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Ipswich Town 0-0 Rochdale - Half-Time
Saturday, 26th Sep 2020 16:02

Town’s game at home to Rochdale remains 0-0 at half-time despite striker Oli Hawkins having come close on a number of occasions during the first period.

Striker Hawkins was handed his Blues full league debut in a team otherwise unchanged team from the one which started last week’s 2-0 win at Bristol Rovers.

Hawkins, whose only previous Town start was in the Carabao Cup tie against Fulham, came into the side for James Norwood, who dropped to the bench.

Again among the subs was Flynn Downes, while there was no place in the 18 for new loan signing Mark McGuinness or Luke Woolfenden, Kayden Jackson, Cole Skuse and Alan Judge, who were all back in training this week after knocks.

For Rochdale, skipper Eoghan O’Connell recovered from a knock to take his place at the heart of their defence. Jake Beesley, the son of ex-Blues kit man Paul, who signed from Solihull Moors earlier in the week, started up front.

The two teams took the knee in support of Black Lives Matter prior to kick-off with rain falling steadily and the wind swirling, although not as strongly as earlier in the day.

Town started on the front foot with Rochdale and on five Hawkins headed well over from a Stephen Ward cross from the left and with referee John Busby having blown his whistle for a push.

The visitors claimed a penalty in the sixth minute when Andre Dozzell chested a loose ball back towards Tomas Holy after the keeper had failed to deal with a corner from the right.

Referee Busby wasn’t interested and Town broke quickly after Teddy Bishop had cleared as he was fouled but Jon Nolan failed to find Freddie Sears with a return pass. Once the ball had gone out of play, Jimmy Ryan was booked for the earlier foul on Bishop.

There was further danger for the Blues in the 10th minute as they repeatedly failed to clear their lines inside the box and the ball fell to Alex Newby, who would have scored b for Toto Nsiala’s challenge.

Rochdale were on top and in the 12th minute, with the rain falling more heavily, Aaron Morley shot into the side-netting from the edge of the area.

Town would have been ahead a minute later but for a brilliant save by Dale keeper Gavin Bazunu. Bishop crossed from the right and 6ft 5in tall Hawkins climbed high to power a goalbound header which the Bazunu, an 18-year-old Irish U21 international on loan from Manchester City, somehow managed to bat away from his goal to his right.

Hawkins went even closer in the 16th minute when he turned and shot from the 18-yard line leaving Bazunu standing as the ball struck the outside of his right post.

Rochdale were next the threaten, Matthew Lund crossing from the right but just in front of Oliver Rathbone and Beesley as they slid in inside the six-yard box.

A Town spell of pressure followed and in the 26th minute Hawkins again went close to opening his Blues goals account. Ward crossed from the right and the former Portsmouth man headed down back towards the corner of goal but without too much power and Dale captain O’Connell was was able to stop it in front of the line and clear.

As the game passed the half hour mark the visitors were again seeing most of the ball and on 31, following a short corner on the left, Rathbone struck a shot from the edge of the box which only just flew over Holy’s cross bar, Town having once again failed to clear their lines on several occasions prior to the flag-kick.

On 36 Wilson found Chambers on the right with a cross-field pass, the skipper sent the ball into the box and it fell to Nolan on the edge of the area from where the midfielder struck a powerful low effort which the impressive Bazunu again did well to save and claim at the second attempt.

Four minutes later, Sears crossed back in from the right and the ball was headed out from under the bar by Jimmy Keohane having beaten Bazunu.

In the 41st minute the action moved back to the other end. Keohane crossed from the right and the ball slid off Newby’s head and wide when he might well have hit the target.

That an entertaining end-to-end half finished without a goal having been scored was a surprise with both teams having had opportunities.

Town, and specifically Hawkins, had come closest to breaking the deadlock but Rochdale had given as good as they’d got and at times had been on top in conditions which had led to errors from both sides as they sought to play their passing football, sometimes in dangerous areas.

Town: Holy, Chambers (c), Nsiala, Wilson, Ward, Dozzell, Nolan, Bishop, Sears, Edwards, Hawkins. Subs: Cornell, Norwood, Donacien, Lankester, Downes, Kenlock, Huws.

Rochdale: Bazunu, McShane, O’Connell (c), Morley, Newby, Beesley, Keohane, Rathbone, Done, Ryan, Lund. Subs: Lynch, McNulty, Dooley, Tavares, Hopper, Brierley, Dunne. Referee: John Busby (Oxfordshire).

Photo: Matchday Images

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