Rochdale 1 Wigan Athletic 4

A four-star display from Wigan Athletic - including goals from Dan Burn, James Vaughan, Michael Jacobs and Will Grigg - saw Paul Cook's men reclaim leadership of League One on goal difference from Blackburn, with in-form Rochdale simply brushed aside.

Tuesday, 10th April 2018, 10:49 pm
Updated Tuesday, 10th April 2018, 11:56 pm
James Vaughan celebrates scoring the second goal at Rochdale

Rochdale had only been defeated once in their previous nine matches - 1-0 at the DW Stadium back in February.

But they were no match for a Latics side in utterly rampant mood.

Although they lead by only a single goal at the break, Latics always had a couple of extra gears to find as and when required.

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And a further three goals in the space of eight minutes around the hour mark put the home side out of their misery.

Steven Davies’ penalty with three minutes left was scant consolation for a Dale side already in damage-limitation mode.

And the cheers from the away end that greeted the full-time whistle were only exacerbated with news of Blackburn dropping two points at Gillingham - sending Latics to the top of the table with only six matches to play.

Right from the off, Latics were on it as they looked to take advantage of their final game in hand over third-placed Shrewsbury.

They were ahead inside 17 minutes, with Max Power’s corner being headed back into the danger zone by Chey Dunkley and nodded home by his centre-back colleague Burn.

It was almost 2-0 moments later, when Nick Powell set his sights from 25 yards only to see the ball hit the inside of the far post - although the offside flag was up in any case.

In the blink of an eye, Rochdale very nearly took full advantage of the let-off with an equalising goal from a corner.

Defender Joe Rafferty’s flick header looped teasingly towards the far post, only to kiss the bar on its way out.

But it was only a brief moment of alarm for Latics, whose dominance was shown with Nathan Byrne playing as an extra winger for most of the first half.

Once the right-back was invited to the edge of the box before he decided to shoot, and Dale goalkeeper Josh Lillis did superbly to tip the ball over for a corner.

Latics suffered a blow on the stroke of half-time when Powell limped off the field and went straight down the tunnel, with what appeared to be a thigh problem.

Despite there being only seconds of the first half to go, the concern on the Latics bench was shown by the decision to send Vaughan straight on rather than assess Powell during the interval.

If Rochdale were encouraged by the sight of Powell’s exit, all that was extinguished with minutes of the restart.

First, a lovely lay-off by Grigg released Vaughan to fire under Lillis on 54 minutes.

Then, on the hour mark, Jacobs turned his man inside out, and then inside out again, before smashing a glorious effort in from 20 yards.

Two minutes later, it was 4-0 as Lillis could only parry Gavin Massey’s shot out into the path of Grigg, who slotted home from eight yards - for his 24th goal of the season.

From then on it was a matter of how many Latics wanted to score, balanced with the desire to rest players for bigger challenges ahead.

Jamie Walker and Gary Roberts took over from Massey and Grigg, which increased the hosts’ hope of a consolation.

That duly arrived on 87 minutes, when Dunkley was adjudged to have tripped Calvin Andrew in the box, which allowed Davies to spoil Christian Walton’s hopes of yet another clean sheet.