Joe Thompson opened the scoring in the first half and Ollie Rathbone doubled Dale’s advantage early after the break. Calvin Andrew netted the third to put Keith Hill’s side 3-0 up with 75 minutes on the clock.
Rochdale had looked to have put the game out of sight but the Iron netted twice in a four minute spell to set-up a nervy last few minutes, but the win was never in doubt and Dale saw the game out comfortably.
There were five changes to the side that lined-up against Chesterfield in Tuesday night’s Checkatrade Trophy match. Joe Rafferty, Callum Camps, Ollie Rathbone, Joe Thompson and Steven Davies were all back involved.
There was a brilliant atmosphere inside the Crown Oil Arena as the top of the table clash unfolded at a frantic pace.
Dale looked a real threat every time they went forward and in the 11th minute they forced Luke Daniels into the first save of the game. After Thompson won a corner from an excellent piece of skill which got the fans going, Harrison McGahey had an effort tipped round the upright.
Six minutes later, Rochdale had the ball in the back of the net through Ian Henderson. He had latched onto the end of a Rafferty pass and finished beyond Daniels, only to see the goal ruled out for a hand ball.
Matty Lund flashed a snap shot wide from distance, before former Dale player Scott Wiseman charged forward from his right-back position to fire wide of Conrad Logan’s right hand post.
The Iron’s best move of the half came in the 39th minute when Duane Holmes broke up the left hand flank and delivered low across the face of goal. With play stretched, any touch from a visiting player would have seen the ball turned over the line, but Lund was there to excellently defend behind.
A minute later, and Henderson came within inches of opening the scoring from a Bunney ball into the area, but he could only steer the ball wide of the post.
Dale didn’t have to wait long for a goal, though, as Thompson gave Keith Hill’s side a deserved lead sixty seconds later. Bunney got to the byline and delivered low across goal to the back post for Thompson to finish from close range and spark wonderful celebrations.
HT: ROCHDALE 1-0 SCUNTHORPE UNITED
Three minutes into the second period, Rochdale had the first opportunity of the half. Henderson broke up the left and delivered low into the area for Davies, who was dispossessed by Bishop before he could get a shot away.
Dale went on to double their advantage in the 53rd minute. The outstretched Ollie Rathbone got a toe to a seeming lost-cause ball, and did enough to send his effort past the stranded Daniels and into the bottom corner of the net.
Calvin Andrew made his return from suspension on the hour mark, replacing Steven Davies.
Rochdale continued to turn the screw and they came agonisingly close to finding a third on a couple of occasions. Lund stabbed narrowly past the upright from a corner, before goal scorer Thompson sent an effort just wide.
But Dale finally got a deserved third in the 75th minute through substitute Andrew. After Dale hit the Iron on the break, Henderson picked out the forward and his strike from inside the 18-yard box took a deflection, taking it up and over Daniels.
Hill’s side looked out of sight, but the visitors scored twice in a four minute period to set up a nervy end to the game, although the win was never in doubt as Dale saw the game out comfortably.
Substitute Tom Hopper finished from close range, before Bishop latched onto the end of an Iron free-kick to send the ball past Logan.
Rathbone was replaced by Cannon soon after the second goal went in, and in stoppage time, Henderson made way for Nathaniel Mendez-Laing as Dale saw down the clock to see out the game.
It finished Rochdale 3, Scunthorpe United 2.