Donnelly Inspires Dale To Victory
It was the introduction of George Donnelly with 15 minutes to go that inspired the win as he broke the deadlock and assisted in doubling his side's lead. Rochdale ended a winless run at Spotland with victory over Oxford United.
Rochdale manager John Coleman made just one change to his starting line up with Joe Rafferty recalled to the starting 11 at the expense of Phil Edwards.
Jason Kennedy skipped through the middle before unleashing a shot from 22 yards that proved comfortable for Ryan Clarke in the U's goal. Two chances in the space of 30 seconds opened the game with the first coming Rochdale's way straight from the kick off.
With Edwards, Lillis and Bennett leaving the ball to each other Craddock took control inside the Rochdale box, but his side-footed effort found the heel of a Dale defender and the ball went just wide. Striker Tom Craddock almost made the Dale defence pay for hesitating in dealing with Clarke's long goal kick.
The game got scrappy for a while with neither side finding their rhythm and the early excitement was soon just a memory as both sides jostled for superiorty.
It was the home side that crafted the next chance with 18 minutes played. Right back Rafferty warmed the palms of 'keeper Clarke with a dipping effort from 22 yards after coming inside from the right. It was asho that needed the intervention of the stopper and he tipped the ball over the bar.
From the resulting corner Bobby Grant connected with a volley on the six yard line under tremendous pressure from Capaldi and that was enough attention for the Dale striker to fire over the bar.
Even when he missed the ball from a left wing centre it gave Potter a great chance at the back stick but he could only manage to side foot the ball across the face of goal and wide as Lillis's goal gaped. Oxford weren't without chances of their own and front man Craddock was at the heart of everything the visitors did.
Two more chances to break the deadlock came around and both fell to the home side.First up Dele Adebola just past the half hour mark managed to get his head on a great ball from Tutte from the right but under pressure he failed to find the target and headed over.
His effort was followed three minutes later by Andrew Tutte who drove a shot just wide of the mark from distance after good work by Bobby Grant on the right.
Oxford ended the half very strongly with Potter in particular causing problems for Coleman's side down the right wing. However, despite he and Craddocks best efforts, shots that did find their way through were always straight at Lillis.
The second half began with an early scare for Dale after a corner pinballed in the box before the home side cleared.
The midfielder found Adebola wide on the right and before he crossed for Edwards in the box but his header was well wide. Dale's first chance from the restart fell on 56 minutes after Andrew Tutte won the ball in the centre.
On 67 minutes Bobby Grant found himself one on one with Ryan Clarke but the game remained goal-less as the former Scunthorpe man powered his low shot wide.
Five minutes later 'Dale goalkeeper Josh Lillis was forced into making a great save from Craddock as he unleashed from 19 yards out, a reminder the 'U's' were still in the game.
Bobby Grant latched onto to it wde on the left before swinging over a cross for Donnelly to glance home with his head. That was until six minutes later as Rochdle replaced Dele Adebola with George Donnelly and his introduction proved to be the foundation of the demise of the visitors. Rochdale broke the deadlock following a deep ball from skipper Peter Cavanagh.
The introduction of Donnelly proved the pivotal point for Rochdale who attacked with energy and it wasn't long before Rochdale doubled their lead, thanks once again to the substitute.
The super sub found Grant on the back post and he made no mistake from a yard out. It came after Jason Kennedy saw his close range header was blocked on the line by Whing, Donnelly turned provider on the right wing.
Oxford were beaten and with no late rally from the visitors Rochdale saw out the game comfortably to mak their first league win at home since victory over Barnet on the 1st September.