A brace from Steven Davies secured Rochdale’s place in the second round of the Emirates FA Cup, with Dale recording a 2-0 win over Maidstone United at the Crown Oil Arena.
Davies put Dale ahead in the 14th minute, turning Joe Rafferty’s low cross home from close range. The striker bagged his second from the penalty spot eight minutes later after Joe Bunney had been pulled down inside the area.
Keith Hill’s men were comfortable in a second half where they could have added to their tally, but the first half goals were enough to secure a tie against Carlisle United in the next round.
There were four changes from Saturday’s defeat at Bradford City. Conrad Logan, Jimmy McNulty, Harrison McGahey and Reuben Noble-Lazarus all started, whilst the squad included four youth team players. Aaron Morley, Matthew Gillam, Andrew Hollins and Neil Kengni Kuemo made the substitute’s bench, alongside youth product Scott Tanser.
Dale came seconds away from being knocked out of the FA Cup in the first game, before forcing the replay with a late equaliser. The Maidstone fans that travelled were in good voice in the Wheatsheaf Shopping Centre Stand, and saw their side create the first chance of the match.
A low cross from the right was met by Jamar Loza, who wrapped his right foot around the ball from 15 yards out but saw it fly narrowly over the crossbar.
Dale had appeals for a penalty waved away when Joe Thompson hit the deck in the 10th minute. Noble-Lazarus’ shot was deflected into his path, and as he pulled back his leg to shoot he appeared to be impeded.
Fortunately, it wouldn’t cost Dale as they broke the deadlock four minutes later. Rafferty’s low ball dissected defence and goalkeeper, to be met by the on-running Davies who turned the ball high into the net.
Davies had a great chance to double his lead just two minutes later. A swift Dale counter attack led to a Noble-Lazarus cross from the right, but Davies turned the ball over the crossbar on the volley.
However, midway through the half the striker would get the chance to double his tally from the penalty spot. McNulty’s lofted through ball turned the defence, and as Bunney latched on to it he was pulled down inside the area. Referee Nigel Miller had no hesitation in pointing the spot and Davies sent goalkeeper Lee Worgan the wrong way to double Dale’s lead.
Davies was proving a thorn in The Stone’s defence and had chances to complete a first half hat-trick. He was inches away from meeting Callum Camps’ chipped pass, before lashing a wild effort well off target from 35 yards.
His best opportunity came five minutes before the break when he was found by Rafferty’s pull back. The striker created space for a powerful shot which was well saved by Worgan at his near post.
Nathaniel Mendez-Laing created the final chance of the half for himself, cutting inside on to his left foot before firing just wide of Worgan’s left post.
Oliver Rathbone replaced Andy Cannon at half-time and had Dale’s first chance of the second period. He met Bunney’s out-swinging corner but could only head over from 10 yards.
The substitute then forced Worgan into a low stop after breaking down the left side of the area, with the defence clearing after the goalkeeper couldn’t collect.
Jack Evans tested Logan with a free-kick from almost 30 yards, before Tom Mills’ effort from the outside the box was cleared by Bunney before it could reach Logan’s net.
Noble-Lazarus had a stinging effort beaten away by Worgan, before he was instrumental in a counter attack which could have sealed Davies’ hat trick. Noble-Lazarus exchanged a one-two with Mendez-Laing, before finding Rathbone on the right. He shifted the ball to Davies, who was denied by the feet of Worgan.
It would be Davies’ last involvement as he was replaced by Scott Tanser to a standing ovation. Bunney moved forward to take up the striking role.
Rathbone’s wicked effort was deflected out for a corner, from which Mendez-Laing headed Rafferty’s cross narrowly wide after the set-piece had been played short.
Noble-Lazarus was replaced by Morley with six minutes remaining to help Dale confirm their passage through to round two.
Keith Hill’s side could have added a third in four minutes of added time, firstly when Camps’ deflected effort was headed off the line. Substitute Tanser came away inches from scoring his first of the season when his right footed effort curled just wide of Worgan’s left post.
The damage had already been done though as far as Dale were concerned, and they will now face a trip up the M6 to face Carlisle United in round two.