Goals from Matty Done, Ashely Eastham, Ian Henderson and Stephen Dawson saw Rochdale record their first home win of the season in emphatic style, with an excellent 4-0 victory over Walsall and a display that matched the score line.
Rochdale named one change from the team that started at Sheffield United, with Bastien Hery coming in to replace Rhys Bennett. They lined up as Logan; Rafferty; Eastham; Vincenti; Dawson; Hery; Done; Tanser; Allen; O'Connell and Henderson. Former Rochdale men Ashley Grimes and Dean Holden started on the Bench for Walsall.
The game started at a lively pace and after just 5 Minutes Rochdale were rewarded with a goal from Matty Done. Vincenti climbed well to knock down a long ball into the path of Dawson, but with him surrounded by two defenders Done took the ball off his toe and burst through the gap left by Dawson's markers. With O'Donnell, the Walsall goalkeeper, charging towards him, Done looked up before picking his spot and driving the ball past the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
Peter Vincenti saw his name in lights as he tried his luck from the halfway line. The long ball was played towards Done but the keeper rushed out to clear it from the edge of his box. His rushed clearance fell invitingly to the feet of Vincenti on the halfway line who, with the keeper in no-mans land, tried his luck. His shot was on target but lacked the power to catch the keeper out, who got back to calmly collect the ball.
Henderson was next to have a chance fall to his feet after some neat wing play form Matty Done. He found himself on the right hand side and showed a turn of pace to beat his man and find space to swing a cross in. This found Henderson unmarked at the back post who tried to lob the ball back across goal and into the far corner. With the defender worriedly scrambling back, the effort dropped narrowly wide and out for a goal kick.
On the half hour mark, Rochdale doubled their lead as Ashley Eastham headed home his first goal for the Dale. Scott Tanser delivered a delicious free kick, swinging in from the right wing towards the back post. Of the three blue shirts rising unmarked, it was Eastham who got his head onto the ball to help it on its way into the far corner.
Walsall almost contributed towards their own downfall after a horrendous back pass by Romaine Sawyers. His ball rolled straight into the path of Done but the keeper was alert and rushed out to block him from getting a meaningful shot away.
Within 7 minutes, two became three as Ian Henderson joined the party after getting onto the end of a superb diagonal ball from midway into the Walsall half. With plenty of time and space he made no mistake this time, slotting the ball across goal and into the bottom corner, past the outstretched leg of O'Donnell.
Rochdale were now running rampant and the chances coming thick and fast. Just 3 minutes after opening his account for the night, Ian Henderson could have doubled his tally. The ball was worked out to Done on the left wing, who's first time ball drilled across the box found the lunge of Henderson. At full stretch however, he could only direct the ball narrowly wide.
Walsall's only chance of note came with one minute of the half remaining. Romaine Sawyers received the ball on the edge of the Dale box and after making a smart turn, was able to release a low drive. His effort was well parried by Logan, down low to his right and Joe Rafferty was on hand to mop up the loose ball.
HALF TIME: Rochdale 3-0 Walsall
Rochdale continued where they left off, playing with all the confidence of a team three goals ahead - epitomised by Ian Henderson. With Peter Vincenti winning everything in the air, he flicked a ball into the path of Henderson. As the ball sat up on the edge of the box, he swung a left foot at the ball on the half volley which Dipped wickedly over the head of the keeper who could only watch and hope. His prayers were answered however, as he watched Henderson's superb effort bounce back off the post to a defender who cleared the danger.
The chances just kept in coming for Ian Henderson who this time got onto the end of a ricochet off the leg of a defender. Finding himself once again in acres of space in the Walsall area. He drilled a low shot towards the far post but it was just wide.
71 minutes on the clock and Stephen Dawson made it 4-0 to Rochdale. After getting onto the end of another Vincenti flick on, he made his way into the box on the left hand side. He looked to fire a shot across the goalkeeper, and with him already diving, the ball deflected off the outstretched leg of the Walsall defender and dropped into the goal at the near post.
Ian Henderson will feel aggrieved not to have scored more than his single goal after seeing another lob drop just over the crossbar. After his run was found behind the Walsall defence, he saw the room as the goalkeeper came rushing out. His shot went high up in the air and straight back down, but just not quickly enough, as the ball clipped the top of the net on its way over.
Logan remained alert despite his lack of involvement in the game to stop a shot destined for the top corner. The shot came in from outside the area and as it headed for the top corner, Logan came from nowhere, leaping high to keep his clean sheet.
Done was the next player to try and get a 5th goal as he was handed another gift from the Walsall defence. From this, He was able to cut back onto his favoured left foot inside the box but after wrapping his foot around the ball, saw it fly over the crossbar.
With Rochdale looking like they would be happy to play all night, the referee brought proceedings to a close to a joyous reception from the Dale supporters, seeing their first home win of the season in emphatic style and plenty of value for money.
FULL TIME: Rochdale 4-0 Walsall
Man of the Match: Stephen Dawson
Report by Rob Anderson