Nat and Ash punch lights out of Shakers
KEITH Hill’s Rochdale floored battle-weary Bury on derby day as two sucker-punches from Nathaniel Mendez-Laing shook the Shakers before Ashley Eastham knocked them flat out.
Rochdale took control from the off, leaving Hill to hail Dale’s “magnificent” performance as they created numerous chances in a thoroughly dominant display.
But final-whistle boos from shell-shocked Bury supporters underlined their discontent as Dave Flitcroft’s men came a distant second in their own bid to land a telling blow at the expense of their rampant neighbours.
“We never let go,” Hill said. “We performed superbly in the first-half and managed the game tremendously – the points were never in doubt after that.
“We got another goal and I don’t think anyone can complain about the result. The front players were magnificent at times but we have to maintain that standard of performance.
“You can’t show disrespect by taking your foot off the gas, you have to put your opponent on the canvas and keep them there.We’ve reached 51 points now and I’m really looking forward to seeing how far we can go in the remaining games of the season.”
Rochdale drew first blood when Ian Henderson’s blocked shot fell to Mendez-Laing who found the bottom corner 11 minutes in.
A shocking defensive mix-up cost Bury a second goal with Mendez-Laing profiting once more, as the Shakers crumbled six minutes later. Ryan Lowe’s effort deflected wide on 29 minutes for Bury but Donal McDermott stung Ian Lawlor’s palms at the other end when he was allowed space on edge of the box.
Bury had Lawlor to thank again when Peter Clarke almost turned the ball into his own net just before the break. And Henderson hit the post as Rochdale reasserted control after half-time before Eastham climbed highest to meet Michael Rose’s 53rdminute corner and score his side’s third.
Josh Lillis denied Bury substitute Shaun Clare before Craig Jones called him into action once more on 73 minutes but neither player could inspire a comeback.
Flitcroft said:“It was a difficult week preparation-wise and it caught up with us.We have been struggling with injuries and we put out a patchwork team. It didn’t look or feel right and when Ryan Lowe came off after 15 minutes we looked really lightweight.
“We lacked the punch and power we normally have and we really need to regroup. We need to get the right players in but we’ve not had any success.”
STAR MAN NATHAN MENDE IEL