POST MATCH RAMBLE: Rochdale -v- Wednesday

POST MATCH RAMBLE: Rochdale -v- Wednesday

Ok, let me clear a few things up before we go on…I am not a fan of the FA Cup.

Well, I’m not a fan anymore…Don’t get me wrong, when I was kid I loved it…it was magic…genuinely, really magic…more magic than Derren Brown, more magic than that American bloke who stands on poles…even more magic than Paul Daniels though obviously, not a lot!

As a young Beastie I loved watching the cup final…What was there to dislike about it…back then?

It was always sunny…ALWAYS! It was footy law…

And just because your team wasn’t in the final didn’t detract from any of the grand occasion of it all…

You just picked a side and for the day they were YOUR team. It was usually the underdogs or any team playing against Leeds…again that was the law…

On FA Cup morning it was almost like Christmas, you got up, turned the telly on and straight after ya cartoons it was footy all the way. You watched it from that morning start right up to teatime and beyond, in fact right up to Doctor Who…

Black and White Photo FA Cup

The FA Cup on ya tellybox

The cameras following the teams, the coaches, the training…the camaraderie….how the teams got to the final, who they beat, the stories in the team, someone always had a relative who played in the 1508 Cup final….and they always found footage and it was always emotional, you felt as if the teams were your teams…

You were drawn into the match because the commentators were part of your life…you knew them, you trusted them…they’d never sell you a wrong un and whatever they said was gospel…it wasn’t a matter of opinion, it was just plain old fact….they kept you glued to the telly right to the very end and the final whistle was always emotional….

You didn’t hate the opposition, you always thought…mmm…they played well…they gave their all….they were unlucky…you shared the disappointment you really did, the agony and the ecstasy in equal measures, something you can’t do when it’s your own team.

I remember going outside during a cup final one day, the streets were empty…it wasn’t a local team at Wembley it was ‘just another’ cup final but the streets in Yorkshire, around us anyway, were deserted…

It all added to making cup day…THE cup day…THE FA Cup final the best day of the football season…it drew a line under the season, it was always the last thing on the calendar and it made you want the next season to hurry along and arrive…

It’s not like that anymore…

I don’t know exactly when I started to change my view of the FA Cup or what it was that tipped me over the edge but it not being the last game of the season all the time, not being played at Wembley during the stadium flit, teams not caring about it as much at the top, the cost of it all, the squeeze it puts on league fixtures…I don’t know…a combination of all those things I suppose..

I admit, a lot of it is down to me personally at the moment and my own financial circumstances which don’t help in trying to fit those extra games in and moreover SWFC’s financial circumstances….

I think our club is at a stage where we can always do without the distraction of the cup…

WAIT! WAIT! Before ya start shoutin’ and ropin’…

Yawn

Not this again Beastie!

I know, I know you’re right, I AM being irrational……you can all argue the point about keeping a winning run going, that it brings cash to the club, that the feelgood factor will benefit the club and fans…all of that and I can’t argue with any of you, it’s sound debate…

However…until we’re in a better situation as a club, until we’re settled in this division with good cash backing and on a solid footing I don’t want a backlog of games at the end of the season because we had a ‘bit of a cup run’….

It could be detrimental to us…we need to stay in the Championship more than we need a cup run because the financial implications of going down cannot be rectified by the FA Cup.

I had a little natter about this with JFD at halftime with him saying ‘I thought you were like me, a football romantic?’ and I am…at heart, I truly am  but I really do see the league as the only thing nowadays…

A more difficult, personal thing is that all my days off centre around Saturdays. I’ve moved heaven and earth to get Saturdays off and to make my season ticket worth it’s cost and if those league games, especially home games are moved then I will lose out…I can’t afford to lose season ticket games because if I have a Saturday off then chances are I’ll be paying for it by working Tuesdays.

I hate to miss games…whether it’s cup or league I hate it and I will always try to make them…but eventually, when things like this happen,  you just have to give in….

I don’t like being drawn against uninspiring clubs either…usually championship clubs…but I loved this draw.

