Rochdale’s 2020/21 campaign ended with three points, as Dale recorded a resounding 3-0 win over MK Dons on the final day of the season.
Second half goals from Aaron Morley, Jimmy Keohane and Stephen Humphrys ensured Dale bowed out of League One with victory at Stadium:mk.
Morley put Dale ahead two minutes into the second half with a brilliant free-kick that found the top corner, before Keohane doubled the advantage three minutes later. Substitute Humphrys rounded off the scoring with five minutes left to play.
There were two changes to the side that lined up against Doncaster Rovers last weekend, as Jimmy McNulty and Stephen Dooley came in for Ryan McLaughlin and Matthew Lund. There was a place on the bench for Jimmy Ryan, who made his return from injury.
The home side struck first, as they were denied by the woodwork five minutes into the game. Matthew Sorinola curled his free-kick from the edge of the area towards the top corner and saw his effort come crashing off the cross bar.
Soon after, up the other end, Keohane played Jake Beesley into the box with a super through ball, but despite rounding Andrew Fisher in the MK Dons net, the goalkeeper pushed him too wide and the Dale forward could only finish into the side netting from an acute angle.
Jay Lynch then pulled off a good reaction save with his feet to keep out Andrew Surman from close range.
Rochdale had a couple of opportunities either side of the half hour, but Fisher was equal to them.
Matty Done won the ball high up the pitch before charging forward into the box and pulling the ball back for Stephen Dooley, who saw the goalkeeper get down to push away his low shot. Fisher then held Beesley’s looping header, from Eoghan O’Connell’s cross.
A short time later, Beesley closed down the ‘keeper’s clearance and, as it rebounded off Fisher’s back, the ball fell kindly for Ollie Rathbone who struck a speculative volley towards the unguarded net, but his effort from range went over the bar.
It was an evenly matched first half, with both sides carving out opportunities, and short-time later, the hosts’ Harry Darling nodded Sorinola’s corner narrowly wide of the upright.
HT | MK DONS 0-0 ROCHDALE
Rochdale started the second half brightly and were two goals up in the opening five minutes, as Dale scored twice in three minutes.
Morley put Dale ahead two minutes after the restart, as he curled a free-kick from the edge of the area into the top corner at the near post.
Rochdale came close to a second goal, sixty seconds later. After Dooley had broken down the right, he pulled the ball back for Beesley who turned his effort from close range inches wide of the upright.
Dale went on to double their advantage a couple of minutes later. Keohane’s defected strike wrong footed Fisher and he found the back of the net from the edge of the 18-yard box to score his tenth of the season.
Rochdale were in again moments later. Beesley won the ball to play in Grant who in turn found Dooley. He backheeled to Keohane, whose curling effort, which looked goal bound, took a deflection, taking it over the bar.
Soon after the hour, Conor Grant deserved to put Dale 3-0 up, but he struck wide of the post. The Irishman did brilliantly to turn his man on the halfway line before finding Done. After getting into the area to receive the ball back off Done, he dummied past his marker with ease but poked into the side netting.
He was in again moments later after Morley played the ball out to him on the left. He shot through the legs of Dean Lewington, only to have his shot held at the near post by Fisher.
Beesley had the ball in the back of the net on 70 minutes, but his ‘goal’ was ruled out for offside.
Rathbone then attempted the spectacular from inside his own half having spotted Fisher off his line, but his audacious effort dropped just over the bar.
A double Dale substitution followed, as Rathbone and Grant made way for Abraham Odoh and Alex Newby. A short time later, Stephen Humphrys replaced Beesley.
Lewington came close to halving the deficit from a free-kick, with the home side’s first opportunity of the half, as he struck it inches past the post.
Substitute Humphrys dragged an effort wide of the upright before going onto to net Rochdale’s third of the afternoon in the 85th minute. He dinked the ball past an advancing Fisher, after being played in by Odoh.
Two further changes came with three minutes left to play. Ryan, who had been sidelined through injury since December, made his long-awaited return, replacing Morley, while Dooley made for Ethan Brierley.
FT | MK DONS 0-3 ROCHDALE
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