TEN-MAN Chester crashed to an embarrassing defeat at Spotland tonight as rampant Rochdale ran riot.
The hosts scored six and could have had many more as City failed dismally to cope with the first-half dismissal of Glenn Rule.
Chris Dagnall was the Blues’ chief tormentor, scoring a hat-trick on a rotten night for the men from the Deva Stadium.
Boss Simon Davies made two changes to the side beaten by Port Vale on Sunday. The injured Shaun Kelly was replaced by James Vaughan and Stephen Vaughan was preferred to Anthony Barry in midfield.
Davies had warned his players not to start as slowly as they had done two days earlier against Vale. But the Blues did not heed their manager’s words and found themselves a goal down after just 14 minutes.
Chester’s defence made the mistake of backing off Dagnall as he charged forward, allowing the little striker the time and space to pick his spot with a curling right-footed shot into the far corner from 18 yards.
Seven minutes later, Rochdale defender Rory McArdle headed just over from Tom Kennedy’s right-wing free-kick.
City’s chances of getting back into the game were dealt a major blow on 28 minutes when they were reduced to 10 men. Teenage defender Rule was shown a straight red card by referee Mark Haywood for a late challenge on Joe Thompson. It looked a harsh decision, with a yellow card the most appropriate punishment for a tackle that was more mistimed than malicious.
Just four minutes later, Dale doubled their lead through that man Dagnall. The prolific forward collected a neat reverse pass from Thompson, turned his man and sent a low left-footed shot beyond keeper John Danby’s despairing dive.
Chester had to wait until the second minute of injury time until they tested home keeper Sam Russell. Kevin Ellison surprised Russell with a fizzing first-time shot from the edge of the box, but saw the ball pushed around the post for a corner.
Russell was then called upon to tip over Ryan Lowe’s 20-yard free-kick as City tried in vain to pull a goal back before half time.
The visitors had to wait only eight minutes of the second half before they pulled a goal back. There was some confusion as to who got the final touch on the ball but it definitely appeared to be a Dale defender after Lowe had whipped a dangerous free-kick into the area.
Dale, however, were quick to restore their two-goal advantage. Inevitably, it was the predatory Dagnall who made it 3-1, completing his hat-trick with a first-time shot from a right-wing cross on the hour.
Chester were rocking and they shipped a fourth goal on 63 minutes when Lee Thorpe nodded home a left-wing cross.
It was all becoming too easy for the hosts and they took the score to 6-1 with two goals inside a minute.
Sub Adam Le Fondre got them both, his first coming after Kennedy’s ball in from the left. Chester’s overexposed defence was nowhere to be seen.
Having bagged his first of the night on 69 minutes, he got his second on 70 from close range after City’s left flank was ripped to shreds.
Thankfully for Chester, that was the final goal of the night – but Dale could have had many more as they poured forward at will and hit the woodwork twice.
Rochdale: Russell, Wiseman, Kennedy, Stanton, McArdle, Buckley, Jones (Keltie 88), Toner, Thompson, Dagnall (Le Fondre 65), Thorpe (Rundle 77). Subs: Holness, Spencer.
Chester: Danby, J Vaughan, Linwood, Roberts, Rule, Hughes, S Vaughan, Mozika, Lowe, Johnson (Barry 76), Ellison. Subs: Harris, Taylor, McManus, Rutherford. Sent off: Rule.
Referee: Mark Haywood (West Yorkshire).