Rochdale were forced to settle for a draw against Blackburn Rovers at Spotland on Saturday as the visitors netted a last minute free-kick to avoid defeat.
Dale were in control for the majority of the pre-season friendly and had taken a deserved 2-0 lead thanks to the Scott Hogan and Peter Vincenti who were impressive. However a 62 minute goal from DJ Campbell, and a set-piece from Morten Pedersen with the last kick of the ball, saw Rovers leave with a draw.
Rochdale welcomed Rovers to Spotland for the first home friendly of the pre-season schedule and played out the match on a pristine playing surface. It was a cloudy afternoon which offered some respite from the recent high temperatures.
Just one trialist appeared for Dale, with goalkeeper Robbie Thomson starting in net.
Rochdale started in an uptempo fashion and their fast, free flowing football meant the visitors were unable to get a foothold on the game.
The majority of the opportunities created during the first half came from Rochdale and after peppering the goal, they took a deserved lead on 12 minutes.
With less than two minutes on the clock Dale’s intent was clear as Michael Rose picked out Ian Henderson with a sublime ball up the line. Hendo sent a cross into the box for the awaiting Peter Vincenti who glanced a header narrowly wide of the target.
Three minutes later, Vincenti again was involved as he fired a shot from 25-yards down the throat of goalkeeper Jake Kean who was forced to palm it down before smothering inside his area.
On seven minutes former Dale loanee Kean, who was by far the busier of the two ‘keepers, was again called into action to deny Hogan. The forward did extremely well to out muscle two Rovers’ players out the right hand flank before cutting inside and sending a curling effort in at the near post. Kean sent it round the upright.
The game was all Rochdale and they finally got the breakthrough they deserved five minutes later.
Hogan again caused all manner of problems for the Rovers defence and after getting the better of Scott Dann he smashed the ball into bottom corner of the net to give Dale a 1-0 lead.
On 18 minutes, Rochdale were on the attack once more as Matty Lund picked out Hogan with a pacey pass. From the press box Hogan looked to be onside as the ball was played, but the linesman raised his flag. The ball went into the back of the net but of course it didn’t stand.
Rochdale continued to look the better of the two teams as they broke down every Rovers attack in midfield, stopping them posing any danger in the final third.
And it took until the 26th minute of the match for the visitors to have an opportunity on goal. They broke on the counter attack, but former Dale loanee, Jordan Rhodes, could only head over the bar from a Josh Morris cross.
Shortly after the half hour, Rovers were awarded a free-kick 25-yards from goal and were denied by the woodwork. Alan Judge took the set piece and sent a curling effort up and over the five man wall but was kept out by the cross bar.
As the game ticked towards the interval Rochdale looked comfortable and in control and went into the break a goal to the good.
HT: ROCHDALE 1-0 BLACKBURN ROVERS
As seen throughout pre-season so far, Manager Keith Hill again refrained from the mass substitution scenario as the starting eleven emerged from the start of the second half.
Rochdale were quick off the mark and doubled their lead within two minutes of the re-start.
Vincenti picked up the ball on the edge of the area before coolly firing a shot across the face of goal and past an outstretched Kean in what was a quality finish from the wide man.
The visitors had more to offer in the second half compared to the first and ‘keeper Thomson was given the biggest test of his trial period with Dale so far.
On 56 minutes, he pulled off a fantastic reaction save to keep out Dann who smashed a follow up effort in at the near post after an initial shot from a fellow team mate was blocked and fell at his feet inside the area.
Two minutes later and Rhodes should have done better as he was given a golden opportunity less than six yards from goal. Leon Best had managed to send the ball across the face of goal from an acute angle, and despite the defence and ‘keeper being pulled away from Rhodes, he headed over the cross bar from close range.
After the effort, Dale made their first substitutions of the match as Bastien Hery and Matty Lund made way for George Donnelly and Andrew Tutte.
Rovers were pressing and on 61 minutes they pulled a goal back through substitute DJ Campbell who had been on the pitch for just over a minute. He was in the right place at the right time as he bundled home a deflected shot from close range.
Just three minutes later, and Thomson was again under pressure as Rovers came forward once more, but the young ‘keeper kept out Kilgallon header from with a diving save.
Shortly afterwards, and Hogan and Vincenti who were impressive, went off to a standing ovation and were replaced by Matty Done and Joe Bunney.
And it didn’t take long for Done to make his mark as he rifled a powerful effort in on goal moments after coming on. His shot was deflected up and over the bar by Dann.
On 78 minutes, it was a case of counting heads as the visitors made a mass substitution, with seven players all entering the field of play.
In stoppage time, Rovers were awarded what looked like a very soft free-kick and Morten Pedersen made no mistake in slamming a powerful low drive into the bottom corner of the net.
It finished Rochdale 2, Blackburn 2.