Rochdale’s trip to the English Riviera on Saturday ended in defeat as Torquay United emerged 4-2 winners at Plainmoor.
Manager John Coleman named an unchanged starting eleven for the match at Plainmoor.
The players were met with wet and windy conditions which made for a slippy surface.
Despite the conditions, it was an uptempo opening to the match as both teams looked to make their mark on the game early on.
With just two minutes on the clock, Niall Thompson had the home side’s first opportunity half as he hit an effort goalward. It was a comfortable save for Josh Lills who got down low to collect.
It was end to end football and just a minute later George Donnelly had a wonderful opportunity after some great play from Ashley Grimes. Grimes skipped past the Torquay defence and in turn slotted a perfect pass in the direction of Donnelly who was unable to connect fully with the ball and sent it wide of the upright.
And in what was a perfect start to the match for Rochdale, Andrew Tutte fired Dale on seven minutes following what can only be described as training ground move from a set piece. Jason Kennedy played the corner ball short to the edge of the area, which was left by Phil Edwards for Tutte who slammed the ball into back of the net to give Dale an early 1-0 lead.
Unfortunately for Rochdale the lead was short lived as the Gulls levelled the scoring just five minutes later. With 12 minutes played, a composed Billy Bodin fired the ball home to make it game on at Plainmoor.
Up the other end and Rochdale could have regained the lead just a minute later if not for the woodwork. Peter Cavanagh’s cross-come-shot from 25 yards out smacked off the underside of the cross bar and out of play to deny Dale their second of the afternoon.
Rochdale pressed Torquay goal for a spell but were unable to make it count in the final third. Despite holding possession, only Grimes could trouble goalkeeper Michael Poke. Grimes sent a shot from distance goalward after spotting the ‘keeper off his line, but failed to find the target as the dipping effort went of the bar.
Torquay then began to take control of the game and made it very difficult for Rochdale to get out of their own half.
Ian Morris had the Gulls first effort at goal during a prolonged spell of pressure. Lillis was forced to get a hand to the shot which swerved one way then the other in order to make sure the danger was clear.
Minutes later and Lillis was called into action again as the ball fell for Morris who struck a powerful shot from the edge of the area forcing the ‘keeper to palm the ball over the bar and out for another corner kick.
And it was from the resulting set piece that Torquay netted their second of the afternoon. The ball was swept into a busy box and despite Dale’s best efforts to clear, Grimes turned the ball into his own net at the post.
The bombardment on the Rochdale goal continued after Torquay took the lead and Lillis again pulled off a fine save to deny Rene Howe shortly after.
And just minutes later, Lillis had yet another quick call to make as he left his line in a bid to meet the inrunning Howe who continued to be a threat inside the box. It was the right decision by the keeper as he calmly snatched the ball from the feet of the frontman before he could get a shot away.
Torquay went into the interval with a 2-1 lead.
There were no substitutions at the break and Dale continued as was for the start of the second half.
As had been the case at the end of the first 45 minutes, Torquay continued to pound the Dale goal after the re-start.
On 49 minutes Lillis pulled off a fantastic save to keep out Niall Thompson who attempted to curl the ball past the ‘keeper from inside the 18 yard box. Lillis reacted quickly to tip the ball round the upright.
Three minutes later and Torquay did everything but find the back of the net as they pounded the goal with three shots in quick succession after Dale failed to clear the danger. As the final shot came in Rochdale had Matty Pearson to thank for keeping the Gulls out as the 19-year-old threw his body on the line to deny Bodin.
Bodin then struck the bar for Torquay, before he netted their third of the afternoon as the game approached the hour mark. With the Dale defence left scarpering, he coolly fired the ball past Lillis and back into the net to extend the home side’s lead at Plainmoor.
Seven minutes later and the Gulls made it four. Howe turned the defence, leaving them trailing, as he ran through on goal one on one with the keeper before driving it past Lillis.
Following the goal, Coleman opted to make a double substitution to add to the change already made earlier in the half (Grimes had made way for Ray Putterill on 55 minutes). Ian Craney and Craig Curran replaced Ryan Edwards and Dele Adebola as Dale went in search of a goal.
On 73 minutes Dale had the opportunity to claw a goal back after being awarded a spot kick following a foul on Donnelly inside the box by Aaron Downes who was red carded for the offence.
Jason Kennedy, who netted twice from the spot against Barnsley in the Capital One Cup, stepped up to take the penalty but couldn’t convert as Poke tipped the ball round the post.
With Torquay down to ten men, Rochdale looked to make the most of the extra man as they pressured the Gulls goal.
Putterill tested Poke before Ian Craney forced the goalkeeper into a finger -tip save. And on 85 minutes Putterill pulled one back for Rochdale.
He slotted home from a tight angle to make it 4-2.
Rochdale continued to search for another, and came closing to adding a third two minutes later. Nicholson however denied Putterill with a clearance off the line.
And as the clocked ticked towards full time Putterill fired over the bar from a half volley, while Craney came inches wide of the upright.
It finished Torquay 4, Rochdale 2.