Questions need asking. Were the Sky cameras here? Were we genuinely playing Tonga? Was it really Plattini rather than his Rochdale namesake playing for Dale? Or was it just that twelve matches worth of frustration came out all in one go?
Dale were magnificent to the extent that the foot was taken off the pedal at half time, and we still managed to get a couple more in the second half. Almost without exception, the whole of the Dale team played well. Dave Flitcroft had one of his best games for the club, full of fire and even pace at times, Lee Todd continued to prove himself to be the best left back in the division, and Clive Platt never stopped working. But the headlines will deservedly belong to Paul Connor who grabbed the first hat trick for Dale since Andy Morris bagged one against Chester a couple of seasons back.
Connor was awesome and everyone of his three goals was superbly taken. He is looking to be an absolute bargain at £150,000 having now scored six goals in his six games for the club, and there must already be questions about how long we can hold onto him for! He was several classes above anything that Carlisle had to offer, and it was men against boys at times, but it was the boys in the form of Platt and Connor who were light years ahead of the men in the Carlisle defence.
Steve Parkin brought Connor off with over twenty minutes to go, after he scored his third goal to put Dale six up. Whether this was to give Carlisle a chance, or whether it was to give the young striker the deserved standing ovation that he got from the crowd which included some of the Carlisle supporters, who knows. But one thing is for certain. If he carries on the way he is heading at the moment, then he will be guaranteed legend status within Rochdale for the rest of his life.
Well the threatened rain managed to hold off till just before kick off, and the game went ahead without any problems. The pitch seemed to have survived the weekend's rain storms without any major problems. Hornets' battering of York on the pitch on Sunday also seemed to have done the playing surface very few problems.
There was just under three thousand at the match, which at least was a rise of four hundred or so from the previous week's game against Brighton. Out of that, came a sizeable turnout of something like eight hundred from up the M6, who sang their team on magnificently from start to finish.
Dale went into the game with just the one change from the team which started against Brighton last Tuesday. Injury hit Andy Turner had to step down, and Michael Oliver came in to take his place. Tony Ford retained his place on the right hand side, with Phil Hadland having to make do with a spot on the bench.
The opening few minutes were quite lively, and it seemed pretty obvious that Carlisle hadn't just turned up to make up the numbers and stick ten men behind the ball. In the first five minutes, they had a couple of forays into the Dale half, but did nothing to really get Edwards stressed.
After that, it was just one way traffic for the rest of the first half, as Dale plundered the goal at the WMG side of the ground. By the end of the first half, Dale had made it four, but it could have been more than that as Paul Connor who tore the Cumbrians' defence to shreds time and time again.
The first goal came after just eight minutes, and Gary Jones made himself the clear top scorer in the process. The move was started when the ball was played to Clive Platt who was about halfway inside the Carlisle half as Dale broke out from defence. The referee missed a handball by the Carlisle marker, but it was to work to our advantage, as Plattini managed to lay it off to Paul Connor who turned and threaded it through to Gary Jones who had rushed forward to support the front two, before slotting home from the left hand side to score his first goal since Dale's last win. hmm!
We had to wait fifteen minutes for Dale to increase their lead, by which time Paul Connor had gone close on a couple of occasions, and when the goal did eventually come, it was well worth the wait. Dale were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box for a very clear handball, which had some incorrectly screaming for a penalty. Gary Jones ran over the ball and Lee Todd ran up to curl the ball over the wall to make it two superb free kicks in successive matches. You would have though that Carlisle would have learnt after his free kick winner at Brunton Park back in September. Their loss.
Five minutes after it was three nil to Dale, and it came via a goal which wasn't a million miles away from our first. The ball was past our to Paul Connor on the left hand side before making no mistake in shooting it past Glennon in the Carlisle net which effectively put the game out of Carlisle's reach.
Connor was on top form as usual, and minutes later he had made it 4-0 to Dale with the best goal of the night. A ball over the top from Michael Oliver saw Connor hit it first time and volley it over Glennon's head into the far corner of the net giving the hapless keeper no chance at all.
At this point, Carlisle were more concerned with making sure that they saved a bit of face, as Dale were all over them and looked capable of getting a score to match Hornets score from Sunday. The Cumbrians were literally chasing shadows (though I don't think Cliff and Hank would have done as much damage as Clive + Paul).
Half time came, and it was obvious in the second half that with many important fixtures still to come in the next three weeks, that Dale were not going to overly stretch themselves in the second half.
Carlisle were back onto the field of play a good few minutes before Dale, and as had been the case in the first half, they were roared on by their supporters who had certainly not given up the ghost.
Dale sat back that bit more, and were prepared to soak up the pressure from the visitors who had a couple of efforts blocked by the superb Mark Monington at the back.
If the Dale players had settled for a 4-0 win, then nobody had told Matthew Glennon in the Carlisle goal. For when Wayne Evans' weak shot bounced in front of him, he let it slip through his legs Nicky Weaver style to make it 5-0, when Evo had near enough started to trot back to the half way line to defend the goalkeeper's kick.
The drubbing was completed five minutes later when Paul Connor grabbed his hat trick with another superbly taken goal. With the ball bouncing awkwardly at the back post, he steadied himself, controlled the ball, and turned and fired it past Glennon, who as ever had no chance at all.
At this stage with twenty five minutes to go, talk was turning to Dale break their record ever victory (8-1 against Chesterfield back in the 1920's). At the very least, we could equal the seven goals scored by Shrewsbury. Sensibly, Parkin decided that we had done the Carlisle defence enough damage and Paul Connor was withdrawn to a rapturous ovation from the home supporters in honour of one of the best hat tricks ever seen at Spotland.
Graham Lancashire was brought on in Connor's place, and soon Paul Ware and Phil Hadland followed him into the arena, but the emphasis was on keeping fresh legs for Saturday's trip to Macclesfield this weekend. With the exception of the odd scare at the back, when Carlisle proved themselves unable of scoring in a house of ill repute by blasting over when they should have grabbed the consolation their supporters were appealing for.
Looking back, it shows just how vital Lee Todd's injury time equaliser against Brighton was. That returned the confidence to the team, after leaving the pitch smiling for the first time in weeks. That was evident tonight, as the Dale players enjoyed this match, and who knows, the play offs may just be tucked onto the end of our fixture list after all. On this performance, who'd bet against it?