Barnsley’s three-match unbeaten Sky Bet League one was well and truly undone at Rochdale as the hosts cruised to a convincing victory.
The Reds were lacklustre almost throughout, leaving former boss Keith Hill’s men to profit handsomely as their defence was rarely troubled.
Barnsley produced an awful first-half performance at Spotland as Rochdale fully deserved to be two goals in front at the interval.
The Reds got off to a dreadful start when they conceded after only eight minutes.
Donal McDermott flicked the ball into Calvin Andrew’s path, and the well-travelled front-man fired home clinically from 20 yards.
Reds’ ‘keeper Adam Davies got his hand to the effort, but it positively flew into the net.
The visitors’ only decent effort in the first period came after 33 minutes when Kadeem Harris, making his first start for the Reds, curled an effort inches wide after a mazy run into the box.
A simple setpiece handed Rochdale a two-goal lead in the 36th minute when Peter Vincenti planted home a header from McDermott’s in-swinging corner kick.
Despite bringing Sam Winnall and Dan Crowley on at the interval, the Reds’ prospects fared little better in the second period.
They fell three behind in the 63rd minute when Ian Henderson superbly clipped a shot past Davies after latching on to Jamie Allen’s through-ball.
Ben Pearson’s late strike from distance forced Josh Lillis into a smart one-handed stop, but that was a rare highlight as Rochdale continued to press for more goals.
Andrew forced Davies into another splendid stop from close range on what proved to be a truly miserable afternoon for Lee Johnson’s weary-looking men.
Rochdale: (4-1-4-1): Lillis, Rafferty, McNulty, Lancashire, Kennedy, Allen, Henderson, McDermott (Noble-Lazarus 84), Cannon, Vincenti (Bunney 75), Andrew.
Subs not used: Eastham, Alessandra, Collis, Rose, Camps.
Barnsley: (4-4-2): Davies, Wabara, Roberts, Mawson, Nyatanga (Smith 65), Harris, Pearson, Hourihane, Rothwell (Crowley 46), Wilkinson (Winnall 46), Watkins.
Subs not used: Walton, Scowen, Maris, Digby.