Rochdale continued their preparations for the 2014/15 campaign with a home friendly against Bolton Wanderers on Tuesday night.
The visitors ran out 2-0 winners thanks to Neil Danns and Connor Wilkinson, a scoreline which arguably didn’t reflect the overall play.
Manager Keith Hill made eight changes to the eleven who started against Wigan Athletic on Saturday.
Johny Diba was handed his first start at Spotland, while Ashley Eastham skippered the side. There was also a place in the line-up for Sean McGinty, Andy Cannon, Callum Camps, Peter Vincenti, Joe Bunney and Michael Rose. Former Bolton Wanderers apprentice Rhys Bennett, Matty Done and Bastien Hery completed the starting eleven.
Twelve substitutes were named amongst the squad, including two unnamed trialists.
The weather was a far cry from the torrential down pours which battered Rochdale at the weekend, as Spotland basked in the evening sunshine.
Dale started the match at a good tempo, enjoying plenty of possession during the opening exchanges, but it was the visitors who had the first half chance of the game, before going on to take the lead. Jermaine Beckford was through on goal in the 11th minute, but was his effort was blocked the legs of Eastham.
Keith Hill’s side continued to have the edge as they looked to work an opening with slick passing football, but found themselves a goal down in the 22nd minute. Neil Danns cut in from the right wing before firing a low shot from the edge of the area. He found the bottom corner excellently, and despite Diba getting his fingertips to it, he couldn't keep the ball out of the net.
GOAL: ROCHDALE 0-1 BOLTON WANDERERS (Danns, 22 mins)
Despite falling behind, Dale continued in a positive fashion and had opportunities to level the scoring.
Eastham found himself with an excellent chance from a Rose free kick. Joe Bunney was fouled after some dogged work down the left hand side, riding several challenges before the referee pulled play back for the foul. Rose's free kick found Eastham inside the box but he could only pull his header back, tamely across goal.
Good short passing and movement through the middle bought Rochdale two chances in quick succession. Peter Vincenti was first to challenge Lonergan with a powerful drive from long range stinging the Bolton keepers palms. Two minutes later, Bunney saw his curled effort from the edge of the area float narrowly over the crossbar.
The first substitution of the match followed on 37 minutes as Joe Rafferty replaced Bennett.
Both teams had opportunities in the closing stages of the half. Rafferty did well to swing a cross into the area after digging deep, but the awaiting Camps was unable to control the ball properly and his shot skipped over the bar.
On the stroke of time, Bolton had the ball in the back of the net for a second time but it was ruled out for offside. After the ball was worked into the area, Liam Feeney's shot hit the post and fell kindly for Robert Hall to put the ball in the back of the net. The assistant referee's flag denied Hall.
HALF TIME: Rochdale 0-1 Bolton Wanderers
There was one further change for Dale at the interval as Scott Tanser was introduced in place of Done.
The high tempo continued after the break and Dale saw two chances skip past the upright. In the 56th minute Vincenti fired a powerful effort narrowly past the post, before Rose came within inches of levelling the scoring on the hour mark with a shot from distance.
Another substitution followed three minutes later for Dale, with a trialist replacing Bunney. Five minutes later and Camps, who sustained a cut to his eye, was replaced by Joel Logan.
Logan had been on the pitch just six minutes when he rattled a powerful effort from 20-yards just a narrowly over the bar.
Hery too saw a shot from distance fall off target, his effort from outside the area skipped past the upright.
Dale were having all the opportunities, but couldn’t find that cutting edge, and Bolton went on to extend their lead in the 77th minute from what was their first shot on goal of the half. Connor Wilkinson opened up the two goal advantage with a powerful low effort which he fired into the corner of the net from the edge of the area.
GOAL: Rochdale 0-2 Bolton Wanderers (Wilkinson, 77 mins)
In the 85th minute Rochdale had another opportunity to net the goal they deserved, but again could only steer an effort wide of the target. It was their best chance of the game and this time it fell to the trialist. Tanser delivered a delightful in-swinging ball from the edge of the Bolton box which evaded all the defenders. This was met with a sweet contact from a diving header but what would have been a superb finish went agonisingly over the bar.
Two minutes later Diba pulled off a fantastic stop to tip a low powerful effort from Danns round the upright, before Raffery denied the visitors on the line from the resulting corner.
It finished Rochdale 0, Bolton Wanderers 2.