A dominant and rampant performance saw Dale deservedly record a 3-0 win over the Saddlers to move up to ninth in the League One table, while Walsall dropped to third in the division after results elsewhere.
Ian Henderson opened the scoring after just three minutes as Dale set-out their attacking intent from kick-off. A Calvin Andrew double in the second half rounded off a truly excellent display. In a game where Josh
Lillis didn’t have a save to make, Dale could have had more - the Saddlers goalkeeper Neil Etheridge was to thank to for keeping the score-line at just three.
There was just one change for Rochdale, with Josh Lillis replacing Joel Castro Pereira, who returned to Manchester United on Tuesday.
Dale started the match strongly and after drawing an early save, took the lead against the league leaders.
Less than 30 seconds into the game Henderson’s strike from 25-yards was tipped over the bar by Etheridge. Calvin Andrew came close from the resultant corner, as he sent a dipping effort narrowly over the bar.
Buoyed by their confident start, Rochdale continued on the ascendancy and opened the scoring with just three minutes on the clock.
Andy Cannon worked exceptionally hard to get to the by-line before cutting the ball back across goal for the awaiting Henderson, who slotted the ball into the bottom corner of the net from close range.
Four minutes later goalkeeper Etheridge was called into action again, this time denying Cannon who struck a powerful drive from the edge of the 18-yard box.
The home side were unable to force Lillis into a single save during the half as Dale defended resolutely when needed. And while Rochdale looked comfortable at the back, they continued asking questions at the other end.
Cannon struck an effort into the side netting, before Callum Camps had an on target header kept out by the ‘keeper.
Etheridge then pulled off a magnificent one handed save to deny a bullet header from Henderson, who got on the end of a wonderful delivery by Michael Rose. A late offside flag went up but neither Henderson nor the goalkeeper were to know, so it was a brilliant save nonetheless.
In stoppage time, McDermott’s cross-come-shot, which looked to be dipping under the bar, was clawed away by Etheridge a couple of yards from the line.
It was the last chance of the half and the impressive Dale took a 1-0 lead into the interval. It could have been more after an excellent display.
HT: WALSALL 0-1 ROCHDALE
Rochdale started the second half in the same manner as they had played throughout the first half and were rewarded shortly before the hour mark as they doubled their advantage.
Andrew, who had seen a deflected effort tipped over the bar by Etheridge earlier in the half, sent a diving header beyond the goalkeeper after getting on the end of a McDermott corner ball.
It was richly deserved for Dale, who had were out-working and out-thinking the Saddlers.
Rochdale continued on the ascendancy and in the 70th minute Etheridge was forced to parry away an effort from Henderson, who had worked his way into the area. Vincenti couldn’t bring the rebound under control and could only watch on as the ball skipped behind.
Dale went on to net their third of the game nine minutes later.
McDermott powered up the left hand side of play before sending a low delivery into the area. It was met by Andrew who sent a first time side-footed effort beyond Etheridge.
Rochdale could have added to their tally shortly afterwards but were denied by a save and then a block on the line.
Before the game was out midfielder Jamie Allen made his return from injury as he replaced Vincenti.
All in all, a truly brilliant performance by Dale who were superb from start to finish.