Spotland

I love this place

I love Rochdale and I love Spotland…the surrounding area is great, the walk to the ground from wherever you end up parking is belting and the ground itself is a proper football ground…I kid you not, when I enter this ground my heart is warmed and  it does my football mojo the world of good

It’s a nothing of a trip over the Pennines to get here from our house, even I can’t get lost on this away day…45 minutes door to door and as right as ya like…even the driving, unrelenting rain couldn’t slow us down or drive us off our route and the Young Un too is on board with the football magicness of going to Spotland…we love it and the mood on the trip was great all the way.

We ended up parking on a side street, this time there were no yellow lines so I parked with confidence and we made the short walk, a couple of hundred yards to the ground…and inside to our seats
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THE MATCH

This was never gonna be an easy game for us…they’re no mugs Rochdale as they showed against everybody’s favourite drubsters Leeds in the last round and so it proved this time around for us too…

Right from the off they wouldn’t let us settle and Keith Hill had obviously told them to make sure our players know they were in a game…when you’re the underdogs that is exactly the way to play a cup game…OK it might be debatable about how much more skill we have than them but if you work hard and don’t give the higher placed opposition time on the ball you can at least leave the pitch knowing you’ve made em work hard.

Despite their endeavours first half our midfield had their measure and we looked to be controlling the game quite comfortably and for once, when the opposition did go in a little too hard the ref was on the spot to issue a warning and give a free kick…don’t get me wrong, they weren’t a dirty side, nor were Rochdale simply a ‘physical’ side that wouldn’t do them justice at all but they weren’t bottling out of challenges and they were very strong…

They had their moments in the first half too and they got forward quickly but just like our midfield, the defence was equal anything Dale had with the two centre halves easily having their measure, especially when it came to playing the offside trap, both stepping up effortlessly and more importantly, together….it was frustrating for the home side and more than a little worrying for us in the stands because they looked as though they had broken through our defence a few times only to see the flag go up and halt them in their tracks…thankfully.

It was a great relief from our view as it looked very close indeed and seeing an opposition player behind our defence and in acres of space isn’t good for the ticker. At times that flag going up was like a defib’ getting our faltering hearts beating again…

We had some reasonable chances in this opening half without really causing too much of a workload for the home keeper.

Semedo Away Shirt

Fighting the good fight

Semedo seemed to be at the centre of most things, battling to win the ball, harrying Rochdale in possession and some creative passing too…a couple of times his passes falling agonisingly inches short of perfection and putting a Wednesday player through and beyond the home defence…

We did get better chances though, a corner falling to Kieran Lee whose blasted shot was blocked in the box…a few free kicks too ended up high and wide or comfortably into the arms of the Dale keeper.

We probably had the upper hand for the first half hour and we should have made better use of it because as the half pressed on Rochdale began to get a foothold in the game and our passing became very ragged indeed.

The biggest culprit for us was Maghoma who seems to take on more and more of the worst attributes of JJ with every game…not only does he try to do too much with the ball when a pass is the better option but he isn’t quite as good as he believes he is and Rochdale were starting to get the measure of him…

Still we weathered the little upturn in play by the home side and we ended the half on the up with a great chance falling to Nuhiu on the edge of the box which he really should have done better with…he was in acres and clear, he just needed to keep his head but he looked uncomfortable from the moment he took the ball and couldn’t get it onto his favoured side…needless to say the ball ended up over the stand.

A little unluckier was our new American centre half ‘Gooch’ who rose majestically for a corner nodding the ball downward and goalward only to see it pushed around the post…he was ready to celebrate was the big lad, he thought it was home but he was stopped in his tracks by the push away…

Maghoma Away Shirt

Hit and Miss Maghoma

There was just time for Maghoma to try and make amends for some of his slack play but he put his shot just wide. It was a real pity because the build-up play to it was slick and fast and deserved a good finish. It was the last play of the half right on the halftime whistle…

It was a promising half for us but we needed to make those opportunities pay but I was reasonably happy with the game so far and so were most of the Wednesday fans, confident that we’d get the break through in the second half.
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The second half started with Rochdale trying to impose themselves a little more but it was to no avail as we struck first…

We got a corner taken by Maguire in front of the Wednesday fans and the ball was nodded home by Joe Mattock….as the players ran over and celebrated right in front of the Wednesday fans it was a stunning blow for Rochdale and worse was to come minutes later….

