Lincoln City ran out comfortable winners against Rochdale at the Crown Oil Arena, thanks to goals from James Jones and Lewis Montsma.
The Imps were rarely threatened by a Dale side who were unable to build on their impressive 4-0 win against Plymouth Argyle in midweek and were well-deserving of the three points.
It was the home side who started the stronger of the two sides, however, with Brian Barry-Murphy’s side looking positive early on, as they were clearly buoyed by the midweek win, despite Jake Beesley missing out on the game due to the head injury he picked up against the Pilgrims.
The first notable moment of the game came 13 minutes in when a great cross-field ball from Aaron Morley found Ryan McLaughlin and his cross was blocked by the hand of Lincoln City defender Tayo Edun, but referee Sam Allison ruled that it happened just outside the box.
Dale came relatively close to an opener 15 minutes later, as another excellent pass from Morley found Stephen Humphrys but the striker’s shot was deflected over the crossbar.
Michael Appleton’s side grew into the game however and had their first opportunity just after the half-hour mark, as patient play resulted in Tom Hopper receiving the ball on the edge of the area but his shot was deflected just wide.
It wouldn’t take much longer for the Imps to grab the lead though, as an awful throw-in from McLaughlin gifted the visitors possession in the Dale half, before a superb through ball from Jorge Grant, one of the best players in League One so far this season, found Edun on the left-hand side.
The 22-year-old’s cut-back found Jones, who placed the ball past Jay Lynch in the Dale goal with a composed left-footed finish, in what was his first goal for the club since joining from Crewe during the summer.
Half Time: Rochdale 0:1 Lincoln City
The second half saw the away side push forward in search of a second goal, as they looked to kill the game off. Their first chance of note came through Nottingham Forest loanee Brennan Johnson, as after a sustained spell of pressure, he curled a shot towards Lynch’s goal but it was comfortably saved.
Unfortunately for Dale, much of their attacking impetus was lost shortly before the hour mark, as Ollie Rathbone picked up an injury and was replaced by Kwadwo Baah. Hopefully, for Barry-Murphy’s side, he won’t be out for too long, as we approach the busy Christmas period.
Dale had their first clear opening of note when Alex Newby’s lofted through ball found Humphrys but the striker’s volley was well saved by the legs of Alex Palmer, in what was the only shot the on-loan ‘keeper was forced to make.
Lincoln got the second goal their play deserved when Alex Montsma, who has been in prolific form for a centre-back so far this season, fired in a long-range shot which squirmed under Lynch’s body to find the net.
Although he is a solid back-up, you imagine that Gavin Bazunu would have comfortably saved it, so hopefully, it won’t be too long until he is ready to be restored to the starting line-up.
This goal sealed the three points for Appleton’s side and they were comfortable in keeping possession in the latter stages, with Montsma rarely bested in defence, in what was a frustrating afternoon for the Dale attack.
There were some signs of frustration for Dale late on, with Matty Lund perhaps fortunate not to see red, whilst Montsma saw a header blocked by Lynch to prevent him adding a third.
Whilst it was a disappointing result for Dale, Lincoln looked excellent throughout and it is no surprise that they have started the season so well when you consider their performance.
Unfortunately for Dale, it doesn’t get much easier, as next week sees them travel to Peterborough United where Barry-Murphy will certainly be looking to avoid a repeat of last season’s result, whilst Lincoln face Sunderland at home next Saturday.
Full Time: Rochdale 0-2 Lincoln City
Man of the Match: Lewis Montsma