Rochdale bowed out of the FA Cup on Saturday, despite a spirited performance against Sheffield Wednesday in the fourth round of the competition at Spotland.
The sides had gone into the interval yet to break the deadlock, but the Owls were first to respond after the re-start and they opened the scoring through Joe Mattock in the 48th minute.
The visitors doubled their advantage nine minutes later thanks to Oguchi Onyewu, before Michael Rose halved the deficit shortly after the hour mark. Sheffield Wednesday were reduced to ten men two minutes later, but despite a valiant effort from Dale, they were unable to carve out an equaliser against a resolute Owls side.
Manager Keith Hill made five changes for the tie - Ashley Eastham, Rhys Bennett, Michael Rose, Peter Vincenti and Jamie Allen were started ahead of the injured Olly Lancashire, Joe Rafferty, Graham Cummins, Joe Bunney and Gary Dicker who left the club on Thursday after his short-term contract expired.
It was a cold and wet day in Rochdale, but praise must go to the ground staff who ensured the game went ahead, despite torrential rain in the hours leading up to kick-off.
The conditions added zip to the pitch, which in turn allowed both teams to get the ball down and play, in what was a high tempo affair.
There was plenty energy from the two teams, but it was Sheffield Wednesday who tested first.
In the fourth minute, Josh Lillis was quick to react to deny Caolan Lavery who was handed a fortuitous opportunity as a Dale clearance ricocheted forward off an Owl player and into the path of the frontman. Lillis was quick off his line to smother the danger and keep out Lavery.
With a quarter of an hour played, the best chance of the half so far fell for the visitors inside the area, but fortunately for Dale, Lavery who only had Lillis to beat, lost his footing and he was unable to get a vital touch on the ball to send it past the ‘keeper, before Matty Lund intercepted.
Much of Wednesday’s early threat had come through the after play of set-pieces, but as the game settled, Rochdale began to enjoy much of the momentum as they took the game to the visitors.
In the 19th minute, Peter Vincenti had Dale’s first opportunity of the half. He rose highest to head a Michael Rose cross goal wards, but could only glance the header narrowly wide of the upright.
Dale were building, as they looked to carve an opening against their Championship opposition, and in the 35th minute Matty Done was kept out by a timely block from Damian Martinez. Done, who was again in the left back position, powered down the flank, before sending the ball beyond his marker and outpacing the Owls defender. He sent the ball into the box for Hogan, who in turn played Done through one on one with the ‘keeper. Martinez was there to block before the full-back was able to get an effective shot away.
It was relatively even in the period up until half time as both teams dug deep to find an opening, but it was Wednesday who came closest to taking the lead, with two opportunities in stoppage time.
Oguchi Onyewu was firstly kept out as his header from a corner was pushed onto the post by Lillis, before the ‘keeper got a vital touch to send an effort from Jacques Magohoma round the post just a minute later.
HT: Rochdale 0-0 Sheffield Wednesday
There were no changes at the interval for either side.
Rochdale started the half brightly, but found themselves behind three minutes after the re-start.
Chris Maguire’s corner ball, which was whipped into a packed box, was met by the head of Onyewu and flicked into the mix. Joe Mattock managed to get a decisive touch to send the ball beyond Lillis.
GOAL: Rochdale 0-1 Sheffield Wednesday (Mattock, 48 minutes)
Nine minutes later the visitors doubled their advantage, again from a corner ball.
Onyewu had an initial effort blocked on the line, but the re-bound fell for the Onyewu and he smashed home the follow up to extend the Owls’ lead.
GOAL: Rochdale 0-2 Sheffield Wednesday (Onyewu, 57 minutes)
Dale’s first substitution off the match followed two minutes later as Jamie Allen made for George Donnelly.
Despite Sheffield Wednesday opening up a two goal lead, Rochdale retained their belief and on the hour mark Ian Henderson had a stunning free-kick tipped over the cross bar by Martinez.
And it was from the resulting corner that Dale halved the deficit. The ball was swung into the box and cleared as far as Rose, who was around 25-yards from goal. He took a touch before smashing it past the ‘keeper to give Dale a life line.
GOAL: Rochdale 1-2 Sheffield Wednesday (Rose, 61 minutes)
The goal gave Dale added impetus and they continued to apply the pressure on the visitors’ goal as they looked to carve an opening for an equaliser.
And with Dale pressing, Sheffield Wednesday were reduced to ten men as Henderson was upended as he drove through on goal.
Mattock was penalised for the foul and was giving his marching orders after receiving his second yellow cards of the game.
Rose took the free-kick and was kept out by Martinez, who tipped the set-piece over the bar.
Dale’s second substitution soon followed, with Graham Cummins replacing Vincenti in the 66th minute.
As the half progressed, Dale continued to build, but were kept out in the final third by a resolute Owls defence. With Rochdale retaining the ball for long spells, Wednesday’s threats came via set pieces, and it was from a corner that they again came close. The ball was whipped towards the back post, but unlike the opening goal, there was no-one there to get a decisive touch, and it skipped just inches wide of the upright.
In the 75th minute Callum Camps, a product of Dale’s youth system, was introduced onto the field of play – Vincenti making way for the youngster.
Rochdale continued to enjoy plenty of possession, but despite some desperate defending from Sheffield Wednesday, Dale were unable to find a way through.
Wednesday were looking to catch Dale on the break, and in the 88th minute, despite Rose being pushed to the ground as he won the ball, the visitors were allowed to continue their attack into the box and there were appeals from for a penalty as Lee stumbled to ground easily. The referee was quick to way away the protests.
Rochdale, as they had done throughout the half, continued to throw everything at Sheffield Wednesday.
And in the 90th minute, Hogan was denied at the near post by Martinez, who got down low to smother an effort from the striker.
Five minutes of stoppage time were played out, but there was to be no dramatic late come-back for Dale, and it finished Rochdale 1-2 Sheffield Wednesday.