Rochdale progressed through to the knock-out stages of the Checkatrade Trophy as group winners on Wednesday evening with a 2-1 win over Hartlepool United.
The victory sees Dale go through as group winners.
Reuben Noble-Lazarus and Matty Gillam were on target for Dale, before Rhys Oates netted late in the game to pull a goal back for the home side.
Manager Keith Hill made the full quota of changes allowed for the match at Victoria Park which was watched by 380 fans. Second year scholar Matty Gilliam was amongst those to start the game after being handed his first team debut, whilst Aaron Morley, who made his debut in the competition last month, again featured. Five-year-old Joshua McCormack, Dale’s youngest ever signing, was named on the substitutes bench.
Debutant Gillam came close to opening the scoring with 11 minutes on the clock but he headed just over the bar from a Scott Tanser delivery into the area.
Rochdale were enjoying plenty of the ball and they deservedly took the lead 10 minutes later through Reuben Noble-Lazarus. After latching onto the end of a neat pass from Ollie Rathbone, he stuck low beyond Adam Barlett from the corner of the six-yard box.
An emotional moment followed, as the Dale players ran to the bench to raise Joshua McCormack’s shirt aloft in a special tribute to the young fan who has a terminal brain tumour.
Soon after, Gillam had his second opportunity of the evening, with his effort dipping over the bar.
Before the interval, Cannon had a chance to doubled Dale’s advantage but his powerful low effort from the edge of the area was struck narrowly wide of the post.
HT: HARTLEPOOL UNITED 0-1 ROCHDALE
After the break, Dale had an early opportunity after Noble-Lazarus was played in on goal but he struck across the face of goal and past the upright.
Two substitutions followed before the hour mark, with Brian Barry-Murphy and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing replacing Joe Thompson and Cannon, respectively.
The game, which was a very one-sided affair, was dominated by Dale and they came close on a couple of occasions before extending their lead.
Mendez-Laing weaved his way into the area and sent the ball low to Barry-Murphy at the back post who was unable to make a clean connection to see the ball over the line. The substitute then curled an effort
wide of the post from 20-yards before Gillam netted on his debut.
Mendez-Laing was involved again as he crossed for the second year scholar to finish from close range.
Rafferty almost got his name on the scoresheet after showing a great bit of skill to skip into the area, but he could only watch on as his effort, which looked destined for the back of the net, deflected up and over the bar.
In the 75th minute, there were concerns over Barry-Murphy as he left the field on a stretcher after awkwardly going to ground. Joe Bunney replaced the experience midfielder.
Gillam could have a second but his header from a Rathbone ball came crashing down off the underside of the bar and back into play.
Four minutes from time, the home side halved the deficit against the run of play after a misplaced pass allowed Rhys Oates in on goal.
The Pools rallied after their goal and finished with a flurry. With moments left to play, they hit post before a late offside flag went up, but Dale saw out the game to clinch the win.
FT: Hartlepool United 1, Rochdale 2.