Rochdale were resounding 3-0 winners over Bury on Derby Day at Spotland.
Nathaniel Mendez-Laing scored twice during a seven minute spell early in the first half to put Dale in control.
Ashley Eastham’s header eight minutes after half-time completed the scoring to give Keith Hill’s men a comfortable victory over their near neighbours.
The Dale boss named the same side that started in last week’s 1-0 win at Coventry City, with only one change on the substitute’s bench. Nyal Bell, recalled from his loan spell at Chester during the week, replaced the injured Grant Holt.
There was a great derby day atmosphere inside Spotland for the third meeting of the season between the two sides. After an even opening, it was Dale who took the occasion by the scruff of the neck in the 11th minute.
Donal McDermott was found from a throw in and sent a ball to Ian Henderson in the area. His touch and shot ricocheted into the path of Mendez-Laing, who slotted home calmly to give Dale an early lead.
The celebrations had barely stopped when the lead, and Mendez-Laing’s tally, was doubled. A simple ball forward from Dale led to confusion in the Bury defence, with Tom Soares and Craig Jones both failing to clear and goalkeeper Ian Lawlor hesitating. Mendez-Laing took full advantage and stole in to round Lawlor and slot home a simple second.
It was the Dale faithful making all the noise after seeing their side make a blistering start and taking a fully deserved lead.
Efforts were restricted to those from range as Dale ensured they did not let the visitors back into the game. Michael Rose had two efforts well off target, whilst Ryan Lowe had Bury’s best chance of the half, but saw his strike blocked out for a corner.
McDermott was causing the Bury defence all sorts of problems with his trickery on the ball and his effort from range moved in the air but was well held by Lawlor.
As the game neared half-time, Dale were unlucky not to make it three on a couple of occasions. McDermott’s quick free-kick found Mendez-Laing, who pulled the ball back to the near post from the byline. However, Ashley Eastham couldn’t make the connection to turn the ball home.
As the game entered stoppage time, Jamie Allen powered forward on the counter attack and crossed from the left, with the ball cannoning off Peter Clarke and onto the legs of the goalkeeper before being cleared.
Dale carried on in the second half where they had finished the first. After Danny Mayor sent a shot wide for Bury, Henderson was released behind the defence at the other end. He cut back onto his right foot in the area, but his effort was tipped round the post by Lawlor.
Dale took full advantage of the corner though, with Eastham heading home powerfully from Michael Rose’s corner. It was an out swinging the delivery and the centre back rose above Reece Brown to ripple the back of the net in front of the Sandy Lane end.
At 3-0 it was almost game over, but Bury had a couple of opportunities to kick start a comeback midway through the half. Substitute Sean Clare forced Josh Lillis into his first save of the match after a run down the right side of the penalty area.
The resulting corner caused mayhem in the area as Dale failed to clear, before Peter Clarke sent the ball over the crossbar. Bury right-back Jones then forced Lillis into another save after a lay off on the edge of the area.
Henderson saw an effort from range fly wide as the game entered the final 20 minutes. Callum Camps replaced McDermott, with the Irishman receiving a standing ovation from those of a Dale persuasion. Mendez-Laing would be denied his hat-trick as he was replaced by Joe Bunney with ten minutes left on the clock.
Camps and Allen both had long range efforts as Dale looked for a fourth, the latter forcing Lawlor into a low save.
Rhys Bennett replaced Matthew Lund in the final minute of normal time, just before the fourth official signalled there would be three minutes of added time.
These passed comfortably and the referee’s whistle was greeted by a huge cheer from the home supporters after a fantastic derby day performance from their side earned the bragging rights, but more importantly the three points.