Rochdale had victory snatched away from them in the dying seconds of Saturday’s League One fixture against Notts County as the visitors equalised deep in stoppage time in controversial circumstances.
Not only should there have been an offside given, Josh Lillis was also fouled before the ball was hit into the back of the net by Garry Thompson.
Dale had gone a goal behind shortly before the break after Mike Edwards struck for the Magpies, but Rochdale turned the game on its head after the interval as Ian Henderson firstly netted less than 30 seconds after the re-start and Peter Vincenti sent a bullet header beyond Roy Carroll in the 64th minute.
Rochdale were dealt a sickening blow six minutes into four minutes of stoppage time as Thompson turned the ball past a grounded Lillis .
Keith Hill named just one change to his side from Tuesday night's 4-1 FA Cup victory over Aldershot Town with Jack O'Connell returning to the side in place of Rhys Bennett who dropped to the bench. Former Dale captain and record appearance holder, Gary Jones, started in midfield for Notts County - his first return to Spotland since leaving for pastures new in the summer of 2012.
The game started in frustrating fashion for Rochdale and for Conrad Logan in particular. In the first minute of the game, Logan rose to collect a Gary Jones free kick and appeared to do so cleanly. He landed awkwardly, however, losing his footing and picking up an injury which caused him to leave the field of play with Lillis taking his place –his first appearance since August.
This knocked much of the wind out of the game with very few clear cut chances for much of the half. The most promising move fell the way of Matty Done who was able to cut in from the right-wing before looking to release a left-footed curling effort towards the back post. His effort struck the outstretched leg of the Notts County defender however, and looped tamely into Roy Carroll's arms in the Notts goal.
A late flurry in the half saw Notts County saw the game burst into life however, as they began to create chances and Dale looked to respond. This started with a curling Gary Jones free kick from 20 yards after Ashley Eastham was judged to have fouled his man. Jones did well to keep his effort up from sailing over the bar but Lillis got across goal well to parry the effort away. Ashley Eastham was then on hand to get his body in the way of the follow-up to keep the scores level.
A minute later and Notts County did manage to find the back of the net through Mike Edwards. County were able to break away down the right wing before Elliot Whitehouse delivered an early, low ball into the path of Edwards who, with the Dale defence backtracking, was able to fire past Lillis from close range.
Dale weren't without chances of their own, however, and as the game drew towards the interval, Michael Rose came within inches of spectacularly finding the equaliser. The ball was played into the feet of Henderson in a central position but with his back to goal he opted to lay the ball back to Rose. He unleashed a powerful first-time drive from 35 yards but saw his effort rocket agonisingly wide of the upright with Roy Carroll watching on in hope in the county goal.
HALF TIME: Rochdale 0-1 Notts County
If the early exchanges of the first half were agony for Dale, the opening of the second half was ecstasy as they drew level just 19 seconds into the half. Stephen Dawson took control of the ball excellently after it was sent upfield from the kick off, knocking the ball over the rash challenge of the defender. He then cut back on himself inside the area, deceiving the next defender and drawing the foul but before the referee could consider giving a penalty, the ball fell to Ian Henderson who cooly stroked the ball home.
This put fire into the Rochdale side who looked rejuvenated went on to dominate the half. O'Connell battled relentlessly on the left to win a corner which would have led to Dale taking the lead but for a superb piece of goalkeeping from Roy Carroll. The ball was whipped in by Michael Rose and met powerfully by the head of Vincenti but The Notts County goalkeeper showered fantastic reflexes to throw an arm into the path of the ball and tip it over.
Dale and Vincenti didn't have to wait much longer however, as four minutes later, Carroll could get nowhere near his headed effort as it nestled in the back of the net. Stephen Dawson linked up well with Matty Done on the left of the box to work space for the a cross which found the run of the unmarked Vincenti at the back post who nodded the ball home with ease.
It was more quick play down the left which led to Dale's next chance as Done flashed an effort over the bar. One touch play between Dawson, O'Connell and Done soon found The Dale forward just inside the box on the left hand side. He got under his effort as he hit it first time however, and it flashed narrowly over the bar with Carroll beaten.
The match ended in controversy as Notts County found an equaliser with virtually the last kick of the game, putting the ball into an empty net after Lillis was laid out on the ground following a foul that wasn’t given and two offsides in the run up to the goal missed. The ball was sent into area from a deep free kick but headed half clear by the Dale defence. But as the ball was headed back into the area, Lillis was clattered by a Notts player on the edge of his six yard box. As everybody around stopped for the free-kick, Garry Thompson slotted the ball into the unguarded goal, and the referee indicated it would stand, to the stunned silence and confusion around the ground.
FULL TIME: Rochdale 2-2 Notts County
Man of the Match: Matty Done