Ten man Rochdale recorded a comprehensive victory over Northampton Town on Tuesday evening to move top of the Sky Bet League Two table.
Goals from Ian Henderson, Matty Lund and Joe Bunney earned Dale the three points, despite playing much of the second half with a man less after Lund was dismissed for a second bookable offence for celebrating with the Dale fans after his goal.
There were two changes for the game, with Peter Vincenti and Joe Bunney starting ahead of Michael Rose, who missed out altogether, and Graham Cummins. Scott Tanser was handed a place on the bench.
Rochdale left it late in Saturday’s encounter against Accrington Stanley, with two goals coming in the last twenty minutes, but they were quick off the mark at Sixfields as Ian Henderson gave Dale an early lead.
Hill’s side had been awarded a free-kick, just inside Northampton’s half, which was floated into the area by Joe Rafferty. Vincenti flicked the ball into the path of Hendo, who struck beyond an outstretched Matt Duke.
GOAL: Northampton Town 0-1 Rochdale (Henderson, 4 minutes)
The goal settled the game, with Dale going on to take a foothold on the match, and it was positive from Rochdale as they went in search of another.
Rochdale were frustrating the home side, earning a quick succession of free-kicks as they worked the Cobblers, however Northampton stood strong to limit clear cut opportunities either from the set pieces or from open play.
In the 12th minute Matty Lund attempted a volley from the edge the area, but his effort was well wide of the target, before Alan Connell had Northampton’s first real chance of the game two minutes later after the ball fell to him on the edge of the area after a quick move forward. He could only blast a shot over the bar.
Rochdale were in control though, and with 22 minutes on the clock some excellent vision from Lund saw him play a ball over the top for an on-running Henderson. He was through one on one with the ‘keeper only to be flagged offside.
The Cobblers had been chasing the game, but during the last 15 minutes of the half they began to pose more of a threat, with some great defending from Joe Raffery denying Emile Sinclair the opportunity to get a header away from a dangerous Connell cross on the half hour mark.
The Dale defence remained resolute however and the side could have doubled their advantage in the 36th minute as they hit Northampton on the break.
A cheeky turn from Bunney saw him lose his marker before finding Henderson, who ploughed down the left hand side of play. He picked out Vincenti, who was kept out at the near post by an alert Duke.
HT: Northampton Town 0-1 Rochdale
There were no changes for Dale at the interval, however there was one substitution for the home side as Brennan Dickenson replaced Zander Diamond.
Northampton started the half brightly, but Rochdale rode the early pressure, before going on to their advantage in the 55th minute and taking full charge of the game, as Lund sent a bullet header beyond Duke from a Vincenti cross.
GOAL: Northampton Town 0-2 Rochdale (Lund, 55 minutes)
The midfielder was sent off immediately after the goal, after receiving his second yellow card of the game, with the booking being given for celebrating with the Dale fans behind the goal.
Despite being down to ten men, Rochdale continued to look comfortable and they went on to add a third with 65 minutes on the clock. Bunney broke, and after showing some great composure as he was sutrounded by the Cobblers defence, he hit a brilliant strike past Duke.
GOAL: Northampton Town 0-3 Rochdale (Bunney, 65 minutes)
Rochdale continued to defend resolutely and frustrated the home side, who had the numerical advantage, with the Cobblers’ most notable effort coming from a snapshot in the 75th minute. Carter’s effort from just outside the 18 yard box was narrowly wide of the upright.
Dale’s first substitution of the match followed shortly afterwards as Bunney made way for George Donnelly.
In the 82nd minute Northampton were given a rare sight on goal as O’Connell slipped inside the area, allowing the Cobblers to get a shot away. The youngster did well to recover as he threw his body in the way to block the effort.
And had opportunities to make it four. Firstly, Henderson had beaten Duke, but could only curl his effort round the wrong side of the upright on 84 minutes, before Vincenti was denied by the woodwork in stoppage time. He too had beaten the ‘keeper, but his shot came off the inside of the post and trickled along the line before coming back into play.
It finished Northampton Town, Rochdale 3.