Rochdale secured three points on the road on Tuesday evening following a comprehensive 4-0 win over Plymouth Argyle at Home Park.
Jake Beesley, Aaron Morley, Jimmy Keohane and Stephen Humphrys all netted in the emphatic win.
Beesley opened the scoring after just three minutes, but his goal, and the game, was over shadowed when he sustained a head injury a short time later. Morley fired home soon after the game restarted with a thunderbolt of a strike from 20-yards, while Keohane netted with a header deep in stoppage time at the end of the first half. Humphrys deservedly added a fourth late in the second period to round off the scoring.
There was one change to the side that lined-up against Northampton Town a week ago, as Ryan McLaughlin came in for Tolaji Bola.
Rochdale tested early on, as Stephen Humphrys saw his shot from a Beesley flick on blocked on the edge of the area.
Dale had started brightly and the opener came moments later.
Having latched brilliantly onto the end of a perfectly weighted ball forward from Humphrys, Beesley showed great composure to round goalkeeper Michael Cooper and slide the ball home from a tight angle to break the deadlock on three minutes.
The goal was the summer signing’s first of the league campaign, having previously netted in the Papa John’s Trophy, but any joy was soon dampened as a head injury sustained by the forward overshadowed the good start.
The 23-year-old was clattered into the by the ‘keeper soon after he had opened the scoring as they both challenged for a ball on the edge of the box and, following a lengthy spell of treatment on the pitch, his evening came to an end as he was stretched off and replaced by Stephen Dooley.
Play was stopped for a near 15 minutes whilst Beesley received treatment for his injury, and after play resumed, the hosts came close to levelling terms.
Luke Jephcott hit the post immediately after the restart, while Matty Lund blocked George Cooper’s follow up on the line at the near post.
But three minutes later, Dale doubled their advantage through Morley’s powerful strike.
Alex Newby and Humphrys combined to keep a Rochdale move alive after it looked like the ball might run out of play. The latter then found Lund who back-heeled the ball to Rathbone. He in turn laid it off to Morley and the midfielder rifled a shot into the back of the net from 20-yards to extend Rochdale’s lead.
Newby then had a curling effort well-held by Cooper, before Conor Grant fired a left-footed shot narrowly wide of the far post and Rathbone struck wide of the target with a speculative effort.
Due to the earlier lengthy stoppage, 19 minutes were added on at the end of the first half and it was during added time that Brian Barry-Murphy’s side extended their lead further.
Argyle did have one opportunity on goal, but Lynch got down well to hold a low shot from Ben Reeves, as a comfortable Dale controlled proceedings.
And 12 minutes into added time Keohane put Rochdale 3-0 up. Dooley’s cross was met by Keohane, who headed down and into the far corner, leaving ‘Cooper rooted to the spot as Scott Wootton looked on in bewilderment following a defensive mix-up.
Before the half was out, provider Dooley came within inches of getting his own name on the scoresheet but he glanced a header from Keohane’s ball into the area narrowly wide.
HT | PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 0-3 ROCHDALE
The home side tested first in the second half, when Reeves sent a volley narrowly wide of Lynch’s left post with sixty seconds of the restart. Frank Nouble then headed high over the bar from a cross in from the right.
Dale defended for long spells, but they did so resolutely and comfortably, while looking to hit Argyle on the counter at every available opportunity and they looked threatening going forward.
Such was Rochdale’s solid display, the hosts failed to truly test Lynch, and Barry-Murphy’s side went on to net a fourth, in the 73rd minute, Humphrys grabbing the goal his performance deserved. Rathbone found Dooley who clipped the ball in for Humphrys and he glanced a header in at the far post.
Dale’s second change of the game followed in the 77th minute, when Matty Done replaced Newby. Five minutes later there were a further two changes, as Morley and Humphrys made way for Jimmy Ryan and Fabio Tavares.
Argyle Substitute Panutche Camara sent a volley well-wide, before Rathbone struck high over the high bar.
In the closest they came during the half, Camara sent a header narrowly over the bar with the last effort of the game, but Lynch had it well covered.
FT | PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 0-4 ROCHDALE