There were jubilant scenes at Spotland on Saturday asRochdale secured promotion back to League One on with a 2-0 win over Cheltenham Town, coupled with results elsewhere in the division.
Goals from Peter Vincenti and Ian Henderson inside the first quarter of an hour of the match saw Dale record a comfortable victory over the Robins and their achievement was sealed as Fleetwood Town could only manage a draw in their game against Southend United at the Highbury Stadium.
The victory has also sent Dale top of the league, with one game remaining.
Manager Keith Hill named an unchanged eleven for the final home game of the season, with the players who lined up in the victory over Bristol Rovers on Easter Monday retaining their places. There were however two changes on the bench as Captain Peter Cavanagh and Matty Done replaced Sean McGinty and Jason Kennedy.
Rochdale were outstanding in the win over the Gas and they started as positively on Saturday as they had at the Memorial Stadium.
Dale were bright, lively and hungry, giving the visitors no time to settle as they harried and pressured from the first whistle.
The confident Dale side ensured any nerves from supporters inside Spotland were settled as they netted twice inside the first quarter of an hour. Peter Vincenti fired Rochdale ahead with 11 minutes on the clock, before Ian Henderson doubled Rochdale’s advantage four minutes later.
Henderson broke in a swift move down the left hand side of play, and after getting to the edge of the area, he picked out the unmarked Jersey man, who sent a left footed shot past Scott Brown to open the scoring.
The lively Henderson, who had been provider for the first goal, turned goal scorer as he coolly tapped home a low cross from Donnelly, from close range in with 15 minutes played.
The momentum continued with Rochdale and they pressurised the Robins, carving out further opportunities.
In the 18th minute George Donnelly was blocked on the line by Craig Braham-Barrett, before the goalkeeper, Scott Brown, pulled off an excellent save to deny Vincenti from eight yards.
Straight up the other end, and Cheltenham had a rare clear cut opportunity on goal after being awarded a set piece. The well struck free-kick, which had left Lillis rooted to the spot, went narrowly over the bar.
Rochdale saw out the rest of the half comfortably, and took a two nil lead into the interval.
HT: ROCHDALE 2-0 CHELTENHAM TOWN
There were no changes for Rochdale at the start of the second half, however the Robins made one substitution, with Sam Deering making way for Joe Hanks.
Dale started the second half as lively and as committed as they had been throughout the first 45 plus minutes, and just five minutes after the re-start, Donnelly came close to adding a third to the tally.
The hard-working frontman fired an excellent effort at goal, and despite beating the ‘keeper, he could only watch as the shot went fractionally wide of the target.
Dale were in control, but the visitors showed flashes of how dangerous they can be.
Shortly before the hour mark substitute Hanks sent a fizzing shot goal wards, which went past the upright, before Jermaine McGlashan fired a shot over the top from distance.
Dale’s first substitution of the half followed with 72 minutes on the clock as Joe Bunney replaced Donnelly, who went to a standing ovation from supporters.
Rochdale were comfortable for the remainder of the half and were excellent as they limited the Robins’ opportunities and in turn pressured the visitors.
As the full time whistle went at Spotland the fans invaded the pitch, but all eyes were on the game at Highbury where the game was still in play. Three minutes later the news came that the Cod Army had been held to a draw, sealing Dale’s promotion back to League One.
WE ARE GOING UP, SAY WE ARE GOIN UP!