Ten man Rochdale had to settle for a point against Chesterfield on Saturday in what was an evenly matched encounter at Spotland.
Chesterfield opened the scoring on 55 minutes through Jay O’Shea, however Dale level proceedings eleven minutes later with a fine curling effort from Bobby Grant.
There was late drama at Spotland as Dale were reduced to ten men on 86 minutes after Grant was shown red, while in stoppage time the Spireites were denied a penalty and Brian Barry-Murphy missed the chance to seal a late victory for Rochdale.
Saturday’s encounter marked Keith Hill’s first home match back in charge and he was welcomed back to the club with a rapturous applause from the home support.
Hill made two changes to the Dale eleven for the visit of Chesterfield after Skipper Peter Cavanagh and Terry Gornell missed out through injury. Shane Cansdell-Sherriff, who joined Rochdale on loan from Preston North End on Wednesday started in the midfield, while Dele Adebola was given the nod upfront.
There was a high tempo in the opening 20 minutes of the first half, during which Chesterfield had the better of the opportunities.
After a bright start to the match, the Spireites were denied by the woodwork on six minutes. Goalkeeper Josh Lillis was left rooted to the spot as Jay O’Shea unleashed a curling effort from distance, however he was kept out by the cross bar.
Just 60 seconds later Rochdale were on the attack, their first on goal, but despite Joe Rafferty charging into the 18-yard-box, he could only send a rising shot over the bar.
Almost immediately up the other end, Chesterfield should have opened the scoring, however Richards failed to turn the ball into the net from less than six yards. O’Shea was able to send a menacing ball low across the face of goal, and despite Richards making the run into the box, he was unable to get a toe on the ball to send it past Lillis, and instead it made its way out of play.
Momentum continued with Paul Cook’s side and on 13 minute Lillis was on hand to deny Whittaker from close range as the visitors looked to take advantage of their time on top.
While the opening spell was dominated by Chesterfield, Rochdale began to work their way into the game with some fast flowing football, and they looked a handful for the Spireites defence with every attack forward.
On 15 minutes, Jason Kennedy, Andrew Tutte and Adebola linked up well to test Lee. After some quick passing between the three, Adebola was through on goal, but despite seeing off two markers, he was only able to get a bundling effort away which was smothered by the ‘keeper.
Eight minutes later, Cansdell-Sherriff started a move forward from the mid-field area with a sublime ball over the top for an on-running Adebola, who was unable to take full control of it. The veteran frontman was however able to thread it through to Tutte. He was kept out by Lee who pulled off an important save deny the Dale skipper.
Shortly before the half hour mark Dale were on the attack once more but on this occasion were unable to test Lee as Grimes swung a shot at thin air after missing a ball which had been played to his feet by Adebola on the edge of the area.
Almost immediately at the other end, Whittaker sent a fizzing low drive narrowly wide of the upright.
As the half approached the interval neither team were able to create any clear cut opportunities, however Grimes did have an effort comfortably saved by ‘keeper Lee.
HT: Rochdale 0-0 Chesterfield
There were no changes for Rochdale at the interval as Manager Keith Hill continued as was for the start of the second half.
It was an evenly matched opening period after the re-start in terms of play, however Chesterfield had the better of the opportunities and broke the deadlock on 55 minutes.
Five minutes after the break, the Spireites found the back of the net with a back-heeled effort from Richard, however it was deemed off side.
Five minutes later and they went on to find an opening after Richard Togwell disposed Cansdell-Sherriff with a tough challenge to set up the opportunity in front of goal. Togwell sent the ball out to Whittaker who squared a pass to O’Shea who made no mistake in side footing it into the back of the net to give the visitors a 0-1 lead.
Despite going a goal to the good, Chesterfield were unable to build on that and Rochdale also failed to create any clear cut chances in the final third during what was a quiet spell in front of goal, however patience from Dale paid off and they found an equaliser on 66 minutes.
Adebola, who started the move forward from just inside his own half, thread the ball through to Tutte on the right hand flank and in turn found Grant 25-yards out. Grant cut inside before unleashing a fine curling effort which nestled itself into the top corner of the net leaving Lee absolutely no chance of a save.
The goal spurred Dale on and momentum stayed with Rochdale as they went in search of another.
On 74 minutes, Grant came within inches of adding a second after getting on the end a great ball into the box by Rafferty. Grant took it on his chest before sending a powerful volley at goal, it grazed the bar on the woodwork on the way over the bar.
Two minutes later, and Tutte was in on the action as a sent a driving effort over the bar, while substitute Mark Randall should have done better with 84 minutes on the clock with a shot from inside the area which failed to trouble Lillis.
There was a dramatic end to match as Dale were reduced to men, the Spireites were denied a penalty and Brian Barry-Murphy missed the chance to seal a late victory for Rochdale.
On 86 minutes Bobby Grant was shown red for a late challenge on Togwell. The referee showed no hesitation as he produced the card to give Grant his marching orders.
Deep in stoppage time, Chesterfield appealed for a penalty after Richards was felled inside the area. The referee however waved play on much to the disbelief of the visitors and Dale broke on a swift counter attack.
After breaking forward, Donnelly played a great ball into the path of substitute Barry-Murphy who only had the ‘keeper to beat after making a run into the box. He attempted to curl it round Lee with the last kick of the ball, but failed to get enough swerve on the ball and in the end it was an easy save for the ‘keeper.
It finished Rochdale 1, Chesterfield 1.