Ten man Rochdale suffered a 1-0 defeat at home to AFC Wimbledon on Saturday.
A 56th minute goal from former Dale loanee Paul McCallum was enough to separate the two sides in match which was devoid of quality.
Manager John Coleman made one change to the starting eleven for the fixture with Rhys Bennett replacing Ryan Edwards who has now returned to Blackburn Rovers following the end of his loan spell at Spotland.
It was a scrappy first half which lacked goalmouth action resulting in both goalkeepers having very little to do in the opening 45 minutes.
Opportunities in front of goal were rare and the only real chance of the half came on 5 minutes when Bobby Grant was denied by the woodwork. His free kick from 20 yards, which he attempted to curl into the top corner off the net, rattled off the cross bar and back out of play.
The Wombles failed to threaten the Dale goal during the half, while Rochdale were left frustrated as the visitors’ towering back four mopped up every Dale attack.
Shortly before the half hour, Grant who finally found a way past the Wombles’ defence, sent the ball in on goal from the right hand flank and put pressure on Mat Mitchel-King who put an awkward clearance narrowly over the bar.
Five minutes later and Ashley Grimes tested the Wimbledon goal from distance, however his deflected shot from 25-yards dropped just inches over the bar.
And Rochdale, who were enjoying more of the ball for a spell, forced Neil Sullivan into his only save of the half on 39 minutes when Andrew Tutte sent a shot in on goal from inside the 18-yard box.
The opportunity was the last of the half and the teams went into the interval tied at 0-0.
After the break it was AFC Wimbledon who came out on top and eight minutes into the half Kennedy was on hand with an important block to deny substitute Jack Midson from close range.
Just moments later, and the Wombles were threatening again, this time Lillis pulled off a fantastic save to deny former Dale loanee Paul McCallum who got on the end of a corner ball with a volley.
The warning signs were there and the visitors found a breakthrough on 56 minutes through McCallum who gave Wimbledon the lead. Dale appealed for off-side as a corner ball was whipped into the area, and as the defence appeared to stand still, McCallum stepped up and side footed it home to open the scoring.
It went from bad to worse for Rochdale as they found themselves down to ten men just two minutes after McCallum’s goal. Joe Rafferty was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence.
Being a goal and a man down, Dale went in search of the equaliser immediately, and after a great piece of build-up from middle to front, Gornell attempted to send a low drive in on goal from the edge of the area but his shot was charged down by Curtis Cummings who put an end to the attack.
Rochdale continued to search for a goal but after a combination on a series of miss placed passes and the strength of Wimbledon’s back four, Dale were unable to test ‘keeper Sullivan.
Manager John Coleman went onto make three substitutions with Donnelly replacing Grimes, Gornell making way for Ray Putterill and Dele Adebola joining the front line at the expense of Kevin McIntyre.
Adebola, who entered the field of play on 82 minutes made an instant impact, as he linked up well with Grant. The veteran frontman held the ball up impeccably before sending it out to Grant on the left hand flank who could look on as his cross as cleared away and back into play.
A minute later and there was a penalty claim after Adebola was felled inside the area, however the referee was firm as he waved play on.
60 seconds later and Adebola and Grant were involved again, however this time Grant’s cross had too much on it for Adebola to get on the end of.
In the end the Wimbledon defence stood strong as they held out to secure the three points.
It finished Rochdale 0, AFC Wimbledon 1.