Gary Mills praised the contribution of two-goal hero Michael Potts as York ended a seven-game winless run with a 3-2 victory at Spotland.
Potts only made the starting line up after Peterborough recalled Daniel Kearns from his loan spell with the Minstermen. And the diminutive midfielder made the most of his first start of the season, netting either side of a Jason Walker effort as the visitors raced into a three-goal first-half lead.
"I was delighted for Michael," said boss Mills. "He came in for his first start and I know what he is capable of, but he showed everybody else just what he can do.
"He knows why he's not been in the side and I told him to show us what he can do and he certainly took the chance and I'm really pleased for him. He keeps smiling and stays positive even when he's not in team, he's carried on working hard and he's a credit to himself and the profession."
Mills was delighted with his side's performance, which left Rochdale with a mountain to climb at half time. Potts converted his first from close range after hesitancy in the Dale backline before Walker toe-poked a second 19 minutes in. Potts completed his brace with a persistent finish 10 minutes before the break.
Though the hosts pulled two goals back in the second half through Rhys Bennett and a Bobby Grant penalty, York were good value for the three points.
Rochdale boss John Coleman was less than pleased with his team's first-half display.
"We did well after the break and probably deserved to take at least a point from the game," he said. "But you cannot give teams a three-goal start and then start playing.
"The damage was done in the first half. I thought York played very well in that first half, one of the best teams we've played here. But we were architects of our own downfall and gave away three of the softest goals I've ever seen.
"I thought their first goal was a fluke and the second goal was a foul. But they got their tails up in the first 20 minutes and looked a decent side. We showed in the second half that we are better than them, but the best team doesn't always win the game."