Dale were beaten 1-0 by Sheffield United after a cruel deflection gave them all three points seven minutes from full-time.
Dale were comfortable throughout a goalless first half, and were inches away from taking the lead in the second half when Ian Henderson struck the bar with superb half volley.
But Jamal Campbell-Ryce’s cross was deflected over everyone including Conrad Logan, to see Dale leave empty handed.
Keith Hill made one change to the side that won 4-0 at Crawley Town last Saturday. Rhys Bennett came into the side in place of Bastien Hery, who dropped to the bench.
Hill’s side could have got off to the best possible start through Ian Henderson, but he didn’t connect properly on the half volley from Matt Done’s left wing cross.
The home side had their first chance just a minute later, when Jose Baxter flicked over Ben Davies’ free kick from the left channel.
The game was struggling to get going for the first 20 minutes as both sides felt their way into the game. It was Dale who settled quickest, with another Done cross from the left causing trouble for Blades’ goalkeeper Mark Howard.
Dale continued to apply pressure as Bennett found space on the edge of the area, and his shot was deflected out for a corner. Scott Tanser took it, but Henderson’s header flew wide of the near post.
Stephen Dawson was next to try his luck, but this time his deflected effort was comfortably collected by Howard.
The home side responded around the half hour mark with a spell of pressure of their own. Jamal Campbell-Ryce, who was causing Dale problems down the left, crossed dangerously, which required a glancing header from Ashley Eastham to send it wide and out for a corner.
Striker Jamie Murphy had an effort from the edge of the area which flew wide of the far post, before Baxter came closer with a driven shot from 20 yards.
Dale were comfortable on the whole though, with the back four which had kept a clean sheet in the last two games keeping the home side at bay. However, there was a change at right-back just before half-time, as Tom Kennedy replaced Joe Rafferty, who had been yellow carded earlier for a foul on Campbell-Ryce.
Campbell-Ryce was involved again after the break when he ran almost the full length of the field, before curling wide of Logan’s left post.
Peter Vincenti and Done had efforts from distance which went harmlessly wide of Howard’s goal. Conrad Logan was the first to goalkeeper to make a second half save, when he collected former Dale loanee Chris Basham’s header.
Logan had to be alert again in the 66th minute, when Neill Collins headed Baxter’s corner straight at him.
The Dale defence was holding strong as the 18,000 strong home crowd got behind their side, but it was the 791 travelling fans who saw their side strike the crossbar.
Vincenti flicked on a Logan kick, which Henderson chested down before crashing a half volley against the bar.
The visiting fans and players were then shouting for handball when Henderson appeared to flick the ball onto the arm of a defender, but referee Gary Sutton waved away the claims.
Sutton then gave a soft free-kick to the home side on the edge of the area when Jack O’Connell pushed the Blades attacker to the floor, but Baxter’s free-kick was straight at Logan.
The Dale stopper had his positioning spot on all game, and once again found the ball flying straight to him when O’Connell deflected a cross into his path.
However, he was helpless to prevent Sheffield United taking the lead in the 83rd minute. Campbell-Ryce picked up a back post corner and crossed. It deflected off Stephen Dawson, looped over everyone including Logan, and into the back of the net.
It was very harsh on Dale who had defended superbly until then, and forced Hill to make two changes. Off went Bennett and Jamie Allen, and on came Shamir Fenelon and Calvin Andrew.
Substitute Ryan Flynn shot wide of Logan’s right post as the home side tried to make the game safe.
Dale were desperately looking for a route to goal, and in the 90th minute Vincenti almost headed an equaliser after a fine cross from Dawson, but Howard dived to his left and held.
Three minutes of added time were signalled, but Dale couldn’t find a way through and left Bramhall Lane empty handed, after a performance which merited more.