Goals from Michael Rose, Graham Cummins and Andrew Tutte secured all three points for Rochdale on Saturday with a 3-1 win over Exeter City at Spotland.
Dale took a first half lead, but were dealt a blow early in the second half as Exeter responded within seconds of the re-start. Cummins regained the lead for Dale, before Man of the Match Tutte wrapped up the points.
Rochdale came into the match on the back of an impressive 2-1 victory away at Morcambe last week and Manager Keith Hill named an unchanged squad for the game against the Grecians.
Rochdale got the game underway kicking from right to left and almost immediately it could have been 1-0 Dale if it hadn’t have been for Pat Baldwin heading the ball to safety.
The opening five minutes saw a spell of end to end football with Ashley Eastham cutting out an early chance for the Grecians by heading to safety to goalkeeper Josh Lillis. Minutes later City looked dangerous again with Alan Gow shimmering through and finding space for a shot which was subsequently blocked by Jack O’Connell and cleared to safety.
One minute later Exeter were calling for a penalty as Lund cleared a corner with a diving header there was call for a handball from the Grecian dugout a decision that referee Jeremy Simpson did not agree with.
The first fifteen minutes of the game were lively but very scrappy with both teams matching each other in all departments.
Dale again could have taken the lead after Rafferty floated a ball into the near post but Matthew Lund couldn’t reach it and the ball went behind for an Exeter goal kick. From the resulting goal kick Sam Parkin gathered the ball for Exeter on the left side and almost scored for Exeter but put the ball wide.
Rochdale could have taken the lead after a good spell of possession for Exeter came to nothing as Pat Baldwin ended up putting the ball out for a throwing. From the resulting throw Henderson floated a cross in where Graham Cummins met it with his head at the tightest of angles, however he couldn’t get enough power on it and the ball made its way into Krysiak’s hands.
A throw out from goalkeeper Lillis found Scott Hogan, who as turning away from Pat Baldwin was bought down by the centre half with referee Jeremy Simpson awarding a Dale free-kick just on the edge of the area.
Rose stepped up to take resulting set piece and curled the ball round the wall and into the top corner of the goal leaving Artur Krysiak no chance of a save
GOAL: Rochdale 1-0 Exeter (Rose, 38 mins).
Minutes later Dale survived an Exeter chance where Sam Parkin looked certain to score if it wasn’t for a fantastic O’Connell challenge to see the ball safely into Lillis’ hands.
HT: ROCHDALE 1-0 EXETER CITY
Manager Keith Hill made no changes at the interval as he remained as was for the start of the second half.
With seconds of the re-start Exeter stunned Dale as they drew level. The Grecians played the ball out to the left and crossed in by John O’Flynn, whose cross found Gow. His 12 yard shot hit O’Connell and past Josh Lillis to give the visitors the equaliser ten seconds into the second half.
Two minutes later Gow could have doubled his tally and put Exeter into the lead after a quick move through the middle in the park resulted in City’s number 10 putting the ball wide.
Following an Exeter corner it was Dale’s turn to break with Ian Henderson, who rapidly found Scott Hogan, but Dale’s top scorer could not direct his shot on target. Five minutes later Rochdale could have made it 2-1 after some smooth pass and move football in the middle of the park between Henderson and Rafferty. Henderson cut inside the area and fired at goal forcing a smart save from Krysiak. The resulting corner was cleared and Lancashire could have had a contender for goal of the season but his volley flew wide.
After a small amount of play in the middle of the park Dale almost took the lead again with Matt Lund picking up the ball and driving a low shot to the corner of the goal which just edged wide.
And they got the second goal they deserved on 65 minutes through Graham Cummins, who powered home after getting on the end of a Lund cross.
GOAL: ROCHDALE 2-1 EXETER CITY
Exeter seemed to feel that there was a foul in the build up to the goal and three minutes later City manager Paul Tisdale changed his team around bringing off Sam Parkin for Dave Wheeler. A change that almost made an instant impact when Arron Davies found Alan Gow whose shot fizzled wide.
Five minutes later the travelling fans from Devon were calling for another penalty after they felt substitute Dave Wheeler was pushed in the box, a call that again was waved away by the referee. A decision that may not of mattered if Alan Gow had managed to make more of finding space instead of putting his shot into the goal, a move that proved to be his last of the afternoon as he was replaced with Jimmy Keohane.
Minutes later it was Rochdale’s turn at a penalty appeal, with some skilful passing movement between Henderson and Rose, Rose cut into the box and went down somewhat easily under the challenge of Danny Coles.
In the 80th minute Keith Hill made his first change of the afternoon replacing Hogan with Matty Done. And moments later Dale could have increased their lead with a sweet Graham Cummins volley flying just wide of the Exeter goal.
After a spell of Exeter pressure the ball was cleared by the Dale defence and Graham Cummins did extremely well to get to it. He looked up and found Andrew Tutte 18 yards out and placed a curling shot past Krysiak in the Exeter goal to give Rochdale the two goal advantage.
GOAL: ROCHDALE 3-1 EXETER CITY
The fourth official signalled an addition of four minutes and Dale surged forward winning a freekick, which was taken shortly by Henderson but cut out by Exeter. Some play in the centre of the park resulted in Graham Cummins getting a shot away which sailed over the bar.
It finished Rochdale 3, Exeter City