Heading into their trip to the Wham Stadium, Rochdale’s players knew the consequences of what a win would do for their fight against the dreaded drop into League Two and a win is just what they got, 1-0 over Accrington Stanley.
Ollie Rathbone scored the only goal of the game to pull Dale out of the bottom four in League One for the first time in weeks, it also moved them level on points with their hosts who are in danger of dropping through the trapdoor themselves.
On a nervous Lancashire night, it was Stanley who would test Josh Lillis first as Rochdale’s keeper parried away Sean McConville’s effort.
Dale came more into the contest as the half wore on, Matty Done firing narrowly past the post before Stanley’s keeper, Dimitar Evtimov pulled off a fine save to deny Ryan McLoughlin’s deflected shot.
After halftime it was Stanley who would again start the stronger of the two sides, Luke Armstrong again bringing the best out of Lillis to keep the scoresheet blank.
With 19 minutes left and the game looking like it was heading for a draw, Rathbone decided he’d have one last say on the matter, rifling home after fine work from Aaron Wilbraham after he’d battled into the area to set up the midfielder for his sixth goal of the season.
Accrington did have one last chance to draw level but Ross Sykes saw his header go narrowly wide of the mark.
The final whistle handed the three points to Rochdale and helped them climb up to 19th in the League One table, two points clear of the bottom four with five games left to play.
Next up for Dale is a tricky trip to promotion chasing Portsmouth on Saturday (13th April).