Rochdale came from a goal down to secure a replay against Newcastle United in the third round of the FA Cup.
Newcastle went into Saturday’s match the clear favourites over their League One opponents, and it showed immediately on the pitch.
The Magpies were dominant throughout the first half, with a massive 75% percent of possession and 11 shots, including five on target.
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They were however, frustrated by Rochdale’s strong defensive effort including decent performances by Eoghan O’Connell and keeper Robert Sanchez.
Joelinton, Deandre Yedlin and Miguel Almiron were particularly lively in front of the goal, with Almiron ultimately making the breakthrough in the 18th minute.
Rochdale manager Brian Barry-Murphy made another change at the break to bring on the more experienced Aaron Wilbraham, one-time Norwich City and Crystal Palace forward, hoping the imposing player might bring some much-needed physicality.
Whatever the change at halftime, it seemed to work as a flurry of opportunities came to the Dales, and suddenly they appeared to be back in the tie.
Newcastle took their feet off the gas as the second half went on, allowing substitute Wilbraham to make the difference in the 79th minute, thanks to a wonderful pass by a lively Luke Matheson, also subbed on earlier in the first half.
Though the visitors picked the pace back up again in the remaining ten minutes, it was not enough to regain the advantage and the teams will now face each other for a rematch at St James’ Park.
TALKING POINT - Could Rochdale overturn Newcastle?
In the FA Cup, anything can happen, and for at least part of today’s fixture, it looked as if it might. After a much-improved second half Rochdale will go into the rematch with the belief now certainly that they could end up the victors, and Newcastle will have to take their threat seriously.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Aaron Wilbraham
Wilbraham had tough competition from Oliver Rathbone, who played a strong attacking game in the second half, and keeper Sanchez who made some key saves. However it was veteran Wilbraham who made the real difference bringing real physical presence.
Rochdale: Sanchez 7, O'Connell 7, Dooley 6, Williams 6, Camps 6, Keohane 6, Rathbone 7, Ryan 6, Magloire 5, Baah 5, Henderson 6. Subs: McLaughlin 6, Wilbraham 7, Matheson 7.
Newcastle: Dubravka 6, Yedlin 7, Krafth 7, Fernandez 6, Hayden 6, Atsu 7, S Longstaff 6, M Longstaff 6, Almiron 7, Muto 7, Joelinton 6. Subs: Sung-Yueng 6, Ritchie 6.
18’ GOAL! Almiron shoots from the far edge of the box from an Atsu ball in. It's a lovely finish.
57’ CHANCE! Rathbone has a shot on goal for Rochdale and it's a good one, but it's saved by Dubravka. Henderson looks to follow it up, but he's offside.
59’ POST! Henderson has another go and this time it's very close, he gets a foot to a rebounding ball from the keeper, but it just hits the post.
73’ CLOSE! A sublime first touch by Matheson as he plays the ball across to Rathbone in the box. A great chance there but he doesn't quite connect with it as he should. A bit of fire in the bellies of the Rochdale side now.
79’ GOAL! Wilbraham equalises! The 40-year-old receives the ball from Matheson on the right wing. He's sandwiched between two Newcastle defenders but left-foots it into the back of the net.
Rochdale have only ever beaten one top-flight side - Coventry in 1971.
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