Ollie Rathbone’s first senior goal put Dale ahead just after the half hour mark, before Reuben Noble-Lazarus doubled the lead nine minutes later.
Substitute Steven Davies scored a penalty fifteen minutes from time, before bagging his sixth goal in his last three matches in injury time to put the icing on the cake for Dale.
Keith Hill made two changes from Saturday’s thumping victory over Swindon Town. Scott Tanser replaced the suspended Joe Bunney, whilst Harrison McGahey came in for Keith Keane who limped off at weekend.
The first half was a very quiet affair for the opening 20 minutes, as both sides struggled to find their rhythm. Once the game opened up though, it was Dale who dominated proceedings.
Rathbone headed over a Nathaniel Mendez-Laing cross, before Thompson met Tanser’s cross at the back post, with his effort deflecting behind for a corner.
Walsall skipper Adam Chambers struck their only effort of the first half wide of Conrad Logan’s right post on the half hour mark, whilst at the other end Thompson was inches away from connecting with Joe Rafferty’s sumptuous low ball into the area.
Dale opened the scoring just two minutes later, and it was a moment to remember for summer signing Rathbone. He picked up on a loose ball on the right before exchanging a lovely one-two with Thompson.
Rathbone’s touch inside the area was delightful and set himself up perfectly for his effort which he fired through the goalkeeper’s legs.
His first senior goal capped off an excellent first half display from him, and he came close to doubling his tally shortly afterwards. Rafferty’s near post cross was headed goalwards by Rathbone, but Neil Etheridge showed quick reactions to palm the ball over the crossbar.
Noble-Lazarus tried his luck with a back post volley from a tight angle, but couldn’t get the direction. However, he was presented with a much easier chance in the 41st minute, one which he duly took.
Rathbone’s through ball found Mendez-Laing who broke into the area and pulled the ball to back the post via a defelction. Noble-Lazarus was waiting and struck goalwards with the ball just crossing the line to give
Dale a two goal cushion, despite Etheridge’s best efforts.
Dale carried on in much the same vein after the break, as Noble-Lazarus forced Etheridge into a save with a fizzing effort, before Rafferty’s half volley at the back post was closed down and deflected wide.
Davies replaced Noble-Lazarus shortly before the hour mark, hoping to have the same impact as he did on Saturday when he scored a brace.
He managed to do just that, with his first goal one he created with a brilliant curling pass into the area for Mendez-Laing to race on to, before Etheridge brought him down to concede a penalty. Davies stepped up and struck a perfect penalty into the top left corner.
Ian Henderson replaced Mendez-Laing and almost finished off a fine Dale move. Thompson held the ball up well on the edge of the area before a delightful back heel into Henderson’s path. The substitute sold the defender a dummy as he cut back inside onto his right foot, but Etheridge got the slightest of touches to divert the ball wide of his right post.
Sanmi Odelusi replaced Man of the Match Rathbone to a standing ovation from the Crown Oil Arena, and had a low shot held by Etheridge shortly after coming on.
Rochdale netted a goal in added time, when Davies picked up on a weak Walsall back pass. He dropped a shoulder to deceive the goalkeeper 30 yards out and create room for the shot, which he whipped into the back of the net with aplomb.
It secured a dominant 4-0 victory for Dale, and moved Keith Hill’s side up into the play-off places.