The Youth Team returned to winning ways with a narrow 1-0 victory in an action packed morning at Stockport County.
Isaac Burgess’ second-half header secured Dale’s first league win since a commanding performance over Port Vale in August.
Oscar Kelly was the first man to threaten the Stockport backline, when his burst down the left five minutes in provided an opportunity to cross for Darren Ehimamiegho, but the delivery drifted just over the forward’s head.
Corey Edwards’ corner turned into an attempt a couple minutes later as it came back off the Stockport crossbar and over.
Stockport grew into the game and their number nine will be wondering how he didn’t come away from the match with a goal to his tally. Firstly, he was picked out superbly from the right, but his free header didn’t generate enough power to beat Lennon MacLorg.
Two minutes later he tried a diving header, and with everyone in a Dale shirt waiting with bated breath, the effort trickled past the post.
The flurry of chances continued as Edwards’ free-kick was moving towards goal, which meant the Stockport ‘keeper parried into the path of Dos Santos. However, the Dale midfielder played it straight back into the goalkeepers’ arms with the goal gaping.
On 26 minutes, MacLorg produced a fabulous save to deny the County striker. He took the powerful shot on early, and the Dale number one had to reach out to tip over the bar and away from danger.
12 minutes before half-time, Dale’s second gilt-edged chance fell to Kelly. Matteus Mane brought it down well under pressure and thought fast to chip it to the back post, where Kelly sent the close-range header over.
The second 45 minutes continued in a similar vein to the first, as Dale broke the deadlock just three minutes after the restart.
A set-piece routine was played short to Kelly, who’s inch-perfect cross was met by Burgess. His header gave the goalkeeper no chance to his left hand side and Dale led.
Seven minutes later, MacLorg had to have his wits about him as he came racing out of his goal, with a Stockport man clean through on goal. However, the Dale shot stopper stood big and prevented an equaliser.
The chances did start to dissipate in the latter stages of the game, although Kelly could have doubled Dale’s advantage as he was picked out by Mane, but the left winger’s low effort hit the side netting.
Dale certainly did enough to get that two-goal buffer. This time goalscorer on Monday at Daisy Hill, Lucas Bispo Martinez, was set up by Kelly, but the attacker just couldn’t set himself right and the shot was easily saved.
County rarely looked like getting a leveller and remain pointless as Dale secured all three points at Carrington, climbing to ninth in the EFL Youth Alliance League North West table.
Attentions now turn to next Saturday when Carlisle United make the journey to Platt Lane, with kick-off at 11am.
Dale XI | MacLorg, Dunlop, Burgess, Edghill, Horne, Edwards, Dos Santos, Bispo Martinez, Mane, Ehimamiegho, Kelly.
Subs | Nicholson, Akpan, Mann, Clift.
Report by Joe Heaton.