Rochdale secured their first away win since November 2011 on Saturday with a 2-1 victory over AFC Wimbledon in a lively encounter at Kingsmeadow.
First half goals from Dele Adebola and Bobby Grant ensured the three points for Dale.
Manager John Coleman made several changes to the Dale starting eleven for the match. Matt Pearson was replaced by Joe Rafferty in defence, while Rhys Bennet started ahead of the injured Peter Cavanagh in midfield. Ray Putterill dropped to the bench to make way for Ashley Grimes.
It was an action packed first half at Kingsmeadow with two penalty claims, a sending off and goals from Dele Adebola and Bobby Grant.
In what was a lively affair, the home side had their first penalty claim of the afternoon with just seconds on the clock during the first attack of the match. Despite calls from the AFC Wimbledon players, the referee waved play on.
Despite the early scare it was Rochdale who went on to look the most likely to open the scoring, and they did just that on ten minutes after a spell of pressure on the Wimbldeon goal.
Adebola left goalkeeper Seb Brown with no chance after a getting a head on a sublime cross into the area from Bobby Grant. The towering front man climbed above his marker to slam the ball into the back of the net to give Dale a deserved lead on a warm afternoon in London.
Five minutes after the goal, Ryan Edwards was on hand to clear the danger at the other end for Rochdale as Sammy Moore delivered a menacing cross deep into the six yard box.
Two minutes later and the Wombles were on the attack again, this time Curtis Hayes-Brown bombed down the left flank to send in a delightful low cross across the face of goal. The in-running Luke Moore was denied by a last ditch challenge which saw the ball fly past the upright.
The match continued end to end and on 19 minutes Bobby Grant rattled the cross bar. He had been awarded the free-kick in a central position after Stacy Long was adjudged to have fouled the striker 20 yards out.
But the talking point of the afternoon came on 22 minutes following AFC Wimbledon’s second penalty claim. Jack Midson appealed for a spot-kick after being brought to the ground on the edge of the area. The referee had signalled for play to continue, but with the linesman furiously waving his flag on the sidelines, the referee brought the game to halt as he went to communicate with his colleague.
It was during this stoppage which saw Midson receive a red-card for an off the ball incident involving Bobby Grant.
AFC Wimbledon were awarded a free-kick from the original incident which was taken by former Dale loanee Pim Balkestein. Despite making its way through the defence, Josh Lillis was there to collect.
With the home side down to ten men, Rochdale continued to press the opposition goal as they looked to make the most the extra man.
And the persistence in front of goal paid off as Grant doubled Dale’s lead on 39 minutes. After picking up the ball from Jason Kennedy he moved forward, and after picking his spot, drove the ball into the corner of the net to bag his first league goal since moving to Spotland on transfer deadline day.
In the final moments of the half Manager John Coleman made Dale’s first change of the game as Ray Putterill replaced Grimes in a tactical substitution.
After the break, it was clear that Dale wanted to add to their tally and Putterill twice came close in the ten minutes following the re-start.
On 48 minutes the ball dropped sweetly for the pacey frontman inside the area which allowed him to smack a curling effort inches past the upright.
Eight minutes later, and after skipping past three Wimbledon defenders, he found the space to get an on target shot away. The strike was pushed round the post by Brown. Kennedy played the resulting corner ball short which was left by Putterill for the on-running Joe Rafferty who fired the ball over the bar.
Despite being down to ten men, AFC Wimbledon certainly made a game of it as the half continued as they applied the pressure on the Dale goal during a short spell of possession. And on the hour mark, they had a goal ruled off the side after Steven Gregory had put the ball in the back of the net.
Rochdale did look comfortable however and Tutte called Brown into action on 63 minutes as he forced the ‘keeper to push his shot round the target. Minutes later and Putterill rattled the ball over the bar.
But on 80 minutes, AFC Wimbledon ensured a nervy end to the game for Dale as they pulled a goal back through Luke Moore who hit home from the re-bound after the original effort from substitute Youseff Rashid rattled off the cross bar and back into play.
On 85 minutes Grant could have added a third for Rochdale after hitting powerful effort goalward from inside the 18 yard box but after a superb save from Brown, Wimbledon then threw everything at the game.
In the last five minutes of the match Rochdale were put under immense pressure by the home side as they searched for the equaliser but after some brave defending Dale rode the pressure to ensure the first away win of the season.
It finished AFC Wimbledon 1, Rochdale 2.