Carl Piergianni 41
Captain uses his head but Stevenage make win over Rochdale harder than it should have been
- Credit: JAMES MANNING/PA
Carl Pergianni bagged his first goal for the club but Stevenage made hard work of a fourth League Two game without defeat.
The skipper's header came in the first half and for 70 minutes they were totally dominant against a Dale side who had come in the game bottom of the league.
But despite some nervy moments late on, they hung on to claim a 1-0 win ad move fourth in the table with three wins and a draw to their name.
Steve Evans made five changes from the side that grabbed a late equaliser at Walsall, goalscoring hero Danny Rose one of them and former Hitchin Town star Kane Smith another, making his first league start.
Max Clark, Jordon Roberts and Arthur Read completed those coming in while Luther James-Wildin, Jake Taylor, Michael Bostwick, Jamie Reid and Saxon Earley all dropped to the bench.
The changes certainly didn't hurt the home side, it perhaps made them even more attacking, and they went for the visitors from the off.
Smith and Rose were the two who were looking the more likely to open the scoring n the early going, the former putting in two excellent crosses from the right that would have been buried by the in-form Rose if not for the attentions of Ben Nelson.
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Piergianni nodded onto the roof of the net from a corner and there were chances in the space of two minutes.
Read put the first over, Luke Norris headed straight at Richard O'Donnell and then the latter should have done better when found brilliantly by Dan Sweeney, the first touch not good enough and the ball ran loose.
Roberts tested the keeper from distance with a low shot that the keeper had to hang on to, Rose sniffing for any rebound.
But the goal was always coming and the passage of play that came just before it was superb from all concerned.
Norris played a lovely reverse flick over his head and those of the two defenders near him, the ball landing at the feet of Roberts.
He hit it first time from just inside the box and kept it low, making the reflex save from O'Donnell, low to his left, just as impressive.
But from the corner, delivered from the right, the ball found the head of Piergianni and while there was pace on neither the ball in nor the header, it was placed perfectly.
The only frustration for Boro was it had took so long in coming and had not been accompanied by any others but they would have headed back to the dressing room hugely content.
Rochdale had created nothing and their fans let them no it was not appreciated with a smattering of boos at half-time.
If they heeded the views of their support it was unclear. They did have a few forays forward but there was nothing for Taye Ashby-Hammond to do.
In fact the best chance in the opening 10 minutes of the second period came the way of Rose, his header from a Clark cross was a long way out but wasn't far wide.
The one bright spot for Rochdale was Nelson and the centre-half with the defender making a superb block to deny Rose again who had been set up by Norris's superb tackle and shot.
Boro thought they had given themselves daylight when Rose headed a corner over the head of O'Donnell and in.
He was off to the corner to celebrate as were most others before they realised it had been disallowed, presumably for a foul on the keeper.
But for the next five minutes it was all Boro and the Lamex was rocking.
But with 20 minutes to go the tide seemed to be turning, just as some strange liquid fell from the skies.
Dale suddenly had shot with forced Ashby-Hammond to push it away for a corner and then Devante Rodney nodded the resultant corner wide.
It was completely out of keeping with the rest of the game but it just subdued the noise on the terraces and raised the tension ever so slightly.
Suddenly passes were gong astray and play was at the wrong end so a double sub was made by Evans in the hopes of plugging the holes.
It did and thankfully this time there was no late goal to worry about.
Stevenage: Ashby-Hammond, Clark, Reeves (Bostwick 90+1), Piergianni, Sweeney, Norris (Reid 90+1), Roberts (Campbell 75), Smith (James-Wildin 86), Vancooten, Read (Taylor 75), Rose.
Subs (not used): Chapman, Earley.
Goal: Piergianni 41
Booked: Roberts 35
Rochdale: O'Donnell, Seriki (Graham 90+5), Ebanks-Landell, Ball (Kelly 72), Rodney, Odoh, Nelson, Diagouraga, Tulloch (Sinclair 56), John, Henderson.
Subs (not used): Slicker, White, McNulty, Brierley.
Booked: Ball 66, Seriki 81
HT: Stevenage 1 Rochdale 0
Referee: Tom Reeves (Coventry)
Attendance: 2,720 (170 from Rochdale)