SWINDON Town kicked off their return to League One with a comfortable 3-1 victory over Rochdale at the County Ground.

On top from the first minute, Town pressed their visitors into submission during the first half as Tyler Smith, Anthony Grant and Matt Smith all registered before the break.

A scrappy second half offered little in the way of entertainment, however, the damage was already done by the time Jimmy Keohane pulled one back for Dale in second-half stoppage time.

Wellens made five changes from Tuesday’s EFL Trophy defeat to West Brom under-21s while just two players who played in the 2-0 victory over Scunthorpe United a year ago started once again on Saturday.

Rob Hunt swapped right back for left while Zeki Fryers began proceedings in the centre of defence instead of last term’s left-back role.

Defending a record of six wins in the previous six games on opening day, Town made the perfect start in terms of extending that pattern.

Although Jack Payne's early corner from the right was quite poor, the ball still dropped to an unmarked Tyler Smith on the edge of the six-yard box.

The striker steadied himself before hammering into the corner to put Town ahead after only four minutes.

The opening 20 minutes was almost plain sailing for Swindon, aside from a scary moment as Matt Smith dallied on the ball for too long on the edge of his own box before being dispossessed.

Town recovered quickly, and Smith learnt from his mistake thereafter.

Payne and Jaiyesimi continued their lively starts by testing Rochdale goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, but neither could find a way past.

Wellens’ men continued to harass Dale into mistakes, although very few chances came the way of the hosts before Grant notched his first goal for Town midway through the first half.

Following a small spell of pressure by Rochdale, the hosts doubled their lead in the 33rd minute.

Jaiyesimi twisted and turned on the left, following a short corner, before clipping an inviting ball across to the back post for Grant to nod in like any accomplished striker.

And minutes before half-time, Swindon put the game to bed after pouncing on a defensive mistake from Rochdale.

A weak pass into midfield was intercepted by Matt Smith before the Arsenal loanee notched his first professional goal – sliding his effort into the corner from the edge of the box and past the advancing Bazunu.

Though Town did not start the second half with the same intensity as they ended the first, that control they had soon found its way back once the pressing resumed in earnest.

Matt Smith and Payne both continued their excellent games by dispossessing a Rochdale midfielder and creating a dangerous moment, respectively.

Though Smith’s contribution led to no shot, Payne almost made it four when grabbing the ball back on the edge of the visitor’s box.

He danced through a couple of challenges before seeing his driven shot deflected into the arms of Bizunu.

With the tempo of the game much slower in the second, Rochdale did create a couple of chances following the introduction of substitute Fabio Taveres.

The forward curled over moments after his introduction before Oliver Rathbone smashes a left-footed shot towards the corner of Kovar’s goal in the 70th minute.

The Town stopper got down well to his left to save, however.

The second half continued in scrappy fashion, with a slow tempo not helping either team create any real momentum.

Rochdale began to grow into the game slightly, but a lack of quality up front meant few meaningful chances were created.

With 10 minutes to play, Town could have had a fourth after Jaiyesimi was played in on goal down the left by Payne.

However, the winger took far too long making a decision and Rochdale cleared as far as Jonny Smith.

The Bristol City loanee, who endured a fairly poor day, forced Bazunu into a stretching save down to his right before the stopper gathered the rebound.

In a second half that offered very little drama or entertainment, Keohane pulled one back for Rochdale in second-half stoppage time, tapping in at the back post to give the visitors a positive to take forward.

STFC line-up: Kovar, Caddis, Odimayo, Fryers, Hunt, Grant, M Smith, Jaiyesimi, Payne, J Smith, T Smith.

SUBS: Fryer, Curran, Haines, Pitman, Hope.

RAFC line-up: Bazunu, McLaughlin, McShane, O'Connell, Dooley, Morley, Newby, Keohane, Rathbone, Done, Lund.

SUBS: McNulty, Lynch, Tavares, Bradley, Amankwaah, Baah, Brierley.