Rochdale secured a vital and well deserved three points on the road on Saturday with a 2-1 win over Lincoln City.
Goals from Ollie Rathbone and Stephen Humphrys ensured victory for Dale at the LNER Stadium.
Rathbone put the side ahead in the 36th minute with a strike from outside the area. The Imps then equalised against the run of play on the hour mark, when Brennan Johnson fired into the top corner from range. Dale were superb throughout and got the winner they deserved in the 74th minutes, with Humphrys seeing his shot go in off the post.
There was one change from the midweek fixture against Shrewsbury Town, as Rathbone retuned from suspension and went straight into the starting eleven, replacing Haydon Roberts. Meanwhile, Stephen Dooley, back from injury, was named on the bench.
Rochdale started strongly and won a succession of corners during the opening exchanges, with Conor Shaughnessy forcing Alex Palmer to produce a fine save. With five minutes on the clock, Conor Grant sent a corner into the area which headed on by Eoghan O’Connell and Shaughnessy’s effort from denied by the ‘keeper, who pushed it round the upright.
From the resulting corner, Shaughnessy again was involved in the action, seeing his header turned behind.
Palmer was again on hand to deny Dale in the 17th minute, as Dale won yet another corner, their fifth of the game so far. Gabriel Osho won the header from the delivery into the box and as Humphrys battered to get on the end of Jimmy Keohane’s flick on, the goalkeeper punched away the danger.
As the half progressed, Rochdale remained in control, and shortly after the half hour, from yet another corner, O’Connell had a header held at the back post.
Deadlock was finally broken in the 36th minute, when Dale opened the scoring with a throughly deserved goal. Rathbone fired a left-footed from 20-yards beyond Palmer and into the bottom corner.
A couple of minutes before the break, Stephen Humphrys came agonisingly close to doubling Rochdale’s advantage. After hitting the Imps on the break, Done played a low ball in towards the forward who came sliding in, but under pressure from a number of defenders, he turned the ball inches wide of the far post.
HT | LINCOLN CITY 0-1 ROCHDALE
The second half started in the same manner as the first half, with Rochdale on the front foot, and five minutes after the restart, Palmer kept out Humphrys.
After being played in by Rathbone, he saw his effort well saved. The ‘keeper could only push it back into play, though, and the danger was eventually averted, when a Lincoln defender turned the ball across goal narrowly wide of the upright.
Five minutes later, Dale came agonisingly close once more to a second. Osho was denied on the line. After rising to meet Done’s corner to the back post, powered a header a goal, only to see cleared off the line.
There were then claims for Dale penalty as Humphrys took the ball past his marker inside the area before being upended, but there was nothing given.
After Rochdale were denied a spot-kick, Lincoln went down the other end and equalised against the run of play, a couple of minutes later with a fine strike, as Rogers fired into the top corner from the edge of the box.
The goal gave the Imps a new found impetus and the game became end to end at times.
After Humphrys struck narrowly wide of the post from 20-yards, Gavin Bazunu made a stunning save to deny Brennan Johnson’s long-range effort, tipping it over the bar.
In the 67th minute, Aaron Morley replaced Conor Grant, in Dale’s first change of the game.
Dale had been excellent throughout, and despite the set-back of Lincoln drawing level so soon after Humphrys had been denied a penalty, they continued in search of second, and they got the goal they deserved in the 74th minute, with the Rochdale forward putting his side back in front.
A ball forward was headed into Humphrys’ path and after driving forward, he saw his deflected effort go in off the post.
After the goal, O’Connell headed over from Shaughnessy’s long throw, while Johnson curled a free-kick over the bar from just outside the area.
A second Dale substitution followed in the 90th minute, as Dooley made his return from injury, replacing Done for the remaining few minutes.
FT | LINCOLN CITY 1-2 ROCHDALE