Lancashire Senior Cup First Round
Rochdale vs. Manchester United
Venue: Ewen Fields
Date: Wednesday, 9 September 2015
Kick-off: 19:00 BST
Manchester United booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Lancashire Senior Cup, with a 3-2 win over Rochdale.
An entertaining game at Hyde United’s Ewen Fields, an Ashley Fletcher’s hat-trick gave the visitors the victory needed to progress.
His first two came within the opening 20 minutes, before Lewis Alessandra pulled one back on the stroke of half-time.
Fletcher completed his scoring with an early second half penalty, before Michael Rose converted Rochdale’s own penalty, to give United a nervy finish, but they held on to the win.
An early hamstring injury for Rhys Bennett disrupted Rochdale’s approach, and Fletcher was pulled back by Scott Tanser inside the penalty area, but no penalty was awarded.
Fletcher then scored a brace in the matter of minutes, first closing in on Callum Camps after Johny Diba’s short goal-kick, and winning the ball, running into the box, and expertly finishing across Diba and into the bottom left-hand corner.
His second came after Sean Goss’ played a sublime diagonal pass over the top in which Fletcher’ first touch took the ball past the onrushing Diba, and he passed the ball into the empty net.
Nathaniel Mendez-Laing saw his shot deflect wide after Camps had attempted an acrobatic effort, before the latter dragged a shot wide in a later move.
Mendez-Laing teed up Alessandra, who took a touch to set before firing towards goal, only for Dean Henderson to produce a smart save that saw him palm the ball away and out of danger.
Alessandra did have his goal in added time at the end of the first half, as his neat one-two with Camps allowed him to finish off the move with his left foot.
United restored their two-goal lead just seconds after the restart, with Cameron Borthwick-Jackson winning a penalty after latching onto Josh Harrop’s through ball.
Diba dived to his left, but Fletcher went down the middle, to complete his hat-trick.
Camps played a fine through ball to Alessandra, but the latter’s lob beat Henderson but fell wide of the target.
James Weir’s dink deflected over before Rochdale pulled another one back, as Axel Tuanzebe brought down Mendez-Laing, and Rose dually obliged to score from the penalty spot.
Mendez-Laing was involved again as his cross was nodded back across goal by substitute Nyal Bell, only for Henderson to make a point blank save from Joe Bunney.
Another substitute, Billy Hasler-Cregg, tapped home Bunney’s low cross, only for it to be ruled out for offside.
Having already scored from one dead ball situation, Rose stepped up for a free-kick, but it was a comfortable save for Henderson, as Camps’ shot from distance was deflected over, as United finally dealt with a melee of corners.
The impressive yet frustrated Camps saw a powerful shot saved by Henderson, who collected the loose ball at the second attempt.
Slack passing from United in a dangerous area led to the busy Henderson having to tip over Alessandra’s effort from the edge of the penalty area.
Some last-ditch defending ensured United progressed to the quarter-finals, with Henderson, making his debut at this level, particularly impressing between the sticks.
This fixture came at a welcome time for Warren Joyce’s side, having not played since August 10, and awaiting their next fixture on September 21, where they play host to Everton.
A job well done, and having lost to the same opponents in the same competition on penalties at the semi-final stage last season, United will feel a sense of vindication, and see this as a chance of silverware.
Manchester United: Henderson; Varela, Tuanzebe, Love, Borthwick-Jackson; Redmond, Goss; Riley (Rashford 68), Harrop (El Fitouri 77), Weir; Fletcher.
Subs: Rashford, Dorrington, Rathbone, El Fitouri, McTominay.
Manager: Warren Joyce
Rochdale: Diba; Rose, Bennett (Barry-Murphy 10), Eastham, Tanser (Bell 61); Mendez-Laing (Hasler-Cregg 77), Noble-Lazarus, Lund, Camps; Alessandra, Camps.
Subs: Collis, Barry-Murphy, Bell, Hasler-Cregg, Hooper.
Manager: Keith Hill