A stoppage time goal from Matthew Lund saw Rochdale come from behind to secure a late win over Accrington Stanley at Rochdale on Saturday.
Piero Mingoia had given Stanley a 71st minute lead, which was cancelled out by Matty Lund six minutes later. Bunney stabbed home from a late corner to seal an important win for Dale in their push from promotion.
Manager Keith Hill made four changes to the eleven who lined up against Torquay United mid-week, with Graham Cummins, Ian Henderson, Matty Lund and Ashley Eastham replacing George Donnelly, Peter Vincenti, George Porter and the suspended Olly Lancashire.
Two minutes into the match, Dale had appeals for a handball turned away, following a quick move forward. Lund released Hendo down the right hand side of play, and after getting to the by-line he sent a cross in towards the near post, troubling Marcus Bettinelli who came to collect. The ‘keeper spilled the ball, and his team-mate who came to offer back up appeared to handle as he controlled the ball before hitting clear.
It was a positive start from Rochdale, who looked dangerous every time they drove forward during the opening exchanges, and in the ninth minute Bettinelli pulled off an important save to deny Matty Done.
It was a well worked effort, with Cummins doing exceptionally well to keep an over-hit cross from Joe Rafferty in play, before picking out Done on the edge of the area. The left full back sent a powerful deflected effort on goal, forcing the ‘keeper into a stretching two handed save to keep him out.
As the game settled, it became a relatively even and hard fought out affair, with both sides looking comfortable for much of the half, with the exception of a couple of opportunities each.
In the 22nd minute a dangerous cross from Lawrence Wilson took a deflection, causing Dale to scramble to try and hit clear, but after failing to do so, the ball skipped out of a play for a corner. Had a Stanley player got a touch on the ball, it probably would have ended up in the back of the net.
Five minutes later Peter Murphy came close for the visitors, as he sent an effort from seven yards fractionally wide of the upright.
Rochdale also had chances as the game progressed, both of which came from set-pieces.
On the half hour mark Jack O’Connell’s looping header from a free-kick dipped into the top netting, before Betinelli pushed a deflected on target Rose set-piece round the upright.
There were no further opportunities and the teams went in tied at the interval.
HT: Rochdale 0-0 Accrington Stanley
There were no changes at the break for either side.
The second half started in similar fashion to how much of the first half had played out, with the two defences remaining resolute.
Clear cut opportunities were at a premium in what was a hard fought encounter, with both sides limited to chances in the final third. Three minutes after the re-start Cummins curled an effort into the side netting, while Wilson pulled off a timely block to send a dangerous low cross from Done out of play shortly before the hour mark.
Three minutes later and Accrington broke forward, catching the Dale defence unawares. James Gray was able to send a ball into an empty box, but after Lillis made hard work of it, the visitors were able to offer support, and the ‘keeper had to smother at the second time of asking to stave off the danger.
In the 66th minute Rochdale had their second penalty appeal of the afternoon turned down, despite Cummins was firstly being shoved to the ground inside the area by Dean Winnard and then being pinned to the ground the defender. The referee wasn’t interested, though.
A piece of quality saw Accrington take the lead in the 71st minute after Rochdale failed to properly deal with a Lee Molyneux free-kick. The ball eventually fell to Piero Mingoia on the edge of the area and volleyed past Lillis, leaving the ‘keeper with no chance of a save.
GOAL: ROCHDALE 0-1 ACCRINGTON STANLEY (Mingoia, 71 minutes)
It had been a fairly lack lustre game up until the goal, but it burst into life during the last 20 minutes, however it still looked as though it just wasn’t meant to be for Dale as three minutes after the Mingoia put Stanley ahead, Dale had their third appeal of the game turned down; Lund this time the player who was brought to ground inside the box.
Moments later Henderson had the ball in the back of the net with a fine strike, only to be flagged off side.
Dale were building and in the 77th minute they got an important equaliser through Lund, who didn’t know too much about it - the midfielder’s goal coming after Accrington cleared a Rafferty cross off the face of Lund, with the ball ending up beyond Bettinelli.
GOAL: ROCHDALE 1-1 ACCRINGTON STANLEY (LUND, 77 minutes)
Lady luck certainly smiled on Dale and to be honest from here on in there looked likely to only be one winner if there was going to be one at all. Hill's side pushed for all three points with a couple of efforts on Bettenelli's goal, though none brought the stopper into action. His defence stood strong as Matthew Lund looked to smash the ball home from 12 yards with Aldred throwing his body on the line to block the effort in stoppage time.
The resulting corner ball brought the winner for Dale after Bunney met the corner with a firm header. The Accrington keeper could only parry the ball away to his left and Lund prodded home from close range to seal the win.
It finished Rochdale 2, Accrington Stanley 1.