Rochdale secured an important three points on Saturday with a 1-0 win over Exeter City at St James Park.
Jamie Allen’s first half goal was enough to separate the two sides.
The victory saw Dale move into third place in the Sky Bet League Two table, just a point off leaders Chesterfield.
There were three changes to the starting eleven for the fixture as Captain Peter Cavanagh and Olly Lancashire returned from injury to replace Jason Kennedy and Ashley Eastham, while Jamie Allen started ahead of Peter Vincenti. Kennedy, Eastham and Vincenti all moved to the bench.
Rochdale had the first opportunity on goal in the fifth minute after Scott Hogan applied pressure on the Exeter defence, creating an opening.
Hogan used his pace to power through on goal, but as the Grecians blocked his effort, Matty Done was able to pick up the stray ball and found Allen, who was waiting in the middle of the 18-yard box. The youngster smashed an effort goal wards, which was kept out by the legs of Pym.
Immediately up the other end and a timely block from Joe Rafferty ensured John O’Flynn’s effort from the edge of the area was cleared without testing ‘keeper Josh Lillis.
Play had been scrappy at time as both teams looked to get a foothold on the game, but it was Rochdale who looked the most threatening as they applied the pressure in the final third. Despite the swift attacking football from Dale, the home side’s defence were keeping Keith Hill’s side at bay with a resolute performance.
In the 35th minute, John O’Flynn should have done better as he met a Craig Woodman free-kick seven yards from goal. He could, however, only strike well over the bar.
As the game ticked towards half time Dale began to turn the screw, before taking a deserved lead before the interval.
Much of Dale’s play was coming from the left hand flank and in the 40th minute Hogan cut inside before attempting to lift the ball up and over Pym. The ‘keeper got a hand to it, sending it across goal, before it was cleared off the line by the Grecians.
Four minutes later Hogan had an effort kept out by the legs of Pym, and with Dale on the ascendancy they went on to take in stoppage time.
Henderson had forced Pym into a fine save to deny him from an acute angle, but the ‘keeper could only palm it back into play as far as Alllen, who made no mistake from six yards.
GOAL: Exeter City 0-1 Rochdale
It was the last action of the half and Dale went into the with a one goal advantage.
HT: Exeter City 0-1 Rochdale
There were no changes for Rochdale at the interval, but Exeter Manager Paul Tisdale opted for a double substitution. Liam Sercombe and Arron Davies were replaced by Elliot Richards and Tom Nichols.
Dale were on the attack immediately from kick-off, and after Hogan used his pace to power up the right hand side of play, he found Allen, who was unmarked 20 yards from goal, but the midfielder could only swipe the air, ending the Rochdale threat.
The two changes for the Grecians added a new attacking prowess to the home side’s play and in the 58th minute Lillis pulled of an important finger-tip save to keep out a powerful effort from Nichols.
Three minutes later and Richards fired a shot into the side netting.
It was an high tempo affair and shortly after the hour mark Pym pulled off a timely block to deny Henderson, who attempted to round the ‘keeper after being played in by an excellent through ball from Lund.
And in the 64th minute Lund was denied by the woodwork. The low drive had beaten Pym, but the midfielder was kept out by the inside of the post.
A Dale double substitution soon followed as Vincenti and Donnelly replaced Allen and Hogan.
It was end to end as both teams went in search of a goal, but despite the pressure, the two teams were resolute as they defended well, including a timely clearance from Lancashire in the 88th minute as he sent behind a dangerous ball across the face of goal from substitute Wheeler.
It finished Exeter City 0, Rochdale 1.