Aaron Morley struck deep in stoppage time to earn Rochdale three deserved points at home to Sutton United on Saturday, as Dale recorded a 3-2 win in the first ever meeting between the two sides.
Dale had gone 2-0 up against the 10 men Us, only for the visitors to score two late goals to equalise. But Morley’s 94th minute strike secured the points at the Crown Oil Arena.
There were two changes to the side that lined up against Salford City midweek, as Jim McNulty and Aaron Morley came in for Jeriel Dorsett and George Broadbent, respectively.
Early on, Abraham Odoh worked tirelessly inside the 18-yard box to keep a move alive before laying the ball off to Morley who fired wide first time.
Soon after, there was a superb save from Dean Bouzanis to deny Jake Beesley’s stooping header. The Sutton United goalkeeper got down to his right to pluck away the effort on the line as it looked set to nestle in the bottom corner.
Sam Graham then stabbed Morley’s corner wide of the far post.
Captain Eoghan O’Connell sent a speculative effort at goal from 30-yards, but bent it wide, before Odoh’s curling shot looked certain for the far corner, only for a visiting defender to get a touch on it, to divert it away from the target.
Meanwhile, in a rare moment in front of goal, the Us’ Will Randall fired well over from just inside the area.
But Dale’s deserved opener came in the 23rd minute in brilliant fashion. Liam Kelly arrowed a diagonal ball over the defence into the path of Newby, who lifted the ball over the Bouzanis and into the back of the net.
Three minutes after the goal, Sutton broke away and Randall got a shot off, but Joel Coleman was equal to it, getting down low to hold.
Dale were in again soon after, though, and Newby saw his dangerous shot from the edge of the area deflected up and over the bar. Beesley then had an effort deflected wide, before O’Connell struck past the post from the edge of the 18-yard box.
In stoppage time, Coleman held Richie Bennet’s header from a Joe Kizzi cross.
A minute later, the Us were reduced to ten men when Bennett was shown a straight red card for an apparent stamps on Beesley’s midriff.
And with the last action of the half, Graham headed over Newby’s right-field cross.
HT | ROCHDALE 1-0 SUTTON UNITED
Rochdale continued to dominate the second half as they had the first, and they turned the screw as the period progressed.
Three minutes after the restart Kelly played in Newby who cut inside and found Odoh, who fired over from 12-yards.
The visitors’ Donovan Williams, on the break, then struck an effort inches wide of Coleman’s upright.
In the 53rd minute, Newby agonisingly had a goal ruled out for offside, after he superbly volleyed home Kelly’s clip over the top from a free-kick.
After a good, sweeping move forward, Newby laid the ball off to Beesley, who saw his first time strike kept out by Bouzanis, who held the effort.
Newby then had a shot deflected wide, before Dale’s deserved second came in the 66th minute. Morley had picked out O'Keeffe on the right and he headed back into the middle, where Kelly struck first time into the bottom corner.
Rochdale’s first substitution of the game followed after the goal, with Cashman replacing Odoh.
And moments later Beesley was denied on the line. After Newby had chased down a through ball, he cut back into the area from the byline and Beesley, who got ahead of his marker, saw his poke turned away.
Two further changes came six minutes apart, as Keohane made way for Aidy White, and Conor Grant came on for Newby.
In between the substitutions, Dale had continued on the ascendancy, with Cashman seeing a shot saved by the legs of Bouzanis from a tight angle, while Beesley turned Kelly’s corner wide at the near post.
It looked like two late goals had earned the visitors a point, as they netted twice during the last 10 minutes.
They halved the deficit in the 82 minute when Isaac Olaofe turned home from close range after Coleman had initially saved a corner from a header. And Alistair Smith equalised for the Us eight minutes later.
But Morley struck deep in stoppage to secure a well-deserved three points. A ball into the area was cleared as far as Morley who fired into the bottom corner from 20-yards.
FT | ROCHDALE 3-2 SUTTON UNITED