Rochdale squandered a one nil lead at Southend United on Saturday and left Roots Hall empty handed.
Terry Gornell gave Dale the perfect to start to the second half with a goal five minutes after the interval, but Rochdale’s lead was short-lived as the home side netted twice in quick succession, the first of which came just seven minutes after Gornell's opener. Marc Laird put the game to bed on 77 minutes.
Rochdale enjoyed an early spell of pressure and won two corners in as many minutes during the opening four minutes of the match. Neither set piece proved fruitful, but Dale did force goalkeeper Paul Smith into a save with five minute on clock as Dele Adebola tested the stopper in what was the first real chance of the game.
The towering frontman rose above the Southend defence to get a powerful header on a Phil Edwards cross, but after sending it down the middle of goal, it was a comfortable save for the ‘keeper in the end.
With Dale unable to take advantage of the bright opening spell, it was the home side who went to apply the pressure for a short time, however some good defending from Rochdale ensured the match remained level.
On seven minutes, Ryan Edwards was on hand to clear the danger with a diving header after Michael Timlin attempted to send a menacing ball across the face of a busy goal mouth.
Two minutes later and the woodwork denied the Shrimpers’ Britt Assombalonga who had beaten Josh Lillis with a looping header.
Assombalonga tested the Dale goal again shortly after with a point blank close range effort which forced Lillis into a fantastic reaction save to keep out the striker out.
The half, which was evenly matched overall, continued at pace and after patiently waiting on an opening, Tutte broke forward down the right hand flank before sending a cross into the 18-yard box for the awaiting Terry Gornell. The onloan Shrewsbury Town frontman flicked a header goal wards but failed to get enough power on it to cause problems for Smith.
Just moments later up the other end, Rhys Bennett, who was in fine form during the half, did well to blast a clearance over the bar from less than six yards out to stave off the danger after Assombalonga fired the ball low across the face of goal for two in running Shrimpers.
On 37 minutes it looked as though Bobby Grant had broken the deadlock with a free kick, but much to his disappointment, his low drive went within inches of the target and rippled the side netting on its way past the upright.
As the half approached the interval Grant drew a fantastic save from Smith with another set piece. This time he rounded the wall with a curling effort and was kept out only by the ‘keeper who got two palms on the effort to send it off target.
The free-kick was one of the last kicks of the half and the teams went into the break tied at 0-0.
It was dream start for Rochdale after the interval, but despite opening the scoring on 50 minutes, they found themselves on the back foot less than ten minutes later.
Five minutes after the re-start Terry Gornell broke his goal scoring duct and netted his first of the season after getting on the end of a Phil Edwards cross which was floated deep into the six yard box. The ball seemed to take an eternity to drop into the back of the net, but once it crossed the line, Gornell peeled away from goal and towards the Dale dugout to celebrate opening his account.
Both teams were certainly fired up after Gornell opened the scoring, and within moments, Southend were breathing down on goal, testing Lillis. The goalkeeper lost the ball in what became a melee inside the six yard box and with several bodies all trying to get a touch on the ball to steer it into the back of the net Rochdale somehow managed to make a clearance and see out the danger.
This was a sign of things to come and Dale’s lead was short-lived. Jason Kennedy, who was making his 150th league appearance for Dale, fired a low drive at Smith who spilled the effort to send the ball out of play for Rochdale’s third consecutive corner.
And it was from the resulting corner that the home side broke forward on the counter attack to quash Dale’s lead, just seven minutes after Gornell had opened the scoring. The equaliser coming through Assombalonga.
The goal certainly inspired the home side and they turned the game on its head, netting another just two minutes later. Lillis was caught off his line following a fine cross into the box from Timlin which made it easy for Tomlin to fire the ball past the ‘keeper and into the net to give the home side a 2-1 lead.
Rochdale struggled to get a foothold on the game and on 76 minutes Southend United came close again, Tomlin again in the thick of the action. He lobbed Lillis who was off his line, and thankfully for Rochdale the ball, which was dipping on its way towards to the net, dropped over the bar.
And with the Shrimpers threatening, their third of the afternoon came just a minute later. Assombalonga fed the ball through for the onrunning Marc Laird who slotted the ball low past Lills to put the game to bed.
Manager John Coleman had opted to freshen things up shortly before Southend’s third of the afternoon with the introduction of George Donnelly in place of Adebola, but the change upfront failed to find the goal which Dale needed to give themselves a life line heading into the closing stages of the encounter.
In stoppage time, Bobby Grant, who tried in vein to pull one back for Dale, again found the side netting as he fired a shot from the angle.
And right at the death, Lillis pulled off a finger-tip save to stop the home side extending their advantage further after Assombalonga pounded on an Edwards mistake.
In the end it finished Southend United 3, Rochdale 1.