Rochdale midfielder Joe Thompson will enjoy a special Christmas after making his second return from cancer exactly one year on from his diagnosis.

Joe Thompson returns to football after winning second battle with cancer

Joe Thompson returns to football after winning second battle with cancer

Thompson has now twice successfully beaten nodular sclerosis Hodgkin lymphoma and made his playing return as Dale drew 1-1 with Walsall at Spotland.

Thompson, who first battled the disease in 2013, came on as 72nd-minute substitute and almost scored, seeing a shot blocked on the line by Kory Roberts.

But the 28-year-old was not going to let that spoil his moment.

He said on Twitter: "I don't make promises I can't keep. Unbelievable feeling be back out there.

"Thanks to everyone for the support through it all! Thank you to everyone at @officiallydale for ovation it brought a tear and smile to my face .... Christmas made special for me and my family £grateful.

"Here Is Fact For You ..... I was diagnosed with cancer to the day a year ago! 365 Days, 12 months, But I want you to understand, don't underestimate what you can achieve in a year.

"Thanks you to everyone for the messages, another chapter for the book...truly proud, gutted to concede so late on but now it's time for us to get up the table."

Rochdale boss Keith Hill said: "Joe deserved his place on the bench for the way he has been performing on the training pitch.

"It's small steps for him. We don't know how significant his return today was - I'll tell you in 10 years because it's about Joe's life, not his football."

Dale looked like celebrating Thompson's return with three points after Calvin Andrew put them ahead just after the hour but Maz Kouhyar stole a point for Walsall in time added on.

Hill added: "It was disappointing to concede so late on, but I do believe the opposition deserved something from the game.

"You could say we'd pinched it if we'd have hung on, but we didn't and that's the way it's going for us at the minute.

"You just have to battle through. I thought there was a better intensity to our play in the second half.

"In the first half I felt our players showed signs of playing under stress and I don't want them to play like that, I want them to relax.

"I certainly hadn't put any great significance on the fixture in the build up, but they seemed to take it on board themselves. The players are going through it at the minute and it's just a question of cracking on now."

Walsall boss Jon Whitney was delighted with Afghan midfielder Kouhyar, saying: "It's always nice for one of the young players to come on and get some reward and I think it would have been a harsh result if we wouldn't have got something.

"It's a tough place to come. I'm disappointed we didn't win from the possession that we had, but we'll take a point.

"I've just said to them, 'My post-match wouldn't have been too different but it's much easier when you've got a point', especially here as well because not many teams come and win here.

"Not many teams come and dominate them as well and match them physically as I thought we did."

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