Fabio Tavares’ strike secured a 1-0 win for the Youth Team against Fleetwood Town on Saturday.
He fired home four minutes after the break with what proved to be the winner in Dale’s first group game of the EFL Youth Alliance Northern Cup.
In a first-half of few chances, Dan Adshead saw a free-kick deflected narrowly wide and Dale goalkeeper Brad Wade held on well to a touch goalwards from Sam O’Halloran.
Dale’s best chance of the opening period fell to Musambya Kisimba, who latched on to James Neild’s forward pass and turned inside his defender, but saw an effort stopped by the legs of Fleetwood goalkeeper Alex Clayton.
Another chance came Dale’s way minutes later when Tavares latched on to Wade’s superb long pass. He squared for Lewis Bradley, whose touch goalwards was straight at Clayton.
Tavares and Bradley both fired further efforts off target, whilst Florent Hoti’s strike from the edge of the area was comfortably held by Clayton shortly after the break.
The Dale goal came a minute later, when Bradley combined with Hoti in the Fleetwood half, before Hoti slid the ball through to Tavares in the area, who finished clinically.
Dale had chances to extend their lead as they dominated the opening exchanges of the second period.
Joe Dunne saw his low cross from the left sliced inches past the post by a Fleetwood defender and Kisimba headed wide from Adshead’s inch perfect delivery, when he should have hit the target.
Bradley saw an effort from the edge of the area saved after he had done well to find Luke Matheson and receive a return ball, before the visitors missed two great chances to equalise.
Jay Matete scooped an effort over from close range, before Anthony Williams did exactly the same for Fleetwood in the final minute of added time, to ensure Dale came away with all three points in their opening group match.