Harker's goal sees Shaymen earn impressive win at Rochdale

Rob Harker's goal earned FC Halifax Town an impressive 1-0 win at Rochdale.

This has to be up there with Town's win at Oldham, not only in terms of opponent beaten but also work-rate, heart, spirit and commitment.

The Shaymen were superb to a man, going into a deserved lead through Harker midway through the first-half and rarely looking threatened that it would be wiped out.

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There was a carelessness to Rochdale's play from very early on, passing as if they were already 4-0 up, half-paced and even less accurate.

Town nearly capitalised on such haphazardness when they regained the ball from a Dale throw-in before Andrew Oluwabori's shot was tipped onto the bar by Louie Moulden.

Rochdale's lax attitude was encapsulated in Town's opener when Angelo Cappello simply wanted the ball more than Jimmy Keohane before delivering an excellent low cross that Harker, one of three changes as well as Luke Summerfield and Milli Alli, finished at the far post for his third of the season.

Chris Millington wanted better quality deliveries into the box. And one had led directly to a goal.

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The hosts' first shot didn't arrive until 29 minutes in, when Tyrese Sinclair ballooned an effort way over from 25 yards.

Sam Johnson's first save arrived ten minutes later, reacting well to keep out Kairo Mitchell's shot from the left of the box.

But Rochdale were being outthought and outfought. They might have had Adam Clayton, but they didn't have The Edge.

Town were first to every loose ball, and first to most Rochdale passes too. Summerfield and Jack Evans were working so hard in midfield, Oluwabori and Alli a threat in the two number ten roles.

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Harker dug out a shot from another Cappello cross that Moulden dove low to his right to save.

There was a better stop by the Dale keeper in added time to keep out what was almost an own goal after a wayward header from a Town corner.

Also in first-half stoppage time, Harker spurned a great chance to double Halifax's lead when he header wide at the far post from Summerfield's cross.

The hosts were lucky to only be 1-0 down at the break.

The only grumble for Town was they should have extended their lead. It was to be hoped they wouldn't regret not doing so.

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Rochdale were a bit more composed after the interval, making more of their possession and they should have been level by the hour mark.

Johnson tipped Ian Henderson's effort behind, Ethan Ebanks-Landell headed the resulting corner wide, Kairo Mitchell's shot was blocked by Jamie Stott and then Sinclair blasted a shot inches wide from a short corner.

At the other end, Cappello's cross inadvertently came back off the bar, but it was Rochdale creating the chances now.

Town were no longer picking the home side off high up the pitch, but sitting deep trying to absorb pressure.

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Rochdale obliged with plenty of attacks, but weren't quick or clever enough and couldn't break Halifax down.

There were shots against the run of play by Oluwabori, off target, and Alli, straight at the keeper.

But Halifax looked like they'd declared at 1-0.

However, they did so with a solid, resilient back line that Rochdale simply could not penetrate.

Rochdale: Moulden, Keohane (Oduroh 65), Ferguson (Conway 84), Ebanks-Landell, John, East, Clayton (McDermott 84), Gilmour, Sinclair, Henderson, Mitchell. Subs not used: Taylor, Nevett.

Shots on target: 4

Shots off target: 5

Corners: 7

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Halifax: Johnson, Senior, Cummings, Stott, Golden, Summerfield, Evans (Hunter 76), Cappello (Galvin 79), Alli (Wright 85), Oluwabori, Harker. Subs not used: Keane, Cosgrave.

Scorer: Harker (22)

Shots on target: 4

Shots off target: 7

Corners: 6

Attendance: 3,491

Referee: Gary Parsons

Town man of the match: Luke Summerfield. Plenty of contenders - especially all of Town's back five - in a strong, hard-working, disciplined away performance, but Summerfield was in fine form, exuding calmness, composure and quality. Even came back on after picking up an injury to help Town see it out.