Rochdale had to settle for a share of the spoils at home to Aldershot Town on Good Friday as the match ended in a 1-1 draw.
George Donnelly put Dale ahead on 53 minutes before the Shots’ Adam Mekki levelled the scoring twenty minutes later.
There was little to warm supporters on a bitterly cold day at Spotland, particularly in the first half, with opportunities in front of goal lacking.
The majority of first half was a scrappy affair and failed to spark into life until after the half hour mark. From a Dale point of view it was a lack lustre showing as they failed to get a foothold on the match until deep into the half.
For the first 30 minutes of the match both teams failed to truly test either goalkeeper, however the Shots did enjoy large spells of possession and showed an attacking prowess without causing too much trouble for the Dale defence and Josh Lillis.
The first real chance of the match fell to Aldershot’s Craig Reid on 22 minutes after Aaron Morris was allowed to run at length up the left hand flank before delivering a cross into the area for the awaiting Reid whose shot was blocked by Shane Cansdell-Sherriff.
Ten minutes later Rochdale looked to capitalise on a misjudgement from Shots ‘keeper Jamie Young as he came well outside his box with the ball. Ian Henderson was quick to close him down, and as Young attempted a clearance, it ricocheted off Henderson and back towards the open goal but could only bounce out of play.
On 35 minutes Lillis pulled off a fantastic acrobatic save to keep out Danny Rose who fired a snap shot at goal from the edge of the area. The ‘keeper was on hand to tip the effort up and over the bar.
Momentum stayed with the Shots and just two minutes later they had an effort cleared off the line by Kevin McIntyre. A free kick was floated into the area to the back post for the awaiting Asa Hall who headed back in towards goal leaving Lillis stranded. Reid was there with a follow up but McIntyre hacked the ball away from danger.
Dale finished the half the brighter of the two teams but were unable to capitalise on their best period of the match.
HT: ROCHDALE 0-0 ALDERSHOT TOWN
Rochdale started the half with the same tempo they finished the first with and showed a greater attacking intent from the re-start.
Three minutes after the interval, great link up play and vision from Michael Rose and Henderson allowed Jason Kennedy to send a volley in on goal from outside the area. His effort went over the bar.
Rochdale looked the hungrier of the two sides as the half continued and applied the pressure in the final third.
It was a confident opening period from Dale and Keith Hill’s side found a breakthrough on 53 minutes – George Donnelly with the vital goal. He toe poked the ball past Young from a tight angle and the ball came off the inside of the far post and into the back of the net.
On 64 minutes Bobby Grant sent a curling effort over the bar, before forcing the ‘keeper into a save with a shot from distance. Young spilled the initial shot but made amends as he quickly smothered the ball to stave of the danger from an in-running Donnelly.
Aldershot had been kept at bay during the half as Dale dominated, but they netted against the run of play on 73 minutes to level the scoring in circumstances which saw substitute Adam Mekki bundle the ball home from close range despite appeals from Lillis of a foul in Dale’s favour inside the area.
The goal inspired the visitors and they put Dale under the cosh for a spell.
Three minutes after the equaliser Hall fired a powerful strike, which looked destined for the top corner of the net, at goal. He was kept out only by Lillis who got an important hand to the ball to turn it onto the underside of the cross bar and back into play.
The Shots continued to threaten but to no avail as the Dale defence stood strong soaking up the pressure and it was Dale who could have found the winner five minutes from time.
Donnelly intercepted an attempted clearance from Ben Herd and played in Grant on the edge of the area who cut inside taking the ball past his marker before facing up one on one with the goalkeeper. He unleashed a shot which over the bar.
Rochdale threw everything forward in the closing stages of the game but couldn’t make advantage count and Shots came close to stealing the match right at the death as substitute and former Dale loanee Paul McCallum sent a turning shot at speed past the upright. It had looked certain to nestled in the bottom corner of the net but went just inches past the post.
It finished Rochdale 1, Aldershot Town 1.