Port Vale 4-1 Rochdale Vale hammer Rochdale
Last Updated: 23/04/16 6:45pm
Rochdale's ambitions of reaching the play-offs were all but ended with a heavy 4-1 defeat at impressive Port Vale.
A lively start saw Dale's Donal McDermott force a fine save from Jak Alnwick at one end before Sam Foley's effort was cleared off the line by Ashley Eastham at the other.
Bu there was little else to shout about before Theo Robinson scored Vale's 6,000th league goal in the 37th minute.
JJ Hooper challenged two Rochdale defenders in the air and the ball ran into the path of Robinson, who curled a splendid right-foot finish into the top left-hand corner of Josh Lillis' net from 14 yards.
Rochdale collapsed for the remainder of the first half, with Hooper having one effort ruled out for a tight offside call and forcing a fine save from Lillis before Vale won a 45th-minute penalty.
Jimmy McNulty upended Sam Foley and Michael O'Connor drove the spot-kick low into the centre of the net as Lillis dived to his right.
Rochdale boss Keith Hill made a triple substitution at half-time but Vale added a third less than two minutes later following a calamitous back-pass by Joe Rafferty.
Hooper raced through unchallenged and placed a cool right-foot finish low inside Lillis' left-hand post.
Substitute Calvin Andrew reduced the arrears in the 51st minute when he collected a pass from Nathaniel Mendez-Laing to fire an unstoppable left-foot shot into the top right-hand corner of Alnwick's net from the right edge of the penalty area.
But a bad day for Rochdale and a dreadful one for Rafferty was complete in the 77th minute. The full-back needlessly pushed Remie Streete in the back and O'Connor made no mistake with his second penalty of the afternoon.