Zouma, Nsiala, Emmanuel, Edwards, Graham (Faal 66), Hamilton, Darcy, Dodoo (O'Grady 75), D Murphy
Subs Not Used: Alexander, Brockbank, Hall, Thomason, Senior
Booked: Hamilton

Referee: Leigh Doughty
Attendance: 5,560

Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
7 Plymouth Argyle 46 80
8 Oxford United 46 76
9 Bolton Wanderers 46 73
10 Portsmouth 46 73
11 Ipswich Town 46 70
View Full Standings >>


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