Rochdale recorded their first home league win of the season on Saturday, thanks to a first-ever senior hat-trick for Ian Henderson. Dale also had two further goals ruled out, in the 3-0 win over Gillingham at the Crown Oil Arena.
Manager Keith Hill made four changes to the side that lined-up against Scunthorpe United last weekend. Josh Lillis returned to action after recovering from injury to replace Magnus Norman in goals, while Ryan Delaney was back from international duty to take the place of Jim McNulty, and Matty Gillam and Aaron Wilbraham came in for Andy Cannon and Zach Clough.
It was end to end at times during an entertaining first half, although it was Rochdale who created all of the clear cut opportunities, with Lillis without a goal denying save to make. The only time he was called into action during the half was to block behind a low Tom Eaves effort-come-delivery at the near post.
Callum Camps had Dale’s first chance of the game on seven minutes, when did exceptionally well to get a powerful effort away, despite losing his footing, and Tomas Holy in the Gillingham goal was there to hold.
And it was two minutes later that Henderson put Keith Hill’s side 1-0 up. Lillis' ball out was flicked on by Aaron Wilbraham, and as Calvin Andrew was bundled to the ground on the edge of the area, the Rochdale skipper raced onto the ball and finished low beyond Holy and in the bottom corner of the net.
In the 18th minute, he was on target again, scoring Rochdale’s second and his 94th for the club. Gillam fed the ball through to Henderson who ran at goal before slotting home from a tight angle.
Minutes later and Ryan Delaney had the ball in the back of the net, heading home from a Sam Hart corner, but the ‘goal’ was ruled out for a foul inside the area.
Dale were in goal again soon after, when Henderson drew a save from the Gillingham stopper, only to see a late offside flag raised.
The Gills should have done better when they had an opportunity just after the half hour mark, but Eaves scooped the ball wide of the target from close range. But their best chance of the half came in the 41st minutes, when Eaves rose highest to meet a deep Mark Byrne delivery in from the right, heading across goal and narrowly wide of the upright.
And it was Rochdale who finished with a flurry, winning a string of corners, with Rathbone having a couple of efforts form distance charged down and defended behind and the Gills seeing out a Camps volley.
HT | ROCHDALE 2-0 GILLINGHAM
Rochdale started the second half as they’d finished the first, and Henderson almost had his hat-trick within 60 seconds of the restart, but he saw his header from a Hart corner ruled out for a foul inside the area.
Two minutes later, and Camps, who had spotted Holy off his line, struck a speculative shot at goal from the edge of the centre-circle and watched on as it dropped just wide of post.
It was an action-packed opening to the second half, and a short time later, the Gills’ Eaves was denied by the woodwork, when his powerful snapshot dipped late and came crashing off the bar.
Dale looked extremely comfortable, though, and continued on the ascendancy, causing problem for the visitors. And before Henderson got his name on the score sheet for a third time, Gillam sent a diving header wide of the post.
And it was in the 64th minute the Dale Captain, Henderson, scored the goal that secured his first professional hat-trick, as he netted in style. From Wilbraham’s clipped cross, Hendo finished beyond Holy with an acrobatic scissor kick. It was definitely one to be savoured.
On 72 minutes the Gills had half chance, when Eaves did well to hold the ball up on the right side, turned and crossed from the byline where Elliot List narrowly sent a header wide of the post.
A short time later, the visitors had partially defended away a Hart corner as far as Camps, and he linked up with the on-loan Blackburn full-back who drilled a powerful low effort off the base of the post.
Rochdale’s first substitution of the game soon followed in the 78th minute, when Jordan Williams replaced Andrew, and with the game wrapped up, Henderson got his standing ovation when he made way for Matty Done 11 minutes later. In stoppage time, Daniel Adshead came on for Matty Gillam.
Three goals, three points and a clean sheet have moved Rochdale up to 13th in the Sky Bet League One table.
FT | ROCHDALE 3-0 GILLINGHAM