Rochdale recorded their third consecutive win on Wednesday with a 4-2 win over Southend United at Spotland.
A double from Bobby Grant and goals from Michael Rose and Ashley Grimes saw Dale move up to 13th in the league.
Rose opened the scoring on 35 minutes to ensure the home side went into the interval with a one goal advantage. Mark Phillips levelled for the Shrimpers within minute of the re-start, but Grant netted six minutes later to re-establish Rochdale’s lead. Grant scored again on 74 minutes before Grimes got his name on the score-sheet two minutes later. Barry Corr pulled one back for the visitors on 89 minutes.
Manager Keith Hill named an unchanged eleven for the encounter against the Shrimpers following Saturday’s comfortable win over Fleetwood Town.
It was a dominant and assured performance at the Highbury Stadium and Dale were in confident mood once more as they started the first half against the Shrimpers very brightly.
The opening period was relatively even in terms of possession, but it was Hill’s side who had the better of the opportunities in the final third.
On five minutes, George Donnelly was denied only by goalkeeper Paul Smith who reacted quickly to avert the danger at his near post. Some intelligent link up play between Ian Henderson and Michael Rose led to the left full back delivering a menacing low ball in towards the upright for the awaiting Donnelly, however the frontman was unable to get a touch on the ball as Smith snatched it away and into his grip.
Sixty seconds later Smith was called into action again as Bobby Grant fired a powerful effort at the ‘keeper. He dived to his left to parry the shot away and out of play.
There was a high tempo start to the game and two minutes later up the other end, Barry Corr, who rose high above the Dale defence, headed wide of the upright from close range.
Henderson then had two opportunities in quick succession for Dale, however his first headed effort went over the bar, while his second was collected by Smith who had to be watchful as the effort went high before dropping into his hands.
Dale continued to press and on 22 minutes Grant cut inside before unleashing a curling effort just over the bar, while Lillis was on hand to keep out Corr three minutes later. Some great goalkeeping from Lillis saw him come off his line to charge down the on-running Shrimper as he pulled back his right peg to fire it past the ‘keeper.
The match continued end to end and on 35 minutes Dale found a break-through thanks to a Rose set-piece.
The defender had gone on a lengthy run from inside his own half in a Rhys Bennett-esque type fashion, but was felled just outside the area. He stepped up to take the resulting free-kick and struck it low past goalkeeper Smith and into the bottom corner of the net to give Dale a one goal lead.
There were chances aplenty for both sides, and although Rochdale looked the more dangerous of the two, Corr had an effort blocked on the line by Joe Rafferty.
As the match approached half time Ashley Grimes fired an effort from distance over the bar, before Smith was called into action again, this time to deny Donnelly. The Dale frontman was through on goal, but despite a Shrimpers defender marking closely, he was able to get a shot away but was kept out by the feet of the ‘keeper who had to dive the length of his goal mouth.
HT: ROCHDALE 1-0 SOUTHEND UNITED
The visitors had the perfect start to the second half as they levelled inside the first minute of the re-start. Marc Laird delivered a flighty free-kick into a packed box and Mark Phillips rose above the rest and guided the ball past Lillis and in at the near post to make it game on at Spotland.
Despite a promising start after the break for Southend, Rochdale continued to work-hard as they searched for a second and they re-gained the lead with a deserved goal on 51 minutes.
Donnelly had been pushed out wide right and into the corner by his marker, but worked extremely hard to free himself before turning and sending a first time ball to the back post for the on-running Grant who headed past the ‘keeper to re-gain the advantage for Dale.
Two minutes later and Dale were on the attack again, this time Smith was forced into a finger-tip save to deny Donnelly.
On 64 minutes Rose sent a powerful free-kick off the stanchion at the back of the net, before Smith parried a Grimes effort, which looked destined for the net, out of play. Grant was also in the thick of the action and his long range effort was deflected into the hands of the goalkeeper.
Rochdale were very much on top, but had the woodwork to thank for staying in front as Corr, who had been the only danger for the visitors, was kept out by the inside of the post on 72 minutes.
After the scare Dale began to turn to screw and just two minutes later Grant extended his side’s lead with his second of the evening. He fired a curling effort into the top right hand corner of the net leaving the ‘keeper with no chance of a save.
Momentum was with Rochdale and there was no let up as they continued to press forward with fast flowing football and the fourth goal came just two minutes after Grant had made it 3-1. Grimes side footed the ball past Smith in classy fashion to send Hill’s side on the way to another convincing win.
There was no let up and on 81 minutes the Shrimpers ‘keeper pulled off yet another wonderful save to palm a shot from Grant over the bar.
Southend’s Corr, who had been the danger man for the visitors netted a deserved goal from his own point of view on 89 minutes, but there was no sign of a late come-back as Rochdale stayed on top.
In the dying moments of the match substitute Terry Gornell struck a long range effort which Smith had to get two hands behind to parry it wide.
It finished Rochdale 4, Southend United 2.