Roberts revels in Rochdale rout

PA Sport
Mark Roberts
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Mark Roberts

Caretaker player-manager Mark Roberts would not be drawn on the managerial situation at Stevenage, choosing instead to express his delight as his side began the post-Graham Westley era by demolishing Rochdale 5-1 at Spotland

Braces from Luke Freeman and Lawrie Wilson, plus a Joel Byrom effort, swept aside the hosts as Boro made light of Westley's departure to Preston just 24 hours earlier.

"It was a fine away performance," said skipper Roberts, who took charge of the team for the trip north. "We went into the match on the back of nine games unbeaten, including seven wins and we were fully focused on the job. It was a tremendous win."

He added: "We are at our best when we're on the front foot. They came at us in the first half and we had to withstand a bit more pressure than we'd have liked, but we took a 1-0 lead into half-time and managed to produce a great goalscoring performance in the second half."

Once Freeman had beaten Rochdale goalkeeper Peter Kurucz with a shot inside his near post 18 minutes in, the hosts crumbled.

Wilson doubled the lead two minutes into the second half before on-loan Blackpool striker Brett Ormerod gave the hosts hope with a well executed volley. But within seconds of that strike Stevenage restored their two-goal advantage, Wilson springing Rochdale's offside trap to fire beyond Kurucz.

Things went from bad to worse for the home side when Joe Widdowson was shown a second yellow card for a desperate lunge at Wilson, and it was game over when Freeman bagged his second just short of the hour mark. Byrom added a fifth in the 66th minute.

Rochdale's caretaker boss Chris Beech was disappointed by the way the goals were conceded, and said: "As soon as their first goal went in anxiety crept in and we didn't do what we should be doing to get back into the match. We played into the hands of Stevenage's tactics.

"We made changes at half-time because the way we were playing was just not acceptable and we got ourselves back into the game at 2-1 with a fantastic strike from Brett. But then we didn't play to the whistle and tried to play offside and they scored a third, and in the rashness around that mad five minutes we had a player sent off as well.

"The overall result looks poor, it looks bad. It's very frustrating because it's the opposite of what we've been doing. I understand it's a results business, but I know that what we're doing is good, how we're doing it is good. That players have bought into that, but at a poignant part of the game, just when we'd got back into the match, we switched off, conceded a third and had a man sent off."

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