Rochdale secured maximum points at the Globe Arena on Saturday with a 2-1 win over Morecambe to return to join top of the Sky Bet League Two table.
Dale struck twice in three second half minutes to open up a deserved and commanding lead over the Shrimps, before the home-side pulled one back late in the game.
Andrew Tutte opened the scoring shortly after the hour mark, before Scott Hogan doubled Dale’s advantage three minutes later. Padraig Amond netted for the Morecambe in the 88th minute.
Manager Keith Hill made four changes for the trip to the Globe Arena, with Joe Rafferty, Matty Lund, Michael Rose and Graham Cummins returning to the starting eleven ahead of Javan Vidal, Matty Done, Gary Dicker and Peter Vincenti.
It was a scrappy affair during the opening exchanges as both teams looked to get a foot hold in the game. Opportunities were at premium during this time, with Alex Kenyon’s 20 yard effort inside sixty seconds, which went over the bar, the only shot on goal during the first quarter of an hour.
Dale were patient, and as the half progressed they took control of the match, showing plenty of attacking threat and limiting Morecambe’s movement as the side made sure they were the first to every ball.
But despite plenty of attacking prowess they were unable to truly test ‘keeper Barry Roche and most notably the chances fell to Graham Cummins, Scott Hogan and Ian Henderson.
In the 17th minute Hogan sent the ball into the box for the awaiting Cummins, who looked to have been impeded, and with ‘keeper Roche colliding with the onloan striker, Cummins was unable to make a clean connection with the ball, and his headed effort spun high in the air and back into play.
Moments later and Ian Henderson delivered a ball over the top for an on-running Hogan, who despite stretching in bid to get on the end of it, was unable to get the decisive touch to turn it into the net.
A resilient Rochdale side had done superbly to limit the home-side’s threat, but on the half hour mark Kevin Ellison came close to opening the scoring as was given the opportunity at the back post. He fired over the bar from less than six yards.
But it was on 41 minutes that Dale drew the first save of the half as Roche was called into action to deny Henderson.
An initial ball into the box by Rose was missed by Cummins, and after ricocheting off the Morecambe defence, it fell to Henderson, who forced the ‘keeper into a two handed save to turn the ball round the post.
HT: Morecambe 0-0 Rochdale
There were no changes for Dale at the interval as Manager Keith Hill stayed as was for the start of the second half.
The Shrimps had the first opportunity of the half as Ryan Williams sent an effort from distance narrowly wide of the upright, but it was Rochdale who began to turn the screw as they battered the Morecambe goal, before deservedly going on to open up a two goal lead.
In the 51st minute Tutte sent a free-kick into the box which caused all manner of problems for the Morecambe defence as it bounced on the edge of the six yard box and into the path of Eastham, who missed the ball with a diving header. The ‘keeper pushed it back into the path of Matty Lund, whose deflected effort went wide of the target.
Four minutes later, Roche was on hand to deny Hogan as he tempted to get on the end of a Raffetrty ball into the box, before Hogan again, who was under pressure this time, curled an effort narrowly over the bar.
On the hour mark some fantastic football saw Henderson pick out Tutte with a sublime pass forward, allowing the midfielder to take the ball to the by-line and deliver across the face of goal. There were no Dale players waiting in the centre, but a flat footed Shrimps defence were unable to clear the danger and Cummins forced them into a timely block.
Rochdale were building and they got the goal they deserved with 62 minutes on the clock. Hogan picked out Tutte, who fired a shot in on goal from an acute angle, which deflected off Mark Hughes and into the back of the net.
GOAL: Morecambe 0-1 ROCHDALE
And Dale doubled their lead three minutes later through Hogan. He ran onto a ball which was played over the top by Eastham, and after taking a couple of touches, he slammed the ball past Roche.
GOAL: Morecambe 0-2 ROCHDALE
Momentum stayed with Dale, and they had opportunities to extend their lead further, with Lund sending efforts agonisingly past both the right and left uprights within the space of two minutes.
It had been all Dale in the second half, but Morecambe ensured a nervy finish to the game as they pulled a goal back in the 88th minute.
Ellison broke on the counter attack and picked out substitute Padraig Amond who fired low past Lillis after travelling through one on one with the ‘keeper.
GOAL: MORECAMBE 1-2 Rochdale
The goal gave the home-side impetuous and in the 90th minute Sampson sent a deflected effort narrowly wide of the post, and Ellison fired the bar with an over-head kick from the resulting corner.
It finished Morecambe 1, Rochdale 2.