Rochdale hadn’t fully recovered from that body blow when again we got another corner, this time taken by Mattock I think…the ball is floated in and after a fashion, with a few air kicks in between, the ball lands at the feet of the Gooch who is determined to make the ball his and hammer it home, which he does in no uncertain terms…absolutely blams it into the back of the net from inside the 6 yard box…

Gooch scores

A determined goal getting ‘Gooch’

Immediately the Wednesday fans started the chant…

USA, USA, USA, USA

A goal and an assist for Joe Mattock to add to him having a pretty good game and all was well with the world for the Wednesday players and fans alike…as far as we were concerned we were on our way into the next round…

Rochdale had other ideas…

As the weather worsened they set about getting back into the cup tie and started taking the game to us a little more.
Within a couple of minutes of going two goals up and thinking we were home and dry, despite the best efforts of the weather, Rochdale were back in the game..

Their good attacking play resulted in a corner down our end and right in front of us….

The weather worsened at the very moment the corner was taken…it started as rain and as the ball flew through the air the rain changed to sleet….by the time it had landed at the feet of Rochdale’s Michael Rose the sleet had changed to hail and with most of our players turning away from the driving hail into their faces Rose had time to control it and blast the ball past Martinez and into the Wednesday net…it was a superb goal.

Rose Rochdale scores

Goal of the day for Rose

Rose was stood a few yards outside the D, around 20 yards out, he took a touch and hit the ball…without a Wednesday player anywhere near him…of course a few rushed out to him but they were nowhere near, someone should have picked him up but they didn’t…it still needed great skill and composure to finish the goal and that’s what happened. Probably goal of the day in the competition, kudos to the lad and on overall play no one could begrudge them it…

Of course it lifted the home fans, they made plenty of noise, rightly so…and as you’d expect it lifted the players too and they continued to press us in an effort to level the game. Their task got a little easier just after the hour mark when Joe Mattock was dismissed for a second bookable offence.

At the time we all thought it was a poor decision and it happened right down in front of us but having seen it again I can’t really argue with it. Mattock did lift his foot as the Dale player went through and it was a bookable offence. It was daft of the lad to be honest. He was having a cracking game, defending well, getting forward well, he’d scored and had a hand in the other goal and now he could undo all of that with a silly mistake.

The Wednesday fans weren’t happy about the decision and booed the ref for the remainder of the game…Within minutes of that dismissal Stuart Gray took off Lavery and replaced him with Helan who slotted straight in at left back…and fits that spot so well. The Young Un loves to see H on the pitch, whether it’s as part of the Reda/H pairing or just on his own and he DOES play that left back position well…pace and skill accompanied in short supply by a bit of nous…the dismissal shouldn’t make that much difference to our style of play now and it was a good move by the caretaker manager.

It might not have had a huge effect on us but Rochdale were spurred on by it and we were under the cosh for pretty much the rest of the game now…Don’t get me wrong, we had our moments, including a corner delivered perfectly into the box which was allowed to go across untouched by a Wednesday player when it only needed the slightest of touches to send it home but despite the odd moment of respite Rochdale had the lion’s share of play and they pressed us really well, fortunately for us they just couldn’t break through and get a meaningful shot on target.

Gooch waves to fans

A good performance by the Gooch

Most of that was down to our great defending and especially our centre halves who were immense…it may have been a dodgy baptism for Onyewu last week at Burnley but today his performance was magnificent and alongside the Gloov they look, even at this early stage, to be settling in together and working well.

As hard as Rochdale huffed and chuffed we held them out and without being disrespectful it kinda felt like holding a small kid swinging punches at arm’s reach…in the end it was a job well done. It wasn’t easy, not by any stretch of the imagination but it was done in a good, professional manner, red card notwithstanding and Rochdale gave a good account of themselves.

The Wednesday players came over to the fans to take the applause and offer it back and we chanted our way out of Spotland and up the road to our transport….and no parking ticket!

It had been a thoroughly enjoyable day at one of my favourite football places and we were through to the next round for the first time in yonks….

I love the FA Cup I do….and I can’t wait for that draw now.

I don’t care who it is as long as it gets the footy juices flowing….my idea of FA Cup Draw hell would be to draw Charlton at home in the next round…I tell ya now, I’d be a big bag of chunter if that happened.

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Cheers
Steve:Beastie
Owls Alive
E-Mail: Admin@Owlsalive.com
Twitter: @Owlsalive or @Beastie_


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