A highly dubious penalty, two red cards and six yellow cards saw the Shakers visit to the Crown Oil Arena end a miserable one and left the Shakers gaffer, David Flitcroft, bemoaning a referee’s performance that had him seething at the end of the game.
Rochdale started the game quickly and had worked themselves a half-chance on goal within the first 15 seconds with Nathaniel Mendez-Laing scuffing his shot out of play from the corner of the Shakers six-yard area and it was the same player, some two minutes later, that brought the first save of the afternoon from Ben Williams who, somehow, managed to snake a foot out towards the shot and deflected the effort away from goal.
It took three minutes for the Shakers to get the ball wide to Zeli Ismail and his first touch saw him drop a shoulder and leave his man for dead with one flick of the ball and sprint away, down the flank. When the cross from the corner came in, James Vaughan rose and met the ball with his head but he saw his effort deflect out for a corner, the resulting corner from Mellis, again, found Vaughan and his looping header on target was plucked out of the air by Dale ‘keeper, Josh Lillis.
Jacob Mellis, back in the Shakers side following suspension, produced two challenges within the space of a minute that brought the home supporters to their feet baying for blood yet, strangely, neither brought a reaction from referee Peter Bankes.
The first yellow card of the afternoon came on 15 minutes when a lunge for the ball from Niall Maher, again, brought the home supporters to their feet and this time referee Bankes awarded the free kick and produced a yellow for Maher.
On twenty minutes, James Vaughan collected a short pass from Ismail and, following a quick look up into the box, Vaughan curled a cross into the back post where Neil Danns rose to head the ball at goal, but could only watch as Lillis rose to push the ball out for another Bury corner.
Another chance for the Shakers came, minutes later, when a powerful, surging, run from Tom Soares released the ball wide to Danny Mayor and, with plenty of room to manoeuvre, Mayor cut into the box neat the touchline and fired the ball at goal, only for Lillis, again, to thwart the effort with another save.
Controversy came on 36 minutes when Lund stole into the box from a wide angle, Mellis went into make the challenge on the Rochdale player only for Lund to, suddenly, lurch forward and find himself spread eagled on the floor. Referee Peter Bankes immediately pointed to the spot and awarded the penalty to Rochdale. The entire Rochdale dugout later admitted to the dive and also a local photographer was on hand confirming there was no contact and he had the photo to prove it.
Henderson stepped up to slam the ball home from the penalty spot, sending Ben Williams the wrong way as Henderson sent into the opposite corner.
Goal: Rochdale 1 Bury 0 (Henderson (Pen))
Another yellow card came Bury’s way on 41 minutes when Tom Soares caught Lund on the ankle following a meaty challenge.
As half time approached, the ball fell to Neil Danns on the edge of the area, as he pulled the trigger to shoot on goal, he suddenly had his feet whipped away from under him resulting in a Bury free kick right on the edge of the Bury box.
James Vaughan’s free kick struck the wall and Antony Kay followed up with a fierce shot but saw his effort blocked and the same again from Danny Mayor as the rebounding ball fell at his feet.
With half time looming, a Bury free kick that had been worked on the training ground, failed as Rochdale read the pass and quickly broke down the field with the ball. Greg Leigh charged up the field tracking Mendez-Laing and just managed to get a toe on the ball putting it out of play as the half time whistle came.
Half time: Rochdale 1 Bury 0
Neither side made any changes at the break and it took some six minutes of play for the first chance to come in the second period and, when it did come, it came from a Danny Mayor cross. Mayor had worked the ball down the flank and produced a telling ball into the box, unfortunately for Bury though neither James Vaughan or Neil Danns managed to get the touch it needed and the ball sailed harmlessly across the area before drifting out of play.
More good work from Ismail on the opposite flank on 56 minutes produced a shot that the Rochdale defence blocked and though the ball fell nicely for James Vaughan on the edge of the box his first time shot rose high over the Rochdale bar.
Ben Williams kept the Shakers in the game on the hour with a fine, quick, double save. The first shot from Henderson saw Williams somehow stop the ball from crossing the line and the second came from the initial rebound with Mendez Laing watching as Williams rose quickly to tip the effort over the bar.
Bury did get the ball into the back of the net from James Vaughan on 62 minutes but a harshly raised flag from the assistant referee saw the effort disallowed.
Within five minutes, Williams had again pulled off another great save in preventing a low drive from Henderson from finding the target, but he was powerless moments later when Mendez-Laing rifled a shot in from the corner of the box that found the opposite corner of the goal.
Goal: Rochdale 2 Bury 0 (Mendez-Laing 75)
Bury’s afternoon got worse on 77 minutes when Kean Bryan lunged in on a challenge that brought an angry reaction from the Rochdale players and with both sets of players getting into a pushing and shoving match, referee Bankes produced a straight red card for the on loan Manchester city youngster.
More yellow cards were to come minutes later as, first, skipper Antony Kay was shown one and then, moments later, Jacob Mellis committed the softest foul of the afternoon, but referee Bankes produced a Mellis’ second yellow card, swiftly followed by a red card.
Final Score: Rochdale 2 Bury 0
Bury: Ben Williams, Greg Leigh, Antony Kay, Zeli Ismail, Danny Mayor, James Vaughan, Neil Danns, Kean Bryan, Jacob Mellis, Tom Soares, Niall Maher
Subs: Kelvin Etuhu, Andrew Tutte, Paul Rachubka, Ishmael Miller, Hallam Hope, Tom Walker, Scott Burgess
Rochdale: Josh Lillis, Joe Rafferty, Niall Canavan, Matthew Lund, Calvin Andrew, Callum Camps, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, Keith Keane, Steven Davies, Joe Bunney, Ian Henderson
Subs: Conrad Logan, Harrison McGahey, Donal McDermott, Oliver Rathbone, Andrew Cannon, Aaron Morley, Sanmi Odelusi