Rochdale recorded a comprehensive 4-1 win over Sutton United in their final home game of the 2022/23 season.
A Devante Rodney double and goals from Ethan Brierley and Jimmy Keohane secured the victory at the Crown Oil Arena.
Rodney opened the scoring after just eight minutes, while Brierley doubled Dale’s advantage with 25 minutes played. The visitors, against the run of play, halved the deficit before the half-time through Enzio Boldewijn. After the break, Keohane netted Dale’s third, while a fourth came six minutes later, as Rodney netted his second of the afternoon.
There were three changes to the side that lined up against Stockport County last weekend. Sam Graham, Tyrese Sinclair and Devante Rodney came in for Max Taylor, Abraham Odoh and Danny Lloyd.
Rochdale started the game brightly and opened the scoring after just eight minutes, when Rodney finished off a fine Dale move. Ian Henderson and Liam Kelly combined to get the side up the pitch, before Henderson slid the ball through to Rodney, who took a touch and calmly finished beyond Brad House from inside the area.
Dale were in again soon after, thanks to more excellent play. Sinclair drove at goal and found Kelly, who clipped a ball to the back post, where Rodney was just inches away from getting a decisive touch to turn the ball goal wards.
Richard O’Donnell then sent a ball over the top for D’Mani Mellor to run onto. The forward got a shot away while under pressure on the edge of the area, but he agonisingly struck narrowly wide of the target.
Rochdale continued on the ascendancy and Brierley doubled Dale’s advantage in the 25th minute. It was another great move forward, as they hit Sutton on the break from a corner. Rodney drove over the halfway line and found Kelly, who superbly picked out Brierley inside the area. The midfielder took a touch before neatly clipping the ball over the ‘keeper.
The Us were reduced to ten men just before the half hour mark, when goalkeeper House received a straight red card for coming out of his area and clattering into Sinclair, upending him. From the resulting free-kick, substitute Jack Rose was called into action immediately, as he beat away Owen Dodgson’s set-piece which looked destined for the far bottom corner.
Against the run of play, Boldewijn halved the deficit with 38 minutes on the clock, when he latched onto a low ball in from the left and finished from close range.
Despite the visitors pulling a goal back, Rochdale continued on top and went into the break 2-1 to the good, and they added to their tally with two more goals early in the second half.
Dale netted a third, five minutes after the interval, when a corner, which was played short, was whipped to the back post and headed home by Keohane.
A fourth goal came six minutes later. Rodney latched on to a ball over the top, having timed his run to perfection to beat the offside trap, and he had time to pick his spot before firing beyond Rose to net his second of the afternoon.
It had been all Rochdale in the second half and the Us were forced to defend again as they put in last ditch clearance to see behind Graham’s dangerous low delivery across the face of goal, just a yard from the line.
Again, Dale came forward, and after Sinclair and Keohane linked up, the former went for goal, but struck wide of the upright.
Rochdale’s first change of the game followed in the 69th minute, with Sinclair making way for Odoh.
Soon after, Rodney was denied by Rose, who beat away his fierce strike from the edge of the area.
Dale were in again moments later through Henderson who closed down a back pass to the ‘keeper, and, under pressure, Rose cleared the ball against the Dale forward, sending it behind for a goal-kick.
Rodney then saw a powerful effort deflected wide, although the referee awarded a goal-kick.
A second substitution came in the 82nd minute, as Lloyd replaced Henderson, and he was involved soon after as he provided a low cross for fellow substitute Odoh, who struck over the bar.
Brierley then saw an effort from 25-yards deflected over the bar.
Late on, first year scholar George Nevett made his professional debut, replacing Dodgson, while James Ball came on for Man of the Match Brierley.
And Dale comfortably saw the game out to record a 4-1 win.