Latics were left frustrated at Spotland as Rochdale score five second-half goals to secure a confidence boosting victory in the final fixture of pre-season.
As Latics made the short journey over to Rochdale for a behind-closed-doors training game, Keith Curle named a host of changes as he missed a handful of players with the notable introduction of promising academy products Harry Vaughan and Junior Luamba.
The hosts began the encounter on the front foot and Abraham Odoh had the first opportunity of the game. Conor Grant won the ball in the middle of the park before driving with intent towards the Latics area, he had the vision to slot Odoh through towards the left-hand side, but his low shot was weak and easily saved.
Moments later, Carl Piergianni lost possession deep inside his own half to Grant and, once again, the midfielder had the awareness to tee up teammate Jake Beesley, however, the Rochdale forward was excellently denied by Trialist A.
Curle’s men, wearing the tangerine away kit, grew into the game and began to ask questions of Dale’s trialist heavy defence. First of all, Davis Keillor-Dunn raced to the byline before delivering a low cross into the area which was met by Andrea Badan, but his scuffed attempt went the wrong side of the post.
The Italian full-back wasn’t finished there in his search to get on the scoresheet as he dribbled into the penalty box and teased a few defenders with step-overs before sharply shifting left to strike low and hard across goal, but it was off target.
Just before the interval, Robbie Stockdale’s side had three fantastic opportunities to take the lead but were incredibly prevented by Trialist A. Stephen Dooley skipped past Kyle Jameson and then picked out Odoh with his cross, but the former Charlton Athletic attacker witnessed his low strike being kept out.
Following that, the persistent Grant received the ball inside the box, and he opened up his body to powerfully strike towards the right top corner but, once again, Trialist A was equal to it. And, then their trialist wearing no.19 got on the end of the delivery into the area and his header looked goal bound, however, the ‘keeper parried it away to the frustration of the home side.
Early in the second-half, Dale broke the deadlock through one of their own in Aaron Morley. The young midfielder tried his luck from around 20-yards and his low drilled strike smashed into the far bottom corner, leaving Trialist C with no chance.
Morley nearly doubled his tally for the afternoon when his side won a free-kick in a promising position on the edge of the box, his curling attempt across goal was well saved by the ‘keeper.
However, from the resulting corner, the experienced Jim McNulty extended his team’s lead in the game as he found himself free at the back post to steer his header in from close range.
It was three in the 64th minute as Alex Newby produced quick footwork down the right-flank before his low drilled cross was deflected by substitute Sam Hart into this own goal.
They added another courtesy of Beesley, son of former Sheffield United and Manchester City defender Paul Beesley, as the ball was laid off to the striker inside the box and he kept his composure to blast his effort into the top corner.
Keillor-Dunn sparked belief back into his teammates as he picked up possession before dribbling forwards with his head up to be able to unlock the Dale backline to get Vani Da Silva one-on-one with the goalkeeper, however, he was left frustrated as his effort was comfortably saved.
Unfortunately, the Dale weren’t finished in front of goal and made it five in the around the 76th minute through the long-serving Matty Done. They constructed a fluid move down the left-wing before space opened up perfectly for the winger and he slotted into the near corner.
Latics pulled a consolation back when Trialist D received the ball out wide before showing bravery to cut inside and drive at defenders and, with space opening up, the wing-back powerfully struck goalwards which proved to be too hot to handle for the ‘keeper.
Head Coach Keith Curle gave his thoughts after the game; “Our friendly against Rochdale served a purpose and that was to get minutes into the legs of the lads who haven’t played as much this month.
“Naturally the scoreline isn’t great and we’ll address that over the next couple of days with our post-match work. Now we have to remain focused and make sure we’re all fighting fit and ready for the first league game of the season next weekend.
“Our preparation over July has been good and we’ve seen improvements in the way we’ve been able to work on our tactics, but this fixture was another test and an opportunity for some players to take responsibility and they know that.
“It’s a busy week ahead and plenty for myself and the staff to ponder over but we remain confident we can make a positive impact from the start with the backing of our fans who have been excellent in the matches they’ve been able to watch.”
Rochdale XI – Lynch (Trialist 62’), Trialist, Trialist (Graham 62’), McNulty, Trialist (Keohane 62’), Morley, Dooley (Brierley 62’), Grant, Newby (Jesus 70’), Odoh (Done 62’), Beesley (Dunne 81’).
Goals: Morley 49’, McNulty 55’, Hart OG 64’, Beesley 66’, Done 76’
Oldham Athletic XI – Trialist A (GK) (Trialist C 46’), Fage, Clarke (Hart 62’), Piergianni © (Sutton 72’), Jameson, Badan (Adams 62’), Trialist B, Diarra (Trialist D 44’), Vaughan (Da Silva 52’), Luamba (Dearnley 62’), Keillor-Dunn.
Goals: Trialist D 79’
The Ernie Cooksey Trophy will be played for when supporters are back in attendance for the upcoming local fixture later in the year.