Holt plays the lead in Rochdale TV debut

ROCHDALE WERE the pick of these television debutants, basking in the glow of national awareness and checking Hull City's march towards Nationwide League safety.

A crowd of 5,374, more than two and a half times the average at Spotland were drawn by the cameras and those of the blue persuasion were not let down. Rochdale played with greater purpose and cohesion throughout, and in Michael Holt had the man capable of conjuring the match-winning goals.

Sky's road show rolled into town direct from Wembley and England's match against World Cup winners France. Cultural shocks do not come more pronounced, but then the mission of these TV crusaders is to broaden our viewing tastes and support the game at every level.

They came to Spotland to eliminate two of the four remaining League clubs never to have been featured on live television and give an armchair audience a taste of football at the other end of the spectrum. Not that it was a truly representative night here or indeed of any club in the lower reaches of the Third Division. The self-perpetuating hype of Sky is such that the ordinary, run of the mill fixture, is never quite projected.

Rochdale caught the mood, distributing complimentary tickets to local schools and turning the occasion into something of a promotion fest.

Hull were never likely to be content leaving the limelight to Rochdale. A run of five matches unbeaten had lifted them from the bottom of the league and bolstered their belief they would avoid the ignominious drop into the Conference.

The home side patently relished their screen test, taking the match to Hull and swarming around their penalty area. Perhaps the excitement got the better of Holt, who squandered the chance to put the home side ahead after five minutes, failing to make firm contact as the goal beckoned.

The frenzy of the night provided fuel for factions of the crowd hell bent on causing trouble, and police and stewards were stretched to retain control as some fans ran on to the pitch baiting the home supporters. Order was restored and Rochdale took the lead in the 43rd minute. Peake delivered the corner, Mark Monington headed on and Holt applied the finish from close range.

David D'Auria tested Neil Edwards deep into first-half stoppage time and the home keeper settled for the tip over.

Barlow's splendid left foot produced more danger for Hull and Oakes beat away Holt's header with an athletic save. Edwards merely stood his ground to field a fierce drive from Hull's Gareth Williams. Holt headed his and Rochdale's second, from Peake's cross, after 59 minutes.

Hull dredged their resources of resilience in an attempt to salvage something from the match, but Colin Alcide's close range efforts were somehow saved by the excellent Edwards.

Morris bundled in the third in the final minute.

Rochdale (5-3-2): Edwards; Carden, Farrel, Monington, Bayliss, Barlow; Painter, Lydiate, Peake; Holt, Morris. Substitutes not used: Stuart, Sparrow, Jones.

Hull City (3-5-2): Oakes; Edwards, Dewhurst, Whitney; D'Auria (Rioch, 70), McGinty (French, 70), Brabin, Williams, Swales; Alcide, Brown. Substitute not used: Hocking.

Referee: W Burns (Scarborough).

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