Despite dominating for the majority of the match, Dale were unable to break the deadlock in match which saw Rochdale miss from the spot, and the visitors reduced to ten men in the second half after Alex Marrow was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Rochdale went into the match on the back of Tuesday night’s win over Oxford United and Manager John Coleman made two changes to the side who were victorious in the mid-week fixture. Phil Edwards replaced Joe Rafferty in defence, while George Donnelly who turned Tuesday night’s game on its head started ahead of Dele Adebola.
The first opportunity of the match fell to Dale’s Bobby Grant on six minutes as he looked to capitalise on a stray ball after Fleetwood Town goalkeeper Scott Davies slipped inside the 18-yard box. Defender Youl Mawene however managed to get back to intercept to stop Grant making a clean connection with the ball.
It was Rochdale who continued to apply the pressure in the final third and just five minutes later Kevin McIntyre surged forward sending a low cross across the face of goal for the onrunning Grant. He was however denied by Davies who cleared the ball off the line.
Up the other end Josh Lillis was called into action moments later as Lee Fowler tested the ‘keeper from distance, in the end it was comfortable save for the stopper. Rochdale went on to break on the counter attack and Andrew Tutte, who had controlled the ball impeccably just outside his own half, ran free from his marker before sending a drive from 30 yards in on goal, it was however blocked.
On 18 minutes, Dale had Ryan Edwards to thank as the onloan Blackburn youngster blocked an effort Tom Barkhuizen which looked certain for the bottom corner of the net.
Rochdale continued to push forward as they searched for the opening goal, and on 26 minutes the forward pairing of Grant and George Donnelly applied the pressure on Davies. The ‘keeper could only parry away a powerful long range drive from Grant back into play, allowing Donnelly to send in a follow up effort which was blocked by the Davies and sent out for a corner kick.
From the resulting set piece Fleetwood Town’s Steven Gillespie came within inches of sending the ball into his net as he headed the ball clear.
Shortly before the half hour mark the Cod Army came close to breaking the deadlock after Lillis failed to deal with a low drive from Jamie McGuire. He punched the ball back into play which fell for Barkhuizen who fired a shot back in on goal. Lillis however managed to get a touch on the follow up to send it round the post in what was a moment of panic.
As the clock ticked towards half time Bennett, who had made himself available inside the six yard box, had an effort saved by Davies, before Donnelly sent a low drive just inches past the upright.
There were no changes at the interval as Dale remained as was for the start of the second half and they were given the opportunity to open the scoring from the spot just minutes after the re-start, but were denied by a fine save from goalkeeper Davies.
With 48 minutes on the clock the referee adjudged that Grant had been felled inside the box by Alex Marrow and awarded a penalty. Ashley Grimes stepped up to take the resulting spot kick but was kept out by the ‘keeper.
The momentum continued with Rochdale and despite creating plenty of movement in the final third were unable to break down the Cod Army defence.
On 58 minutes, Donnelly sent a first time ball wide of the target after yet more attacking play from the home side.
Fleetwood Town were then reduced to ten men with 64 minutes played after Alex Marrow was shown his second yellow card of the afternoon for a challenge on Tutte and Rochdale looked to make the most of the extra man as they continued to create opportunities in front of goal.
Two minutes after the sending off Donnelly was through one on one with Davies after a neat through ball from Grimes, but the former Fleetwood frontman could only curl it round the upright.
Just a minute later and the number nine was in on goal once again after Davies slipped inside his box. There was just too much on the ball however and Donnelly was unable to get on the end of it to send it round the ‘keeper.
The visitors went on to have two opportunities in quick succession, the first from a set piece. On 74 minutes Howell sent a 20-yard free kick just inches wide of the upright, before Curtis Obeng’s curling effort was collected by Lillis after he was allowed the space to get a shot away after seeing off two markers.
But it was Rochdale who continued to dominate in the final third as they match ticked towards the full time whistle. Donnelly then sent a curling effort from distance over the bar as Dale Rochdale continued to search for a deserved opening goal but despite being on top throughout the half they were unable to find the back of the net.
It finished Rochdale 0, Fleetwood Town 0.