Two goals in five second-half minutes saw an impressive Rochdale side take all three points at the Globe Arena on Saturday.
Morecambe slipped to their fourth defeat in five games in all competitions after an own goal from captain Mark Hughes just after the hour mark and a fine Scott Hogan strike shortly after.
Padraig Amond did pull a goal back two minutes from time but it was a largely disjointed display from a Shrimps side showing four changes from the FA Cup exit to Southend seven days earlier.
The game kicked off at a frantic pace, Alex Kenyon firing a well-struck shot from 20 yards narrowly over just 55 seconds in.
Almost immediately the visitors had a chance of their own, but Hogan’s effort from 25 yards was easily held by Barry Roche low to his left.
They were the best chances of the opening quarter as Rochdale just about edged a full-blooded clash between the sides placed fifth and sixth in League 2 at the start of the day.
After an impressive performance on his return to the starting line up last week, Marcus Marshall produced some more neat skill to release Ryan Williams down the right on the half hour and his whipped cross found Ellison on the stretch but he couldn’t control his effort at the back post.
But the game failed to live up to its early promise in front of a bumper Globe Arena crowd, the best chance of the half coming four minutes before the break.
After Tony Diagne, given the nod at left back ahead of Robbie Threlfall, had done well to clear Michael Rose’s original cross, the ball was pulled back to Ian Henderson who brought a good near post save from Barry Roche from 12 yards.
The Shrimps then had the better of the early exchanges after the break, Williams firing a shot harmlessly wide on 49 minutes after a Jack Sampson long throw had broken to him 20 yards out.
But Dale soon found their attacking flow, an excellent Henderson free-kick deflecting off Diagne and going wide before the impressive Hogan came inches from getting on the end on an in-swinging Joe Rafferty cross.
Hogan came even closer on the hour mark. As both Dale wing backs enjoyed success down the flanks, Rose fed the former Hyde man 20 yards out and he fired narrowly over with Roche beaten as the visitors began to turn the screw.
And Keith Hill’s side took a deserved lead two minutes later.
An excellent Hogan back flick fed Andrew Tutte on the left side of the area and his cross-come-shot was turned into his own net by unlucky Shrimps skipper Hughes.
And the visitors doubled their lead on 66 minutes with the man of the match deservedly getting on the scoresheet.
Hogan beat Andy Wright to Ashley Eastham’s chipped cross-field pass and curled a fine effort from just inside the left edge of the area beyond Roche and into the far corner.
It nearly got even worse for the hosts in the closing stages as Matt Lund drilled a shot narrowly wide when found unmarked by Henderson’s free-kick before the same player then headed Rose’s centre wide from 10 yards when he should have hit the target.
But out of nothing Amond then gave the Shrimps a lifeline two minutes from time, calmly finishing past Lillis when played in one-on-one by Ellison.
The goal gave the hosts hope of snatching a point at the death, but the closest they came was Ellison’s acrobatic overhead kick that sailed over the bar in stoppage time as Rochdale sealed a well-earned three points.
Morecambe: Roche, Wright, Hughes (capt), McCready, Diagne, Kenyon, Fleming (McGee 87), Williams (Amond 65), Marshall (Mwasile 71), Ellison, Sampson. Subs not used: Arestidou, Threlfall, Drummond, Doyle.
Booked: Sampson, McCready, Mwasile
Rochdale: Lillis, Rafferty, Eastham, O’Connell, Rose, Lancashire (capt), Hogan, Tutte, Lund, Henderson, Cummins (Vincenti 87). Subs not used: Thomson, Hery, Done, Allen, Dicker, Bunney.
Referee: Eddie Ilderton
Attendance: 2,563 (744 away)