Rochdale moved back into the automatic promotion places on Saturday with a deserved 3-0 win over ten man Plymouth Argyle at Spotland.
Quality finishes were the order of the day as Jamie Allen, Ian Henderson and Michael Rose netted in style to secure Dale’s eleventh home league win of the season.
Manager Keith Hill made two changes for the game – Matty Lund missed out through injury and was replaced by Jamie Allen, while George Donnelly started ahead of Scott Hogan.
It was a perfect start from Rochdale as youngster Jamie Allen gave Dale an early lead, following a well work move forward, which saw George Donnelly split open the Argyle defence. Donnelly sent a through ball into the path of Allen, who beat the offside trap, and he struck beyond ‘keeper Luke McCormick with a composed finished.
GOAL: Rochdale 1-0 Plymouth Argyle (Allen, 4)
Rochdale had started the match brightly, taking the game to the visitors, and they continued in the same manner throughout the half, as they controlled the tempo of the game.
It was quality football from Dale, and they continued to press the Argyle defence as they looked to carve an opening, and it left Argyle second best as Dale kept a foothold on the game.
Rochdale were patient in their play and nullified any threat from the Pilgrim’s, resulting in the visitors’ first shot on target coming with more than a quarter of an hour played – Rueben Reid forcing Josh Lillis to be alert at his post.
Plymouth Argyle’s remaining opportunities of the half came from set pieces, while a confident Dale piled the pressure on the opposition’s goal, after winning the midfield battle time and time again.
In the 28th minute, Rochdale were awarded a free-kick 35 yards from goal, and Rose fired an audacious effort goal wards directly from the set piece. He was just inches away from doubling Dale’s lead in spectacular fashion.
Moments later and Rochdale were denied on the line from a corner. Rose delivered the ball into a packed box, but Dale were kept out after managing to get an on target effort on goal.
Three minutes later, Allen tested McCormick as he sent a low driving effort in on goal, forcing the ‘keeper down loan to smother the effort.
And moments later, a timely block from former Dale defender Neal Trotman, was just enough to stop Donnelly from making a clean connection with the ball, as he fired a shot narrowly over the bar.
HT: Rochdale 1-0 Plymouth Argyle
There were no changes at the start of the second half as Manager Keith Hill stayed as was for the start of the second half.
After being kept at bay by a dominant Dale side in the first half, Plymouth offered more during the opening exchanges after the interval, and Lillis pulled off a fine reaction save to deny Curtis Nelson at his near post..
Nelson was sent through on goal by Conor Hourihane, and he fired the effort from an acute close range angle. It was an important save from Lillis, with the shot looking headed for the top corner of the net.
It had been a positive start to the second half for the visitors, but their good work was undone as they were reduced to ten men in the 52nd minute. Andrew Gurrieri was shown a straight red card after appearing to elbow Jack O’Connell in the face.
As the half continued, Rochdale looked comfortable, although the visitors did have an opportunity to draw level on the hour mark after Curtis Nelson got on the end of a delivery in the box. His effort appeared to be creeping in at the post, but somehow it stayed out and trickled past the upright.
Despite the scare, Dale always looked the most likely to score and they eventually doubled their advantage in the 75th minute through a quality strike from Ian Henderson.
Rose played Hendo in with a ball over the top, and after taking it to the by-line, he skipped past two defenders, before firing it into the top corner of the net from an acute angle. It was a precision finish Henderson, earning himself another Goal of the Season contender.
GOAL: Rochdale 2-0 Plymouth Argyle (Henderson, 75 minutes)
And it seemed the quality finishes were the order of the day as Michael Rose wrapped up the three points for Dale with a stunning finish in the 89th minute. He lobbed ‘keeper McCormick from distance, to lift Rochdale up to second in the Sky Bet League Two table.
GOAL: Rochdale 3-0 Plymouth Argyle (Rose, 89 minutes)
It finished Rochdale 3, Plymouth Argyle 0.