By Ryan Brookes
York City fell to a 3-1 defeat at home to Rochdale on Bank Holiday Monday in the Vanarama National League.
Following on from the Minstermen’s 2-2 draw away at Dorking Wanderers just a couple of days earlier, manager Michael Morton was forced into just a single change, with Zanda Siziba replacing the suspended Lenell John-Lewis.
Backed by a strong away following, it was Rochdale who aimed to start on the front foot, and notched the first shot after just two minutes, with Tyrese Sinclair cutting inside and bending a looping effort just wide of Ryan Whitley’s far post.
Ten minutes later, the visitors came even closer, the ball dropping to Ryan East inside the box, who took a touch before his fierce strike was tipped over the bar by Whitley.
The resulting corner provided another opportunity for Dale with Kyle Ferguson nodding onto the roof of the net.
Rarely did City see much of the ball in the final third in the opening half-hour, though they did have a few penalty shouts turned down.
Rochdale thought they had taken a deserved lead on 29 minutes, but the offside flag came to the rescue for York, chalking off a Cameron John tap-in.
Harvey Gilmour was next to try his luck for the Dale, getting played into a tight angle, but his eventual shot was well tipped onto the post by Whitley.
It seemed the opener had been coming for a while, and sure it did for the visitors on 35 minutes, with Sinclair dispatching from the spot.
Referee Richard Aspinall had pointed to the penalty mark having witnessed a debatable foul that evolved from a corner, and in the process, yellow cards were awarded to the Minstermen’s centre-back pairing of Tyler Cordner and Callum Howe, before Rochdale’s number seven brilliantly struck his spot-kick into the top corner.
Six minutes added on offered City time to try and find a reply before the break – a bit of head tennis inside the 18-yard box saw them nearly snatch a leveller, but Siziba’s effort was never going to trouble Louie Moulden, who caught with ease.
An injury to Maziar Kouhyar lengthened the half even more, but at the expense of Jim McNulty’s travelling side.
A free kick from distance was hit like a rocket by City star striker Dipo Akinyemi, and would have found the top corner had it not been for a superb diving save from the Dale ‘keeper to deny it.
The corner that followed was swung in brilliantly by Kouhyar, and connected with the head of Adam Crookes at the front post, who directed it over the crowd of players and into the far corner, sparking celebrations in the home end, as York had somehow managed to find themselves heading in level at the break, thanks to that goal twelve minutes deep into stoppage time.
Within two minutes of restarting for the second half, the Minstermen looked to gain the high ground in the match, with Kouhyar using a bit of skill to get the ball over to Akinyemi on the left of goal, and the latter shooting at the near post, forcing Moulden to turn behind.
However, the momentum was quickly swung again, as York scorer Crookes was shown red for fouling his man in the area, and the referee only piled on the misery with a second penalty awarded to Rochdale.
Sinclair would step up again, and he would replicate his initial one with another excellent strike high into the net, restoring the lead for the away team on 53 minutes.
Kairo Mitchell could have extended the advantage five minutes later, firing one from the edge of the box, but his effort was just wide of the far post.
City looked to get themselves back into it with an occasional ball into the box, but Howe’s powerful downward header was pushed wide from the bottom corner by the ‘keeper.
Approaching the 80-minute mark, Morton’s ten men were still desperately hunting for an equalizer, and somehow, Akinyemi didn’t find it with a header tipped onto the crossbar.
A matter of minutes later, Akinyemi found the ball at his feet at close range, but again he agonizingly smashed the chance against the bar.
That would be the last and best chance for the Minstermen, as Ian Henderson was played through by a fellow yellow shirt on 87 minutes, and made no mistake in finishing the move, cleverly dinking it over Whitley for Dale’s third.
City failed to find anything in the seven minutes added on and remain in search of their first win of the season.
York City: Whitley, Fallowfield ©, Cordner, Howe, Crookes, Batty (McLaughlin 45’), Dyson, Stott (Latty-Fairweather 55’), Siziba (Kennedy 74’), Akinyemi, Kouhyar
Unused Subs: Watson, Castro
Rochdale: Moulden, John (Taylor 73’), East, Ebanks-Landell © (McDermott 90+3’), Sinclair (Conway 80’), Mitchell, Keohane, Oduroh, Gilmour, Ferguson, Henderson
Unused Subs: Nevett, Afuye
Referee: Richard Aspinall
Attendance: 5,466 (862 away supporters)
Waitrose & Partners Man of the Match: Callum Howe
Waitrose & Partners Man of the Match Image: Mark Comer