Rochdale sealed their first double of the season with a 3-0 win over Hartlepool United at Victoria Park on Saturday.
Goals from George Donnelly, Peter Cavanagh and Graham Cummins ensured the score line reflected that of the meeting between the two sides on the first day of the season at Spotland.
Donnelly opened the scoring in shortly after the interval, before Cav doubled Dale’s advantage in the 63rd minute with a ferocious strike. Cummins netted Dale’s third of the afternoon with just minutes left to play.
Manager Keith Hill made one change to the starting eleven for Saturday’s match against the Pools. Michael Rose returned to the side after serving his one match ban – Joe Bunney moved to the bench.
Opportunities were limited for both sides during the opening exchanges, with the two ‘keepers having to make just one save each inside the first twelve minutes.
With eight minutes on the clock Brad Walker bundled his way through on goal after a Pools free-kick, just inside the Dale half, was taken quickly. He was able to get a shot away from the edge of the area, but the weak effort was easily collected by Josh Lillis.
Three minutes later, Dale’s Jack O’Connell struck a speculative effort from 40 yards. While the shot appeared to have little behind it, the ball dipped before awkwardly bouncing in front of goalkeeper Scott Flinders and he had to be alert to make sure he kept a hold of the ball after making the save.
The game had failed to get going, but the game suddenly burst into life in the 14th minute when Luke James seized on an opportunity to steal the ball from the feet of Olly Lancashire, who was caught in possession.
The Pools man went to ground on the edge of the area after the referee adjudge Lancashire had made contact with him, and the home side were awarded a set piece in a dangerous position.
Christian Burgess took the resulting free-kick and was denied by the upright. Lancashire cleared the follow up effort off the line.
The first substitution of the match soon followed in the 20th minute when George Donnelly replaced Matty Lund, who was struggling with a knock picked up against Leeds United last weekend.
It had been scrappy and hard-fought out affair in which Dale struggled to get a foot hold on, but despite Hartlepool showing flashes in front of goal, they were unable to truly test Lillis – their most notable chance in the remainder of the half coming on 39 minutes, when the ‘keeper pulled off a fine save to deny James Poole from ten yards.
In stoppage time, substitute Donnelly had Rochdale’s best opportunity of the half. He smashed an effort goal wards from 35-yards, which went narrowly over the bar.
HT: Hartlepool United 0-0 Rochdale
There were no further changes for Dale at the interval.
Inside the opening minute of the half the home side had appeals for a penalty turned down following complaints that Jonathan Franks had been upended inside the area. Dale survived the early scare and went on to take the lead less than five minutes later after Ian Henderson’s corner was turned into the net in a fortuitous manner.
There was a scramble inside the area, and although the goal was awarded to Donnelly, it appeared to have been a Hartlepool player who had sliced his clearance over the line.
GOAL: Hartlepool United 0-1 Rochdale (Donnelly, 49 minutes)
The goal made for a high tempo second half as Hartlepool went in search of the equaliser. Although they applied pressure on the Dale goal, they were unable to work Lillis.
And with the Pools unable to make an impact on the scoreline, Dale doubled their advantage in the 63rd minute through Captain Peter Cavanagh’s ferocious strike.
His powerful effort flew through the hands of Flinders and into the back of the net, earning Cav his first goal of the season.
GOAL: Hartlepool United 0-2 Rochdale (Cavanagh, 63 minutes)
It was comfortable for Dale following the goal and substitute Graham Cummins rounded off proceedings by adding to the score line in the 89th minute. He fired home from a Peter Vincenti lay-off to net Dale's third of the afternoon.
GOAL: Hartlepool United 0-3 Rochdale (Cummins, 89th minute)
In stoppage time Cummins came close to making it four but his curling effort, which had beaten the ‘keeper, was kept out by the post.
It finished Hartlepool United 0, Rochdale 3.