Rochdale extended their unbeaten pre-season run to five on Tuesday night with a 3-0 win over Macclesfield Town.
A George Donnelly brace against his former club and an own goal from Michael Thomas ensured victory for Dale.
Manager Keith Hill opted for a 3-5-2 formation for the match at Moss Rose, with Joe Rafferty and Michael Rose pushing forward into a five man midfield, leaving Ashley Eastham, Olly Lancashire and new recruit Jack O’Connell at the back.
Jamie Allen, Andrew Tutte and Matty Done made up the midfield, while Joe Bunney joined Donnelly in the forward line. Josh Lillis, who had yet to feature in pre-season due to a knee problem, made his first appearance of the friendly schedule as he appeared in net.
It was a formation which has been untried in pre-season and it became clear under the guidance of a very vocal Keith Hill that he wanted an uptempo passing game.
The players looked hungry from the get go and peppered the Macclesfield goal from early in the match, however a Michael Rose free-kick from 25 yards, which screamed narrowly past the upright, was Dale’s first real opportunity of the match.
And it was from distance on 23 minutes that Rafferty hooked an effort from 35-yards into the top netting.
Plenty of passing had been the order of the evening so far and Dale had been effective as they picked open the Silkmen’s midfield and defence with neat some link up play, and less than a minute after Rafferty’s shot, Rochdale opened the scoring.
Done broke out to the left hand side of play from the midfield and sent a cross into the area for the awaiting Bunney who headed onto the bar. The re-bound fell for Donnelly who volleyed it into the roof of the net.
Dale continue to press and ten minutes later Rose found Allen who in turn sent a well-timed pass through to an on-running Done who in the end could only drag his shot across the face of goal.
In the five minutes leading up to the interval the home side had a short spell in the game and twice tested had opportunities on goal. On 40 minutes, Scott Boden forced Lillis to push a downward header round the upright, while Chris Holroyd sent a volley at the near post over the bar.
HT: Macclesfield Town 0-1 Rochdale
There were two changes for Dale at the interval with Rafferty and Rose making way for trialist Jav Vidal and Scott Tanser respectively, but the formation didn’t change.
Dale were again in charge from the off-set and just three minutes after the restart Macclesfield goalkeeper Rhys Taylor was called into a fingertip save to send an angled drive from Tutte over the bar.
Rochdale kept pressing and on 62 minutes they went on to double their lead from a set-piece. Loanee McConnell headed an Allen corner ball across the face of goal and it was turned into the net by the Silkmen's Thomas.
Five minutes later, substitute Vidal sent a wicked shot from the edge of the area in on goal which was beat away by ‘keeper Taylor.
Further substitutions followed for Rochdale as D’arcy O’Connor and Joel Logan joined fellow second half subs Tanser and Vidal (46 minutes) and Brian Barry Murphy (56 minutes) in entering the field of play. Hill stayed with the 3-5-2 formation with O’Connor, BBM and Tanser operating in a back three, with Done and Vidal out wide and Allen, Tutte and Logan making up the rest of the midfield.
Dale’s third and final goal of the game came on 75 minutes through a stunning strike from Donnelly. He turned on the edge of the area before unleashing a curling effort into the top corner of the net.
It finished Macclesfield Town 0, Rochdale 3.