Rochdale climbed to fourth place in the League One table following a deserved 3-0 win over Preston North End at Spotland on Saturday.
Goals from Jack O'Connell, Ian Henderson and Matty Done earned Dale three points and brought the Lillywhites’ eight match winning run.
Manager Keith Hill had originally named an unchanged eleven for the game, however, he was forced into making a late switch after Jamie Allen picked up an injury during the warm up – Bastien Hery started in his place.
Meanwhile, there were two changes on the bench as Monday’s loan signing, Rueben Noble-Lazarus, and Callum Callum Camps replaced Jack Muldoon and Joe Bunney.
The game opened with both sides looking lively and value for their respective good form going into the fixture.
The first real chance of the game fell the way of Preston’s Joe Garner as he got his head on the end of a free kick. Paul Gallagher swung the set piece into the box from the right from which Garner saw his header crash off the top of the crossbar and out for a goal kick.
Some neat one-two play between Rose and Hery inside the Preston half created a chance for Hery on the edge of the box. After receiving the return from Rose, Hery pushed towards goal and released a drive which flew wide of the post. Matty Done may have been frustrated not to be played through by the Frenchman.
With 28 minutes on the clock, Bastien Hery was causing the North End midfield all sorts of problems and his superb quick feet drew a foul on the halfway line, one which would lead to the opening goal of the game. The resulting free kick was sent towards the far post and looked a comfortable claim for Jones in the Preston goal. From nowhere however, O'Connell crept in and stooped to guide the ball past the planted goalkeeper, who could merely stand and watch the ball nestle into the back of his net.
Three minutes later and it was 2-0 as Ian Henderson guided the ball past Jamie Jones. Bennett picked the ball up just inside the Preston half, and was invited to keep pushing on by the back-tracking defence. From the angle of the box, on the right hand side, he clipped a delicious ball into the area which found the run of Henderson perfectly, who calmly slotted the ball past Jones on the volley to double Dale's advantage.
Conrad Logan, well known for his distribution, delivered one of the best balls you will see all season in any league to release Ian Henderson. After receiving an awkward bouncing ball back from Scott Tanser, the on-loan goalkeeper nonchalantly half-volleyed a 75 yard ball into the run of Henderson in the far corner. After cutting back inside, he delivered an in swinging cross towards Matty Done but it was too close to the goalkeeper who calmly collected.
HALF TIME: Rochdale 2-0 Preston
Preston began the second half with purpose and looked to ramp up the pressure on the Rochdale defence. For all their pressure however, Logan was only troubled once during this spell. The ball was played over the top from midfield into the path of Joe Garner, and with no support he decided to unleash a fierce drive from the corner of the box. His effort looked to be bending into the top corner, but for Logan who dived to brilliantly tip the ball around the post.
Dale weathered the storm superbly and were rewarded for their resolute performance on the hour mark as Matty Done slammed the ball into the unguarded goal. Hery orchestrated a lightning quick counter attack and it was his ball that put Done through on goal. With Henderson in support, he elected to take the ball around the goalkeeper but looked to have made the wrong decision as Jones got his hands to it. The ball squirmed free however, and Done was left with the simple task of putting the ball into the empty net and giving Dale a commanding position in the game.
With 15 minutes of the game remaining, Preston looked to have been given a lifeline as they were awarded a penalty after Eastham was harshly judged to have tripped his man inside the area. Garner stepped up to take the penalty and drilled a low shot to Logan's right, but it was more heroics from the Rochdale goalkeeper as he got down brilliantly to parry the ball away from goal - his third consecutive penalty save. He wasn't done yet however; after collecting the ball from the follow up, his punt upfield released Done through on goal but his shot flashed across goal and wide.
From here, Dale never looked under pressure as Keith Hill made his substitutions to see out the game, with every man serenaded off the pitch with a standing ovation from the stands. Dale cantered towards the full time whistle, playing football with the enjoyment we have seen so much of so far this season and receive their reward of a superb, and thoroughly deserved victory.
FULL TIME: Rochdale 3-0 Preston
Man if the Match: Conrad Logan.
Report by Rob Anderson