Rochdale booked their place in the fourth round of the FA Cup with Budweiser with a thoroughly deserved win over Championship side Leeds United at Spotland on Saturday.
Goals from Scott Hogan and Ian Henderson ensured victory for Dale in game which was dominated by Dale from start to finish.
Manager Keith Hill made three changes for the tie – Matty Done, Rhys Bennet and Joe Bunney started ahead of the suspended Michael Rose, and Joe Rafferty and Graham Cummins, who were on the bench.
It was a high tempo display from Rochdale, who asked all of the questions during the first half, and had deservedly taken a 1-0 lead into the interval.
The game started with the visitors earning a free-kick in a dangerous central position just outside the area less than two minutes into the game, but after dealing with the early threat, Dale went on to take the game to Leeds United with quick, fast paced passing football.
After an energetic start, which saw United pinned into their own half for a spell, Dale did find the back of the net in the 8th minute through Joe Bunney following some fantastic build up play which had carved open the visitors. Disappointingly, it was deemed offside.
A minute later, Dale were again causing problems in front of goal, as they applied the pressure from a set piece.
The free-kick on the right hand side of play was curled into the area by Ian Henderson and was met by the head of Bunney, whose effort was headed just wide of the target. Henderson drilled the resulting corner ball to the near post and after being cleared back out as far as Hendo, he delivered a dangerous low ball across the face of goal, and despite several Dale player stretching to get on the end of it, it agonisingly skipped across goal and out of play.
In the 13th minute Matty Done used his pace to beat his marker and send a menacing ball into the six yard box after getting to the by-line. The unmarked and outstretching Peter Vincenti was just an inch too short to get a head on the cross and the ball flew across goal and out to Henderson on the right hand side of play. He sent it back into the area and forced a Leeds defender to head dangerously into the hands of his own goalkeeper.
It had been all Dale so far, but in the 14th minute Leeds were denied on the line by Matty Lund. The Dale midfielder was there to clear an effort from former Oldham Athletic striker, Matt Smith, who had flashed a header goal wards from a free-kick.
The effort didn’t de-rail Dale’s early enthusiasm and they continued in the same manner as seen during the opening exchanges. Two minutes after Lund had cleared off the line, Dale forced Paddy Kenny into an outstretched one handed save to deny Scott Hogan. Hogan had fired an angled shot at the ‘keeper after latching onto the end of a fabulous through ball from Vincenti.
As the game progressed the visitors’ only opportunities came via free-kicks and corner balls, but they failed to truly test Josh Lillis, thanks to a resolute Dale side.
The pace of the game was frantic and every time Keith Hill’s side built an attack, they always looked likely to score.
In the 29 minute, Dale had another golden opportunity as Hogan found himself one on one with Kenny. The young striker was caught in two minds after the ‘keeper had come well off his line, and in the end Kenny was able to smother the ball at Hogan’s feet.
And a minute later it was close again for Dale as Henderson fired into the side netting.
Henderson would be involved again before the half was out – he sent an effort just narrowly wide of the upright, before forcing Kenny to get down to at his post to keep him out after a blistering move down the right flank from Vincenti, led to Hogan playing in the Dale wide man.
It was Rochdale who were asking all the questions and they deservedly took the lead during stoppage time in the first half.
Vincenti was the man who again delivered into the box, and a rising Hogan glanced a header beyond Kenny to opening the scoring at Spotland.
GOAL: Rochdale 1-0 Leeds United (Hogan 45+2)
It was an outstanding first half performance from Dale, who had been the team asking all the questions.
HT: ROCHDALE 1-0 LEEDS UNITED
There were no changes at the interval for Rochdale as Manager Keith Hill stayed as was for the start of the second half.
Dale started the half with the same energy as they had shown in the first half, however United looked more dangerous than they had during the previous 45 plus minutes.
And in the 53 minute they had an opportunity cleared off the line for a second time. Smith had got on the end of a Leeds corner ball, but he was kept out by Bunney.
Four minutes later and Jack O’Connell pulled off a timely block to deny them from close range.
While the visitors were asking more questions, Rochdale remained strong in defence and posed a threat as they looked to hit Leeds on the break.
Just a minute before the hour mark the pace of Hogan allowed him to travel down the right hand flank before finding Henderson on the opposite flank. Hendo teed up a shot from just outside the area – it had all makings of his goal against Cheltenham Town earlier this season as he attempted to chip Kenny, but he couldn’t replicate the goal at Whaddon Road as the ‘keeper rose to collect.
In the 68th minute, Henderson was involved in the action again in the final third as he found himself through one on one with Kenny. This time the goalkeeper denied him with his legs.
The game was fast paced and immediately up the other end Ross McCormack rifled a shot from the edge of the area just inches past the upright.
The first substitution of the game soon followed, with Bunney making way for Graham Cummins in the 69th minute. The change took place before three consecutive Dale corners, with Leeds eventually scrambling the third clear.
In the 74th minute Lillis pulled off a timely save to send an effort from Danny Pugh round his near post, before Dale went onto pound the visitors with a sustained spell of pressure.
With 79 minutes on the clock Vincenti could only look on as he agonisingly pulled an effort just wide of the upright.
And two minutes later Vincenti was denied by Kenny who tipped his effort round the upright.
But it was in the 84th minute that Henderson secured Dale’s place in the fourth round of the competition with a sublime finish. He calmly lofted the ball up and over Kenny and into the top corner of the net.
GOAL: Rochdale 2-0 Leeds United (Henderson, 84 mins)
Dale went in search of a third and just two minutes after Henderson had extended Rochdale’s lead, Kenny again keeping Dale out with a fine save, which saw him tip Hendo’s effort, which was destined for the top corner of the net, over the cross bar.
Rochdale remained in control for the remaining five minutes to ensure progression in the competition.
It finished Rochdale 2, Leeds United 0.