Rochdale fell to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Fleetwood Town on Saturday, despite a battling display at Spotland.
Antoni Sarcevic put the Cod Army ahead on 22 minutes from the spot after the visitors were handed a debatable penalty. Scott Hogan levelled the match for Dale six minutes before the interval, but an 83rd minute goal from Mark Roberts ensured all three points for Fleetwood Town on a wet and windy afternoon.
There were two changes to the eleven who lined up against Rotherham United in the FA Cup last weekend – the suspended Matty Lund was replaced by Andrew Tutte, while Peter Vincenti was handed a start ahead of Olly Lancashire, who was on the bench.
The opening exchanges saw a hard fought battle as both sides looked to get a foothold on the game and clear cut opportunities were at a premium for both teams.
The sides were resolute and neither ‘keeper had a save to make before the visitors were awarded what looked like a debatable penalty in the 22nd minute.
Charles Taylor, who had skipped inside the area, appeared to go to ground easily, but the referee was quick to point to the spot. Antoni Sarcevic stepped up to take the resulting penalty, and fired low into the bottom corner of the net.
GOAL: Rochdale 0-1 Fleetwood Town (Sarcevic, 22mins)
The match continued in the same manner as it had before the goal, with neither side truly testing the ‘keeper.
Most notably though, Michael Rose fired narrowly over the bar shortly after the half hour mark following some excellent football from Dale, which had seen the left full back played into the action after by Scott Hogan, who had spread the ball wide after some good vision.
And eight minutes later Rochdale netted the equaliser from a corner.
Ashley Eastham had got a head onto the corner ball, sending towards the upright, and in what was a scramble on the line, Hogan squeezed it in at the post to draw Dale level.
GOAL: Rochdale 1-1 Fleetwood Town (Hogan, 39mins)
HT: ROCHDALE 1-1 FLEETWOOD TOWN
There were no substitutions for Dale at the interval as Manager Keith Hill stayed as was for the start of the second half.
There was a lively opening to the second half as both sides had golden opportunities within three minutes of the re-start.
Within sixty seconds Matty Done came agonisingly close as he attempted to curl the ball in at the far post. He had beaten ‘keeper Scott Davies, but could only look on as the ball shaved the woodwork on its way past the wrong side of the target.
Moments later and Fleetwood had the chance to re-gain the lead, but Matty Blair was denied by the woodwork from two yards.
It set the tempo for the half, despite deterioration in the weather, on what became a very wet and windy afternoon at Spotland.
Both teams dug deep, but with the defences resolute, on the hour mark Fleetwood Town made a double substitution with Junior Brown and Daniel Carr replacing Blair and Nathan Tyson, respectively.
Two minutes later and Done made way for Lee Molyneux.
It was end to end at Spotland, and in the 64th minute the Cod Army’s Gareth Evans should have done better as he hit over the bar from six yards.
Ten minutes later and the visitors were almost gifted a goal, as Jack O’Connell’s defensive header almost beat his own ‘keeper. Lillis was alert and did well to get two hands behind the ball to keep it out.
A further substitution followed for both sides, and for Dale, Joe Bunney replaced Peter Vincenti.
Rochdale had been looking the more likely to score with some excellent football, but it was Fleetwood who went on to regain the lead in the 83rd minute.
Substitute Brown sent a cross into the box, and after Nathan Pond was denied by the post, Mark Roberts was first to react and headed into an empty net.
GOAL: Rochdale 1-2 Fleetwood Town (Roberts, 83mins)
Rochdale continued to drive forward in a bid to rescue what would have been a deserved point, but were unable to find a way past a resolute Fleetwood Town.
It finished Rochdale 1, Fleetwood Town 2.