Rochdale secured an excellent point from a hard fought out draw with Fleetwood Town on Saturday to remain top of the Sky Bet League Two table.
The game at the Highbury Stadium finished goalless, earning Dale their fourth consecutive clean sheet in a five game unbeaten run.
Manager Keith Hill named the same eleven who started in Tuesday night’s win over Portsmouth, and there was some good news on the injury front as Captain Peter Cavanagh and Ashley Eastham were named amongst the substitutes. Bastien Hery and Scott Tanser made way for the pair.
Both teams saw plenty of the ball during the opening exchanges, however neither side was able to get a foot hold on the hard fought encounter.
Dale had the first opportunity of the half, though, after Ian Henderson raced onto a long ball down the line in the seventh minute. Hendo attempted to round Chris Maxwell, but the ‘keeper, who had committed himself by coming for the ball, pulled off a timely save to prevent Henderson getting a shot away.
As the half progressed Dale employed their usual patient build up play as they looked to break down a stubborn Fleetwood, while the home side looked to hit Rochdale on the break.
With 16 minutes on the clock, Iain Hume latched onto a ball, which split the Dale defence, but he was flagged offside as his effort hit the back of the net.
Two minutes later, and Jamie Allen tested Maxwell as he fired a low drive at the ‘keeper, but it was Fleetwood who had two opportunities in quick succession to open the scoring.
In the 23 minute Antoni Sarcevic should have done better as he was sent through on goal from a Cod Army breakaway, however he could only drag his shot wide of the target.
Sarcevic was given sight on goal moments later after a David Ball cross from the right hand side was pulled back into the path of the striker. He fired over the bar from seven yards.
The chances for the home side appeared to give Rochdale extra impetus and they finished the half brightly. Dale applied a wave of pressure on Fleetwood, but a resolute Cod Army defence repelled the danger.
HT: FLEETWOOD TOWN 0-0 ROCHDALE
There were no changes for either side at the interval.
The start of the second half produced a hard fought out affair for Dale, with the home side re-buffing every Dale attack, by closing Rochdale down and giving them no time of the ball.
Dale had an opportunity, though, when in the 54th minute Lund was denied by the woodwork. Rafferty had powered up the right hand side of play, before crossing deep towards the back post. Henderson headed back across the face of goal for Lund, whose over-head kick was kept out by the upright.
Shortly before the hour mark Hume was allowed in on goal after a long ball forward was missed by Lancashire, and Lillis, who had come to clear, slipped. The ‘keeper did exceptionally well to recover to intercept.
In the 70th minute Joe Bunney was introduced onto the field of play, replacing Donnelly. Fleetwood’s first substitution followed two minutes later with Sarcevic making way for Jon Parkin.
After the change the home side were awarded a free-kick and as Dale cleared, they broke on the counter attack. Bunney raced forward, but as he got inside the area, he went for goal instead of picking out Henderson or Lund, who had matched his run, and the strike went across the face of goal and out of play.
A minute later and an excellent save from Lillis denied Matty Blair. His effort looked destined for the top corner of the net, but the ‘keeper kept him out with a two handed save to turn the ball behind.
Dale’s second substitution of the match followed, with Cavangh replacing Michael Rose.
Rochdale continued to press and they had two further opportunities.
Lund firstly hit over the bar from distance, before a lively Bunney beat his marker on the right hand flank allowing him to cut inside. The young striker sent a ball across the face of goal, which was fractionally missed by Henderson, who had come sliding in at the back post.
The 86th minute saw Jason Kennedy replaced by Allen, in Dale’s final substitution of the game.
In the closing stages Rochdale looked like only team likely to score, but they were unable to find a way past a well organised Fleetwood side.
It finished Fleetwood Town 0, Rochdale 0.