A late goal from Jason Kennedy ensured victory for Rochdale on Saturday as Dale emerged 3-2 winners at the Crown Ground against Accrington Stanley.
Accrington came from two goals behind to draw level, but Kennedy’s strike on 83 minutes saw Dale extend their unbeaten run to five matches.
George Donnelly opened the scoring with just 26 minutes gone before Ashley Grimes added a second from the spot shortly after the half hour mark. Piero Mingoia pulled one back for the homeside before Romuald Boco netted the equalsier.
Manager John Coleman made one change for the encounter as Ashley Grimes was brought into the starting eleven for the suspended Bobby Grant.
George Donnelly ensured that Coleman’s return visit to his former club got off to a flyer after netting with just 26 minutes on the clock.
The frontman, who’s work-rate has been has been exemplary in recent weeks, rattled the ball home from 20 yards out on the half volley to open his Dale account for the season.
With Rochdale a goal to the good less than a minute after kick-off, the scene was set for an uptempo match at the Crown Ground.
Five minutes after the goal, Ashley Grimes drew a save from goalkeeper Ian Dunbavin who was forced to get down low to collect the tight angled shot.
Grimes was again in the thick of the action just minutes later as he Donnelly linked up well to test the ‘keeper once again. After some fantastic footwork from Donnelly down the left hand flank he was able to see off his marker before cutting inside to find Grimes who had made himself available inside the area. He struck the ball on the turn forcing Dunbavin into another fine save.
Accrington began to creep back into the game and with a quarter of an hour gone Dele Adebola almost turned the ball into his own net from a free-kick which was whipped into the 18 yard box. It was kept out by the leg of Lillis on the line and re-bounded back into play. Romuald Boco sent in a follow up effort which went wide of the target.
With the home side beginning to look threatening going forward, it was end to end to football as the half continued.
On 20 minutes, Andrew Tutte drew another fine save from goalkeeper Dunbavin after sending an effort goalwards from 30 yards.
Three minutes later, Padraig Amond had the opportunity to level the scoring after getting on the end of a low cross into the area but slipped at the vital moment and was unable to get a shot away.
And it was shortly after the half hour that Dale doubled their lead.
Rochdale were awarded a penalty after Aristote Nsiala was adjudged to have felled Adebola inside the area.
Ashley Grimes stepped up to take the resulting spot kick which he smashed into the top corner of the net to give Dale a 2-0 lead with 32 minutes played.
Accrington continued to apply the pressure as they looked to make their way back into the game and they found their breakthrough five minutes later.
Danny Schofield broke on the counter following a Dale corner which left the Dale defence for dead. He travelled at pace before down the left hand flank before playing the ball into the middle for the onrunning Piero Mingoia who slotted the ball past Lillis with a well struck effort from 25 yards out.
The momentum was with the home side and on 39 minutes Mingoia was allowed space to get another shot away. This time it went over the bar.
And three minutes before the interval, Rochdale were almost caught out once again by a counter attack as Mingoia came within inches of an equaliser.
There were no changes for Dale at the interval as Coleman continued as was for the second half.
After the break it was Accrington who came out on top and it didn’t take them long to pull the game level.
Just two minutes after the re-start Boco stunned Lillis with a long-range powerful effort, and despite initially keeping the ball out with his palms, the ball spun awkwardly for the Lillis and it ended up in the back the net after he was unable to get a get a hold of it.
The home side continued to cause problems for Rochdale in the final third and some well-timed defending from Joe Rafferty stopped Aidan Chippendale getting a shot away.
Moments later and the home side sent another long range effort goalward. This time Mingoia’s shot, which flew low across the face of goal, crept just inches past the upright.
With Rochdale on the back-foot Coleman opted for a double substitution as he looked to shake things up at the Crown Ground. Off went Grimes and Donnelly who were replaced by Craig Curran and Ray Putterill.
But despite the changes it was Accrington who continued to threaten and on the hour mark Lillis was forced into yet another save as he kept out Schofield’s shot from distance.
Dale struggled to create much in front of goal and their first real opportunity came on 65 minutes through a set piece. Kennedy’s free-kick was however tipped over the bar by goalkeeper Dunbavin.
Accrington continued to apply pressure but were unable to find a way past the Dale defence and it was Rochdale who would go on to find a third.
With seven minutes of the match remaining, Jason Kennedy found space 25 yards out and after looking up to pick his spot in the back of the net, he fired the ball home leaving Dunbavin with absolutely no chance.
It was a nervy end for Rochdale as Accrington threw everything forward and their determination almost paid off well into injury time when Murphy’s header smacked off the woodwork and out of play.
It finished Accrington 2, Rochdale 3.