Dale started their season in the perfect manner with a 2-0 victory over Peterborough United at Spotland.
A fortuitous deflection found Callum Camps in the area who was composed enough to poke the ball home in the 18th minute.
Reuben Noble-Lazarus doubled the lead just moments after coming on in the second half to seal all three points.
Josh Lillis started in goal, with a back four of Andy Cannon, Oliver Lancashire, Jimmy McNulty and Tom Kennedy. New Matchday Captain Jamie Allen started as the deepest midfielder, with Camps and Donal McDermott just ahead of him. Peter Vincenti and Joe Bunney were on the flanks, with Ian Henderson in the lone striker role.
The sun was beating down around Spotland, as it should on the first day of the new season. Two of Dale’s three summer signings started, and they slotted in with ease as Keith Hill’s men got off to a promising start.
The teams traded shots from distance early on, with Peterborough Captain Michael Bostwick firing well over, and Henderson curling an effort straight at Ben Alnwick.
The Spotland crowd didn’t have long to wait for Dale’s first goal of the season, which came from Camps. Donal McDermott tried to play a ball through to Henderson which deflected straight into the path of Camps. His first touch was composed, allowing him to poke the ball into the back of the net with his second.
Dale had shaded to first half and were rewarded with that bit of good fortune. However, the visitors nearly equalised shortly after through Dale’s Jimmy McNulty. Marcus Maddison sent a cross over from the left which McNulty sliced just over his bar.
Lillis had to be alive between the sticks to deny an equaliser a couple of times either side of the half hour mark. First, Jon Taylor’s shot from the edge of the box was well held, before Conor Washington’s flick from Kgosi Ntlhe’s shot was well saved.
As half-time approached, last season’s top scorer Henderson was the man most likely to create a second for Dale. He had a penalty appeal turned down when he was felled by Gabriel Zakuani, before his flick from Cannon’s cross was deflected over for a corner.
Henderson then found McDermott with a neat clip over the defence, but the ball sat up on the Dale debutant and forced him into an acrobatic effort which went well wide.
McNulty was inches away from doubling the lead three minutes after half time. Camps’ cross from the left was just ahead of him, before the ball deflected back off him and straight into the arms of Alnwick.
Bostwick and Cannon traded efforts from just outside the area which went comfortably wide, as the visitors had their brightest spell of the game with a number of corners, putting pressure on Dale.
And they had a superb chance to equalise just after the hour mark. Maddison played a ball through to Joe Gormley who was in space, but he fired a low shot past Lillis’ right post.
Keith Hill made two quick substitutions in succession, with Calvin Andrew replacing Bunney, and Reuben Noble-Lazarus replacing McDermott.
The introduction of Andrew saw Henderson drop into a central midfield role, and he instantly began to see more of the ball. He sent a superb cross to the back post where Andrew and Vincenti were, with the latter heading the ball across goal and back off the post, before being cleared.
Dale were the width of the post from doubling their lead, but they managed to do so just a minute later through Noble-Lazarus. Henderson found the substitute with a superb through ball, and with his first involvement he took a touch and fired a clinical effort into the far bottom corner.
Confidence was high and Dale began to play with a swagger that almost saw them extend their lead a couple of times. Firstly, Henderson nicked the ball on the halfway line and launched a counter attack. He played in Andrew who was denied by Alnwick at his feet, with Vincenti poking the loose ball to Henderson whose shot was deflected wide.
Henderson then played a perfect through ball for Andrew, but his right foot shot flew well over the bar.
Michael Rose replaced Camps as Dale looked to secure all three points in the final ten minutes.
It worked to good effect as Keith Hill’s men were comfortable in seeing out their two goal cushion until the end. Henderson troubled Alnwick with an effort from range in the final minute of normal time, but that was the only chance of note.
The perfect start for Dale after a fine performance. The league takes an instant back seat as we welcome Coventry City in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday. We’ll see you there!