There was lots of possession for Dale in the second half but they couldn’t find a way through, as their Johnstone’s Paint Trophy campaign came to an end.
Keith Hill made four changes from the FA Cup victory over Swindon Town. Joel Castro Pereira came in ahead of Josh Lillis between the sticks, with Rhys Bennett, Donal McDermott and Calvin Andrew all coming into the side. Callum Camps, Peter Vincenti and Joe Bunney dropped out.
The opening stages were quiet but well fought against a Morecambe side who had already beaten two League One clubs to reach this stage of the competition.
Andy Cannon came closest for Dale with a drilled effort past the post as he came forward from right back, but it was the visitors who went ahead in the 17th minute.
A corner from the Morecambe left was only half cleared, and when it was turned back into the area Mullin neatly flashed a finish past a helpless Castro Pereira.
The Shrimps had made a positive start despite five changes from their game at the weekend, and the opening goal filled them with even more confidence. Only an effort from Andrew caused them problems after he brought down Michael Rose’s diagonal ball superbly, his effort curling wide of the far post.
Goalscorer Mullin had a couple of tame efforts saved by Castro Pereira, before he had a golden chance to double his tally from the penalty spot.
Jim McNulty brought down Aaron Wildig just inside the area, but Mullin’s penalty was poor. Castro Pereira guessed correctly and saved low to his right, collecting the ball before the onrushing Morecambe players could bundle it home.
McNulty, who had already been booked for an earlier challenge, was replaced by Tom Kennedy just five minutes later, with Keith Hill obviously worried about the defender picking up a second yellow.
McDermott fired harmlessly wide as Dale looked for an equaliser before the break, whilst Wildig’s rising effort was stopped by Castro Pereira in the last action of the first half.
Lewis Alessandra came on at the interval in place of Matthew Lund, with Rhys Bennett – making his first start since the 18th August – shifting to holding midfield.
Dale were looking to get back into the game as early as possible, and had a great chance to equalise just five minutes in. Andrew found Saturday’s hat-trick hero Mendez-Laing on the left, and after showing his quick feet found McDermott with a lay off. However, the Irishman blazed his left foot effort well over the crossbar.
Keith Hill made his third and final substitution just after the hour mark, giving a debut to John Ayina, who replaced McDermott.
The visitors were happier to sit back in the second half and try to hit Dale on the counter. This saw possession dominated by the home side, but chances were difficult to carve out.
Rose had a free-kick well saved by Roche, before his corner kick found the head of Bennett who guided just wide. Mendez-Laing, Dale’s liveliest attacker on the night, had an effort saved after cutting in from the right side.
Morecambe should have doubled their lead and sealed the game with three minutes remaining, when Kevin Ellison’s header found fellow substitute Shaun Miller, but he fired a glorious opportunity wide when one-on-one with Castro Pereira.
Mendez-Laing fired wide after Rose’s short free-kick with Dale’s last chance of the game, and even Castro Pereira couldn’t make a difference when he went forward for a corner in the four minutes of added time.
Dale became Morecambe’s third League One scalp in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy as they progressed to the area semi-finals. For Keith Hill’s men it is focus back on the league as Wigan come to Spotland on Saturday, with the game being broadcast live on Sky Sports One, kick off at 12:30.
Dale: Castro Pereira, Bennett, McNulty, Eastham, Lund, Andrew, McDermott, Tanser, Mendez-Laing, Rose, Cannon.
Subs: Lillis, Lancashire, Alessandra, Ayina, Kennedy.
Morecambe: Roche, McGowan, Kenyon, Edwards, Devitt, Molyneux, Mullin, Wildig, Fleming, Wilson, Parrish.
Subs: Thompson, Barkhuizen, Ellison, Goodall, Miller.