Rochdale produced a superb display to emphatically end Plymouth Argyle’s unbeaten home record on Tuesday night.
Home Park has not been a happy hunting ground for the Dale in recent years, with their last triumph coming in 2011 thanks to a solitary Gary Jones goal.
However, Brian Barry-Murphy’s side showed no fear in the early stages, with Stephen Humphrys seeing a shot inside the box blocked within the first 60 seconds, although he perhaps should have laid the ball off to Ollie Rathbone.
It wouldn’t take long for the away side to take the lead, however, with Jake Beesley breaking the offside trap thanks to a through ball from his strike partner Humphrys and after rounding Plymouth ‘keeper Michael Cooper, he finished well from a tight angle.
Unfortunately for the summer signing, that would be his only contribution on the night, as just a couple of minutes later a nasty collision saw him stretchered off the pitch, on what was the only blemish on a near-perfect night for the Dale.
After a 20 minute break, while Beesley was treated, play resumed and Plymouth came very close to finding an equaliser through Luke Jephcott as his effort came back off the post, before Matty Lund was well placed to stop George Cooper’s follow-up on the line.
Rochdale established a two-goal lead not long after through a superb Aaron Morley strike. The Pilgrims failed to clear their lines after not playing to the whistle and Humphrys did well to keep the ball alive, finding Ollie Rathbone, who’s tee-up was met by a piledriver from Morley which found the top corner.
Suddenly, Ryan Lowe’s side looked in real danger of losing their unbeaten home run and against a side that were winless in their last seven games in all competitions.
Dale continued to push forward, however, and nearly found a third when Jimmy Keohane volleyed over from Morley’s corner but the Irishman wasn’t going to be denied for long.
As the game moved into the 12th of 19 minutes on, Dale found space down the right-hand side through Alex Newby, who after cutting inside saw a left-footed shot blocked.
The ball fell to Stephen Dooley, who had replaced Beesley after his injury, and his looped cross looked to be the end of the danger for the home side, but it was met by a weak header from Keohane which somehow trickled into the net after a mix-up in the home side’s defence which frankly, left me in hysterics.
Dale didn’t stop there though and nearly had a fourth before half-time, with Dooley’s header drifting just wide of the post.
Half Time: Plymouth Argyle 0-3 Rochdale
Lowe made three changes at the break to try and stem Dale’s dominance but the home side were unable to make their sustained pressure in the first 15 minutes of the second period tell, with Haydon Roberts once again showing his quality by emerging from the penalty box with the ball on a number of occasions during the 90 minutes.
It’s early days for the on-loan Brighton man in his career but personally, without wanting to put too much pressure on the 18-year-old, I think he’s better than prime Paolo Maldini.
Dale were on the back foot for a lot of the second half, with the home side testing Barry-Murphy’s side with long balls into the box, which were more than often met by the head of Dale captain Eoghan O’Connell, who once again produced a superb display.
However, it was the Greater Manchester side who carved out the first real opportunity of the second period, with a superb one-two between Lund and Alex Newby putting the former Chorley man through on goal but he shot across the goal instead of cutting it back for Humphrys.
The striker would not have to wait too much longer to get the goal his performance deserved though, as he rounded off an excellent display by scoring Dale’s fourth in the 72nd minute.
Keohane did well to win the ball back high up the pitch and the ball was worked to Dooley on the right-hand side of the box, with his cross met by Humphrys who glanced home his second goal in consecutive games.
The home side had two late chances through Pereira Camará, noticeably when substitute Jimmy Ryan gifted him possession on the edge of the box with not long remaining, but his curled effort was well over Jay Lynch’s crossbar.
It would finish 4-0 to the Dale in what was undoubtedly their most impressive display of the season so far, whilst the Pilgrims slip to their third successive league defeat.
Full Time: Plymouth Argyle 0-4 Rochdale
Man of the Match: Stephen Humphrys