Town back on top of the table after Rowe's winner
Danny Rowe’s second-half goal was enough to rocket Blues back to the top of the table on Bonfire Night.
Luke Garbutt’s sparkler of a drive smashed against the woodwork just before the break but soon after the restart Town fired into action with Rowe forcing the ball in from close range for his first goal for the Club.
Alan Judge banged a thumping drive that warmed Jay Lynch’s hands as Paul Lambert’s side threatened a second goal in a hectic contest throughout but Blues held on to return to pole position.
Cole Skuse recovered from a groin injury to keep up his ever present record in the league this season, with Jon Nolan and Judge coming in as the two changes from the team that beat Southend last time out.
James Norwood threatened at the back post as Town started on the front foot, ‘keeper Lynch off his line to clear as Rowe looked to get in on the opposite flank, then Judge had just a little too much on an ambitious pass over the top.
Nolan couldn’t get good contact on Gwion Edwards’ cross inside the home box, while at the other end it needed a deflection off Garbutt to take Rekeil Pyke’s strike away from Town’s goal in Dale’s first foray into Blues’ danger area.
Will Norris gathered from Eoghan O’Connell’s arrowed cross from deep as Rochdale grew into the game, Matthew Done unable to beat Norris after taking Callum Camps’ incisive pass in his stride, then Camps’ clever flick was cut out by Luke Woolfenden as Ian Henderson looked to capitalise.
Camps was carrying a threat for Dale and was first denied by Luke Chambers’ intervention, then carved out an opening for Henderson until the Town skipper spotted the danger.
Chambers threw himself in the way of another effort from Camps, Woolfenden responding for Blues with a header from a corner that was smothered away from danger, then on the stroke of half-time Garbutt rattled the bar with a thunderous strike from distance.
Rowe opened the second-half with a darting run past two defenders to force a corner and it was the wideman who gave Blues the lead on 53 minutes, forcing the ball home after Edwards’ deflected cross hadn’t been dealt with by the home defence.
Kayden Jackson was inches away from getting in on goal, O’Connell doing enough to clear when last man, Garbutt forcing Lynch into a low save with another trademark free-kick from long range, then Woolfenden was wide from close range with a header from a corner.
Jimmy Ryan replaced Aaron Morley in the game’s first change, Fabio Tavares following suit for Paul McShane, Tavares denied by Edwards as he looked to find his way into the Town box seconds after coming on.
The ever-willing Luke Matheson continued to provide an outlet for Rochdale down the right, his cross cleared by Chambers before the home side made a final change with Calvin Andrew on for Pyke.
Judge tested Lynch with a thumping drive, Henderson well off target when presented with a decent chance seconds later, Judge hitting the roof of the net with a free-kick.
Jackson could have settled it in added on time but was denied by Lynch but Rowe’s goal proved enough for the three points.
Rochdale: Lynch, O’Connell, Williams, Camps, Pyke (Andrew 77), Keohane, McShane (Tavares 70), Done, Morley (Ryan 66), Henderson, Matheson. Subs not used: McLaughlin, Andrew, Wade, Bradley, Hopper.
Town: Norris, Edwards, Woolfenden, Chambers, Garbutt, Rowe (Georgiou 81), Nolan, Skuse, Judge (Dozzell 88), Norwood (Keane 81), Jackson. Subs not used: Holy, Huws, Kenlock, Wilson. Booked: Norwood.