ACCRINGTON Stanley's were beaten 1-0 by Rochdale in a huge night at the bottom of League One at the Wham Stadium.

Midfielder Oliver Rathbone smashed home the only goal of the game midway through the second half, as that win lifted Dale out of the relegation zone.

John Coleman's men still sit two points above the bottom four, with another crucial game coming on Saturday against Walsall.

The first half was very cagey between the two sides - which was to be expected as both teams new the significance that was placed on this tie.

Dimitar Evtimov proved why he is between sticks for Stanley as Ryan McLaughlin drove first time towards goal.

The strike took a deflection and the Bulgarian produced a brilliant, one handed save.

Stanley's first big chance came as Jordan Clark beat the Rochdale defence for pace, but Josh Lillis forced the winger wide of the box and he was unable to wrap his left foot around the put his side in the lead.

The Reds controlled the majority of the play in the first half, without creating many chances - Rochdale looked comfortable in their defensive work.

Rochdale flew out of the blocks for the second half, Evtimov punched clear a corner to the edge of the box - Oliver Rathbone ran on to the loose ball and fired over the bar.

Dale then came forward again, the ball was played across the box and Ian Henderson stepped over it to allow Kgosi Ntlhe the chance to fire towards goal.

The left backs effort was just wide of the near post.

Both sides found it difficult to create chances, in what was a very evenly fought match.

On the hour mark, a big chance fell to Stanley's Luke Armstrong who was found by Clark on the overlap.

The striker cut inside on his left foot, but Lillas got down to save well to his right.

Brian Barry-Murphy's side took the lead with 20 minutes remaining as Rathbone smashed a rising shot past Evtimov.

The ball was put on a plate for the number 14 to hit first time.

Minutes later, Stanley almost pulled level after a corner was hooked off the line by a Rochdale defender.

With 10 minutes to play, Ross Sykes rose highest from a corner and his header was just wide of the post - should have one better with that one.

Stanley pushed forward late in the second half, but were unable to create an opening.

Stanley: Evtimov, Hughes, Donacien, Clark, Brown (68' Finley), McConville, Sykes, Barlaser, Conneely, Kee (63' Smyth), Armstrong

Unused subs: Maxted, Johnson, Richards-Everton, Zanzala, Sousa

Rochdale: Lillis, McLaughlin, Ntlhr, McNulty, Ebanks-Landell, Camps, Keohane (45' Hamilton), Rathbone, Done, Wilbraham (78' Bunney), Henderson (89' Williams)

Unused subs: Wade, Dooley, Inman, Clough, Hamilton