Rochdale fell to their first defeat in six on Saturday as they went down 1-0 against Port Vale at Vale Park.
A second half strike from Michael Brown was the difference between the two sides.
There were four changes to the eleven that lined up against Northampton Town at Sixfields last weekend. Jack O’Connell, who was ineligible for the FA Cup tie, returned to the Dale defence, replacing Olly Lancashire who dropped to the bench. Joe Rafferty was also named in the eleven, as were Jamie Allen and Calvin Andrew. The suspended Ian Henderson missed out completely, while Bastien Hery was named as a substitute, as was Matty Lund, who was away on international duty with Northern Ireland on Friday night.
Rochdale were dominant during the opening exchanges, creating all of the opportunities, while looking comfortable at the back.
In a high tempo display, Dale started excellently and within the first two minutes of the match, Calvin Andrew sent a glancing header wide of the target after getting on the end of a Matty Done cross.
Five minutes later, Michael Rose fired a thunderous effort goal wards from 30-yards – his strike rising as it narrowly cleared the bar.
But it was in the 13th minute that Rochdale had their best opportunity of the half. Rhys Bennett clipped an excellent ball into the area for the unmarked Andrew, who headed just wide of the target.
Conrad Logan hadn’t had a save to make yet, but in the 16th minute he was called action as he pulled off an excellent stop to deny the home side. An Adam Yates low drive was firstly blocked inside a packed box, and as a scramble ensued, Logan kept out a follow up effort from Dany N’Guessan while sprawled on the grounded.
The chance gave the Valiants an added impetuous and they proved to be more of threat as the half continued, however their opportunities were limited as Dale defended excellently as a team. Port Vale’s most notable effort coming in the 27th minute when N’Guessan curled an effort wide of the target.
And as the half approached the interval both sides had excellent chances to open the scoring, though.
In the 41st minute Allen’s powerful effort stunned Chris Neal. The ‘keeper spilled Allen’s strike at the first time of asking, before scrambling to collect.
In stoppage time, the Valiants were awarded a free-kick right on the edge of the area and Mark Marshall’s set–piece dropped just over the bar.
HT: PORT VALE 0-0 ROCHDALE
The home side started the second half on the front foot as they put Dale under plenty of pressure, but they failed to truly test Logan during that spell, and it was Rochdale who had the first real opportunity of the half, in the 52nd minute. Allen sent a dipping effort goal-wards, which was kept out by an excellent finger-tip save by the ‘keeper.
Port Vale went on to open the scoring shortly after the hour mark.
Yates powered up the right hand side of play, before delivering a ball into the area, which was headed away by Jack O’Connell as far as Michael Brown who lashed an excellent volley beyond Logan.
GOAL: PORT VALE 1-0 ROCHDALE (Brown, 64 minutes)
A double change soon followed for Dale as Reuben Noble-Lazarus and Jack Muldoon replaced Rose and Rafferty. The Valiants also made a switch, with N’Guessan making way for Ben Williamson.
And immediately after the substitutions, Port Vale were handed a glorious opportunity as Tanser played a short back pass to Logan, which was intercepted by Williamson. He was left with an open goal, but failed to find the target as he sent his effort the wrong side of the upright.
In the closing stages Dale ramped up the pressure as they went in search of an equaliser, but they were unable to find a way past Neal. Most notably, a cross from Bennett was snatched by Neal, who had to use the post to stop himself falling back over the line, while in the dying seconds, Noble-Lazarus sent a powerful effort just over the bar.
FT: Port Vale 1-0 Rochdale
CLOSE: RNL sends an effort just over the bar!#RAFC