Two goals in six, second half minutes were the difference between the two teams as Rochdale were left frustrated at Spotland despite a strong showing, going down 2-0 to Bradford City.
Rochdale lined up unchanged from the previous two games with Conrad Logan in goal; Rafferty; Bennett; Eastham; Vincenti; Hery; Done; Tanser; Allen; Kennedy and Henderson. New signing Shamir Fenelon by started the game on the bench. There were several familiar names in the Bradford City side with Stephen Darby, Rory McCardle and Jason Kennedy all starting the game.
Rochdale opened the game the brightest of the two sides, causing trouble amongst the Bradford defence on several occasions. Matty Done was allowed to cut inside from the right and release a left footed shot towards goal. His effort clipped off the leg of a Bradford man and deflected into the side netting of Jordan Pickford's goal.
Joe Rafferty was enjoying some adventurous play, breaking forward on a couple of occasions. His first foray into the Bradford half of the pitch resulted in him delivering a looping cross towards Rochdale heads but the one white shirt in a sea of blue was able to knock it behind for a corner. His second came as he was allowed the space to drive forwards but his resulting shot from the edge of the box was dragged across goal and wide.
After 20 minutes Rochdale had the ball in the back of the net through the head of Done, but he was denied by the flag of the linesman. Vincenti worked himself into space on the right-hand side of the pitch and delivered an inch perfect cross towards the head of Done, who glanced the ball into the far corner of the goal, but the referee's assistant had already raised his flag.
This seemed to spark a little bit of life into the Bradford team, who went on to create a couple of chances of their own. James Hanson was able to get his diving header on to the end of a cross from the left wing. His contact glanced the ball in the direction of Logan's back post but it drifted harmlessly wide.
Jason Kennedy tried his luck after getting on the end of a corner with a left-footed volley. The out swinging ball was delivered into the box by Alan Sheehan and bent towards the boot of Kennedy. His sweetly struck volley was saved by the diving Logan, who did well to hold onto the ball amidst a crowded box.
Dale weren't to be outdone however, as Bastien Hery went on a strong run through the middle of the park, evading several men in white shirts. He eventually lay the ball to Vincenti who was waiting just inside the box on the left side. His Curling effort towards the far top corner didn't come back down fast enough however, and dropped just over the crossbar.
HALF TIME: Rochdale 0-0 Bradford City
The second half opened in frantic style with both sides creating chances. A deep Tom Kennedy cross from the left hand side found the head of Rhys Bennett who was rushing in, but his powerful header was well saved by Pickford in the Bradford goal.
Two minutes later, Billy Clarke was given an opportunity after he created the space to get a shot away. After cutting in from the right hand side, he knocked the ball into space on the angle of box before delivering a low drive towards goal. His effort was comfortably saved by Logan, low down to his left.
It was straight back down the other end for another chance for Rochdale as Bennett was picked out at the back post by Done. The move came about as Vincenti waited for the run of Done and picked him out at the by-line with a brilliant through ball. He showed composure to hold onto the ball and looked to clip the ball towards Bennett at the back post but his ball was marginally to high and Bennett couldn't make a clean contact on the ball.
As this back and forth went on, a goal seemed imminent and on the hour mark, it was Bradford who opened the scoring through Jason Kennedy. The Ball was delivered in from the left wing towards the back post and found the head of James Hanson who looked to knock the ball down. This fell invitingly at the feet of Jason Kennedy, who was able to swing a strong right foot at the ball, past Logan and into the Rochdale goal.
Six minutes later and James Hanson turned goal scorer as he got onto the end of a corner. The Ball was delivered from the right, and Hanson rose strongest, six yards out, to head the ball into the back of the net and double Bradford's advantage.
Keith Hill looked to change the game using all three substitutes in the space of five minutes. Shamir Fenelon was handed his debut in place of Done; Donnelly came on for Joe Rafferty and Calvin Andrew replaced Peter Vincenti.
As the game wore on, Rochdale began to hold the majority of possession but, as Bradford began to sit deeper and deeper, struggled to break through the lines. Rochdale were reduced to long range efforts from the likes of Henderson, Donnelly and Fenelon but could not find a way through. This pattern continued for the remainder of the game as Bradford went on to take all three points.
FULL TIME: Rochdale 0-2 Bradford City
Man of the Match: Bastien Hery