Rochdale earned a well-deserved three points on the road on Saturday with a 3-0 win over Southend United at Roots Hall.
Ian Henderson scored his 100th league goal in the victory, while Aaron Morley and Callum Camps were also on the scoresheet.
There were five changes to the side that lined-up in the midweek Carabao Cup tie against Carlisle United, as Rhys Norrington-Davies, Jimmy McNulty, MJ Williams, Rekeil Pyke and Ian Henderson were named in the starting XI.
Two goals in two minutes saw Rochdale take a commanding leading into the break, but it had been Southend United who had started the brighter of the two sides.
Despite their early pressure, they were unable to create any clear-cut opportunities, and Robert Sanchez was left without a save to make as Dale defended resolutely against the Shrimpers.
Patient Rochdale grew into the match and were dangerous in their attack.
In the 18th minute, Henderson, who had earlier received treatment for a facial injury, was dispossessed inside the area as he tried to get a shot away from Rhys Norrington-Davies’ low ball in from the left.
With Rochdale in the ascendancy, from Jimmy Keohane’s delivery, Callum Camps had a shot blocked, and it was two minutes later that Rochdale opened the scoring.
After a sublime team move, Morley played in Rekeil Pyke who in turn back heeled the ball into the path of Keohane. He sent a perfectly weighted low cross into the area for Henderson who slotted home from close range to score his 100th league goal for Rochdale.
And Dale’s second came two minutes later, Morley firing a sweet strike into the roof of the net from the edge of the area after another fine team move.
Eoghan O’Connell had an effort from a Camps free-kick held by Mark Oxley before the half was out, while Southend United’s Nathan Ralph tried a speculative effort from distance in stoppage time which rose high over the bar.
HT | SOUTHEND UNITED 0-2 ROCHDALE
Rochdale very nearly had the perfect start to the second half.
Sixty seconds after the restart, Norrington-Davies got away down the left and sent a low cross into the middle, which Hendo came within inches of meeting.
Either side of the hour mark, Camps was involved as Dale continued their search for a third. He firstly flashed a dangerous ball across the face of goal that no-one could get a decisive touch on, before having a strike from the edge of the area kept out by Oxley.
Sanchez made his first save of the match in the 67th minute, when he got down low to his right to turn a Stephen Humphrys effort behind for a corner.
Soon after, Southend's Brandon Goodship cut onto his right foot in the area and curled an effort narrowly past the far post.
Camps spotted Oxley off his line and sent a speculative strike from inside his own half goal wards, but in the end it was a comfortable catch for the ‘keeper.
Dale’s first change of the game followed, when Ollie Rathbone replaced Pyke.
Layton Ndukwu curled an effort wide for the host before Brian Barry-Murphy’s side extended their lead further with another fine move and goal.
MJ Williams clipped a ball down the left for Norrington-Davies to run on to and the Welshman pulled it back to Camps just inside the area and he cushioned a first-time effort into the bottom corner to put Dale 3-0 up.
Soon after, Matty Done replaced Henderson, and before Camps made way for Jimmy Ryan, he was involved in playing in Dooley, who had an effort saved by Oxley.
Rathbone sent a header from a central position wide as Dale continued to apply the pressure, and in stoppage time Done could have had his name on the scoresheet it wasn’t for Oxley in the Southend net.
Done thought he had found the bottom corner, only for the ‘keeper to produce a find save to turn it round the post.
Oxley produced another fine save 60 seconds later. O'Connell volleyed a cross into the ground at the back post which popped up for Done from a tight angle but somehow the goalkeeper got back to clear it off the line!
FT | SOUTHEND UNITED 0-3 ROCHDALE