A Scott Hogan hat-trick ensured victory on the road for Rochdale on Saturday as the side recorded a convincing 3-0 win over AFC Wimbledon at Kingsmeadow.
Hogan’s three goals all came in the second half, with the striker netting in the 65th, 78th and 83nd minutes of the game.
Manager Keith Hill made three changes for the match. Joe Rafferty, Jamie Allen and Scott Hogan were handed starts ahead of Rhys Bennett, Peter Vincenti and George Donnelly, who all moved to the bench.
Weather conditions in the hours leading up to the fixture saw Kingsmeadow battered by the rain and wind for spells, but hard-work from the Groundstaff ensured the game went ahead. The sun finally made an appearance as the teams made their way out onto the pitch ahead of kick-off, but the recent weather conditions meant the surface wasn’t conducive to Dale’s style of football.
As the teams attempted to get to grips with the conditions, it was a relatively even affair during the opening exchanges as the game took time to settle.
Dale showed their attacking intentions first though, and despite some excellent build up play in the seventh minute, Matty Done’s final ball was blocked and sent back into play by the AFC Wimbledon defence.
And four minutes later the home-side were unable to make the most of a clear cut opportunity as Charlie Wyke powered a free-header over the bar.
As the half progressed, both teams enjoyed plenty of the ball without causing too much trouble for either ‘keeper, and neither team were able to record a shot on target.
Meanwhile shortly before the half hour mark AFC Wimbledon were forced into making their first substitution of the match as Sammy Moore went off following what appeared to have been a head knock. He was replaced by Kevin Sainte-Luce.
The two sides were playing in a positive manner, but it was Dale who had two opportunities to break the deadlock inside sixty seconds.
In the 35th minute Allen was played through on goal by Matty Lund, who had picked him out with a diagonal ball. The youngster race onto it, taking him through one on one with ‘keeper Ross Worner, but as a Dons defender came closing in, he rushed a shot, sending it narrowly past the upright.
A minute later Hogan fired an effort into the side netting on the angle.
AFC Wimbledon won consecutive corners, the first and second of the game, shortly afterwards, but they were unable to take advantage as Dale twice dealt with the danger.
After an even first half, the teams went into the interval yet to break the deadlock.
HT: AFC WIMBLEDON 0-0 ROCHDALE
There were no changes for Dale at the interval as Manager Keith Hill stayed as was for the second half.
It was end to end after the break, with both teams having opportunities to open the scoring, before Hogan found the back of the net in the 65th minute.
Two minutes after the re-start Dale won consecutive corners, with Lund sending an effort just off target from the second.
Rose sent in the delivery, and Lund glanced a header narrowly over the bar.
Up the other end and the hosts also won an early second half corner, which was hooked was off the line by Scott Hogan.
In the 56th minute, Lund again headed over, this time from a free-kick. Henderson took the set piece on the left hand side of play, and floated it in towards the back post. Lund rose to head towards goal, but in hindsight he should have left for the unmarked Jason Kennedy.
Three minutes later and Dale were left off the hook as Lillis did brilliantly to recover from a short-back pass from Ashley Eastham which left him stranded.
Lillis did well to go to ground and get his finger tips on the ball as Wyke rounded him and attempted to get a shot away. It was enough to steer the ball into the path of Rafferty, who cleared the danger.
And it was in the 65th minute that Dale netted their first goal in what became a convincing 3-0 victory.
Rose, who was playing in the central midfielder role, picked out Done on the left hand flank. Done drove forward before sending a cross into the area for the awaiting Hogan, who rose high and headed past Worner.
GOAL: AFC WIMBLEDON 0-1 ROCHDALE
Dale’s first substitution of the game soon followed, with Allen making way for Peter Vincenti.
Rochdale looked the most likely to score again, and before Hogan netted his second of the afternoon, a wind assisted cross-come-shot from Rafferty was almost taken over the line by ‘keeper Worner. He had initially done well to collect the dipping effort, but as momentum pulled him backwards, he had to use the post to stop himself from falling into his own net.
And it was shortly afterwards that Hogan went on to double Dale’s advantage. He beat the offside trap before rounding Worner and striking it into the bottom corner from an acute angle in the 78th minute.
GOAL: AFC WIMBLEDON 0-2 ROCHDALE
And Hogan bagged his first Football League hat-trick in style five minutes later as he cushioned a volley over the top of Worner after latching onto a ball over the top.
GOAL: AFC WIMBLEDON 0-3 ROCHDALE
Dale made two further changes before the half was out, with Joe Bunney and Donnelly replacing Henderson and Hogan, respectively.
Deep in stoppage time, Donnelly did well to work an opening and send an effort goal wards, which was kept out by the legs of Worner.
It was the last of the action, and the game finished AFC Wimbledon 0-3 Rochdale.