|This wasn't so much one sided, but rather cruel and
sadistic. Chester were bullied, such was the gulf between the two sides,
and aside from a slight wobble at the start of the second half, Dale
were always likely to score a hatful tonight.
The game had possibly
the liveliest start to any Dale game this season, as both teams seemed
to go for it. Despite many fans from both sides opting to remain at
home, ignoring the bad weather and to stick with the game on television,
the players from both sides were certainly up for it, and it went end to
end from pretty much the first whistle, with Dale having to defend a
very lively corner in the opening seconds.
But Dale soon exerted their superiority over the Cestrian opponents,
and after going close on a couple of occasions, we then had the
Christopher Dagnall entry for Goal of the Season.
From some distance, he grabbed the ball, took a couple of steps
before letting fire. Who says we're not shooting early enough? Danby had
no chance whatsoever as the shot was about as perfect as you'll get. 1-0
Dale, and Dagnall's apparent lack of form remedied in one swoop.
On thirty minutes, Chester were reduced to ten men. The sending off
was to prove both controversial and crucial. It was a sending off that
wasn't helped by the conditions, but it was fully understandable why it
was given. Chester's Rule went flying in on Joe Thompson right in front
of the Dale dugout, prompting Dave Flitcroft to do a Sammy McIlroy
impression. The referee was in doubt whatsoever, and produced the red
card straight away.
The Chester bench was far from happy, and at one point Chester
manager Simon Davies went racing down the touchline to complain about
it. Shame he never managed to run down that touchline at such speed when
he used to play for us. And did you know he used to play for Manchester
United in the Champions League?
But with the extra man, we made the advantage tell with Dagnall
doubling our lead within seconds. Thompson threaded the ball through to
him, with Dagnall turning and scoring with ease.
With seconds left in the first half, Ellison showed again that he's
basically going through the motions at Chester. Despite clearly carrying
an ankle injury, he produced a moment of brilliance out of nothing to
nearly catch Sam Russell out with a curling effort. He's too good for a
side like Chester and you'd have to assume that the only reason he
remains with Chester is financial reasons. He'd be a prized asset at any
side at this level, and he knows with Chester's off the field stuff,
he'll never be achieving anything there.
The second half saw Dale come out with a certain amount of arrogance.
In our heads, the game was won, and we started playing a little bit of
fancy stuff with one or two of the players trying to ensure they scored
a fancier goal than Rundle's first. So of course, it was always going to
be Chester who scored the next goal.
Well they didn't really. Because McArdle did. A cross came over from
the left hand touchline, and untroubled we showed that the best way of
scoring is getting your head on the end of a first time cross. So he
That goal brought an air of doubt to proceedings. For around five
minutes or so, there was a genuine feeling that the result might be in
doubt. Not that the play suggested it, but with confidence perhaps not
as high as it could be, there was a worry that we were in danger of
We weren't worrying for long. Great work yet again from Joe Thompson
pulled the ball back to Dagnall, who shrugged off his marker, before
turning and firing past Danby to make it his third hat trick for the
club. After finishing, he remained down prompting fears of an injury,
but that cheeky scouse smile showed that he just fancied a bit of
limelight and who can blame him.
The history books show that he's now just one of five players to have
managed that feat. Just seven hat tricks behind Albert Whitehurst tho'
And after this, it became silly season. Chester's heads dropped like
a Joan of Arc tribute act, and double figures was even looking a
possibility at one point.
It is no exaggeration to say that the fact we only scored three more
goals in the remainder of the game flattered the visitors who had well
and truly lost all sense of competition.
It was always be a tough line to decide whether we were playing
magnificently or whether Chester really were as bad as they looked. But
they're not getting six goals put past them every other week, so it
suggests we're doing something right.
There was a touch of both comedy and class about the next goal. Will
Buckley, who seemed to avoid being tackled all night long, put in a
great cross for Joe Thompson to head home. Thompson raised his arm,
running towards the fans to celebrate before a casual look back to see
why his team mates weren't celebrating with him. JT would have stunned
to see a celebrating Lee Thorpe who got a head on it himself after
Thompson's header, with that proving to the goalscoring touch.
It was a shame that it hadn't been Thompson with the goal, because
this was another outstanding performance by Thompson. He's taken more
than his fair share of stick over the past couple of years, but forget
the old adage if they're good enough, they're old enough. If Hilly
thinks they're good enough, then they're good enough, as Hill's faith in
Thompson is starting to reap the rewards. One day, Hill will be given
the benefit of the doubt for his decisions.
Subs were made, with Alfie coming on for the ovation receiving
Dagnall and the former Stockport man was making sure that he was getting
in on the act. After beautifully beating the offside trap, Le Fondre
produced a poor first touch. Fortunately, his run was so good that he
had enough time for a second go at it, nutmegging the hapless Danby.
It was massacre time now and we were scoring at will with Chester
nothing but scared little rabbits, not so much stuck in the headlights,
but rather staring down the barrel of the farmer's gun. It was that one
side, I started to feel sorry for them. But not enough to feel sorry for
them when we got our sixth goal.
By rights, it should have been Alfie's goal. And by the time you read
this report, you've probably read in half a dozen different places that
it was Alfie's second goal in the space of a minute. Alfie got on the
end of another Thompson cross, but Will Buckley made sure he got on the
end of it. Share the wealth!
And it could have been more. Chances came, Thompson had one cleared
off the line, the post stopped Buckley finishing off, and the late sub
Rundle came close. But any more would no doubt have seen Vaughan City
call it a day.
Indeed with just five minutes or so to go, a handful of Chester fans
decided they'd seen enough, and headed down the well worn steps towards
the exits. Quite what had kept them at the game until this point is
unsure. Maybe they held hopes of a dramatic comeback, snatching a point,
but finally gave up the ghost at this stage. Something with five minutes
to go had clearly tipped them over the edge.
But they'd already seen the worst of it, and other than Dale coming
close to adding to the lead, the seventh goal never came and those
departing Chester fans can rightly claim that they'd seen enough.
So six goals and the first hat trick of the season. The weather may
well have been pretty awful, but the sun was shining throughout at
Spotland tonight. Job done.