IT WAS never going to be a classic as the bottom two clashed at Dark Lane, but Rossendale edged the match to claim three vital points to aid their push up the table.

But they couldn't have got off to a worse start. Player-manager Mark Molyneaux had already made a superb save from Craig Holland before Andy Bourne was allowed a free header from a corner to open the scoring after just four minutes.

Paul McMahon rattled the crossbar before Dale levelled with a bizarre goal on their first attack. Jamie Baguley whipped in a cross from the left, Rocester defender Carl Allen crashed a header against his own bar and the ball hit keeper Elliott Richards on the back of his head before going into the net.

Spurred on by their stroke of luck, Dale pressed forward and took the lead 32 minutes. Neat work on the left between Stuart Tulloch and Chris Jones played in Stuart Cartridge and he thumped the ball past Richards at the near post.

As half-time approached, Molyneaux produced another good save to keep out Bourne's volley, while Rossendale's Ian Barker hit the post.

The impressive Baguley was again Dale's main threat and he went close to doubling the lead with an excellent volley on the turn before having another effort scrambled clear by the shaky Rocester defence.

It was the visitors' turn to have a touch of good fortune when Jordan Rispin headed into his own net from a corner on 62 minutes to level the scores.

It looked like the point would be shared until the final minute. Chris Brooks picked the ball up on the edge of the area and his deflected effort flew past Richards to give Dale a vital winner.