Rochdale came from a goal behind on Saturday to secure three points with a comfortable 4-1 win over Wycombe Wanderers at Spotland.
In an entertaining encounter, the visitors took the lead against the run of play on 16 minutes through Stuart Lewis, but Dale were soon back on level terms through Ian Henderson who equalised less than three minutes later.
In a game dominated by a confident Rochdale side, an own goal gave Dale the lead two minutes after the interval before George Donnelly bagged a double to send Keith Hill’s side on their way to victory.
There were three changes to the side that went down 3-0 at Morecambe last weekend. Kevin McIntyre returned in the left back in place of Michael Rose who dropped to the bench, while Andrew Tutte who missed out last weekend, was handed the skipper’s armband at the expense of Brian Barry-Murphy who failed to feature in the 18. Joe Thompson made his return home debut as Ritchie Jones sat out through injury.
Rochdale looked the brighter of the two from kick-off and with seven minutes on the clock, Dale saw their patient build up play pay off as they finally found their break in the final third. After a good move forward, Ian Henderson delivered a ball across the face of goal however no-one was there to hit it home and made its way to the otherside of the 18-yard box for Thompson who pulled it back in, but again there was no-one there to turn it home.
The move appeared to inspire Dale and as confidence grew Dale applied the pressure on the Wycombe goal just three minutes later. Andrew Tutte started the swift move forward from inside his own half, and cut open the Chairboys’ defence with a sublime pass forward for Thompson who did well to deliver the ball across the face of goal after running at speed to make sure he got on the end of it. Henderson came sliding in, but couldn’t make a connection with it as Michael Harriman steers it away.
Less than 60 second later Rochdale were denied by a fine double save from Wycombe goalkeeper Jordan Archer. The ‘keeper tipped an initial curling effort from Tutte away at his back post and regained his composure instantly to push a follow up effort from Terry Gornell out of play.
A minute later, Dale were awarded a free-kick for a foul on Gornell and Grant stepped up to take the set piece 25-yards from goal, this time it was the woodwork which denied Keith Hill’s side. Grant’s set piece rattled off the underside of the cross bar before bouncing off the ‘keeper Archer and back into play.
Gornell had to go off as result of the foul as he struggled with what looked like a groin strain – George Donnelly replaced him in the front line.
Rochdale were on top as they dominated the play, but were left stunned as Wycombe opened the scoring on 16 minutes. In a rare move forward the Chairboys’ Stuart Lewis fired home despite a foul in Dale’s favour during the build-up play. The goal was allowed to stand and Rochdale found themselves undeservedly behind.
It didn’t take long however for Dale to level proceedings as they continued to attack the visitor’s goal. Less than three minutes after going behind Rochdale were on level terms thanks to a goal from Henderson on his home debut. He hit a low drive into the back of the net from a Tutte free-kick.
Rochdale continued to show an attacking flare and dominated the remainder of the half but failed to add to their tally despite looking dangerous in front if goal.
As the half approached the interval Dale had a penalty claim turned down after calls for a hand ball inside the box, while Grant had an effort block after firing on target from a square ball from Donnelly.
HT: ROCHDALE 1-1 WYCOMBE WANDERERS
There were no changes at the interval as Manager Keith Hill stayed as was for the start of the second half and it was Dale who came out all cylinders firing.
Within three minutes of the re-start Rochdale took the lead through a fortuitous goal which has been awarded as an own goal by Wycombe’s Michael Harriman. After a short corner routine with Kevin McIntyre, Tutte curled the ball towards goal and it took deflection of Harriman and into the back of the net.
Although the goal itself may have been fortuitous, it was no fluke that Dale were ahead and they went on to turn the screw as they applied the pressure in the final third, keeping the visitors penned in their own half.
Just a minute after Dale had taken the lead, Thompson had an effort cleared of the line by Lewis, while on 57 minutes Henderson’s curling effort was kept out by the cross bar.
Seven minutes later and Dale again came close, this time Grant sent a header just inches wide of the post.
Wycombe enjoyed a short spell of pressure in the Dale half without testing Lillis, and after failing to make an impact, Rochdale went on to put the game out of sight.
On 78 minutes, Ian Henderson broke on the counter attack after mopping up a Wycombe effort, and cut inside before squaring a cross to the onrunning George Donnelly who made no mistake as he slotted past Archer to give Dale a 3-1 lead.
Seven minutes later, Donnelly was on the score-sheet again as he headed down past Archer at the back post following an inch perfect ball into a dangerous position by substitute Michael Rose.
Rochdale showed no signs of easing up as the game ticked to a close and on 88 minutes Grant was denied by the woodwork once again.
It finished Rochdale 4, Wycombe 1.