Oxford United 1-0 Rochdale
A late goal from Liam Sercombe denied Dale at least a deserved point at the Kassam Stadium.
The midfielder stole into area in the 88th minute to steal all three points for the home side, after Dale had chances to win the game themselves.
Keith Hill’s men dominated the first half but couldn’t find a way through, whilst Niall Canavan hit the woodwork and Peter Vincenti put an effort inches wide late on in the second half.
However, two minutes from time the home side struck to continue Dale’s luckless start to the season.
Keith Hill made two changes from last week’s last gasp draw against AFC Wimbledon as Joe Rafferty and Sanmi Odelusi returned in place of Donal McDermott and Matty Lund, who earned a second international call-up to the Northern Ireland squad. Keith Keane, who joined on loan from Cambridge United on transfer deadline day, was amongst the substitutes.
In contrast to the dismal conditions at the Kassam Stadium, Dale started brightly and dominated possession in the opening stages. Andy Cannon could have added to his early season goal rush in the fourth minute when he met Nathaniel Menez-Laing’s cross from the left, but sliding in at the back post he sent the ball over the crossbar.
The home side’s first chance fell to Kane Hemmings when he turned Chris Maguire’s scuffed shot goalwards, but Conrad Logan was out quickly to smother the effort at source.
Steven Davies saw a half volley driver over from 25 yards, before home goalkeeper Simon Eastwood spilled a Mendez-Laing shot which was cleared before Davies had chance to put home the rebound.
Odelusi and Jamie Allen sent efforts wide as Dale tried to capitalise on their possession, whilst at the other end Logan had to react quickly again when he closed down a Wes Thomas shot after the striker had been played through into the area.
From the resulting corner Dale broke superbly through Ian Henderson, who drove over the halfway line and found Cannon in his stride to the right. The midfielder took a couple of touches before fizzing an effort just wide of Eastwood’s left post.
The home side had a couple of chances from a succession of corners as the half came to a close, with Chey Dunkley and former Dale man Phil Edwards heading over.
The second half continued to be played under the driving rain as the home side created the majority of the chances early on. Sercombe dragged a shot well wide, whilst Maguire, substitute Marvin Johnson and striker Thomas had headers which didn’t test Logan.
Allen sent a half volley over crossbar, before Keith Hill made two changes with McDermott replacing Cannon who had picked up a knock, and Joe Bunney replacing Odelusi.
Maguire had an ambitious effort from a free-kick punched away by Logan, with the ball swerving and bouncing in front of the Dale stopper in the slippery conditions.
His opposite number Eastwood equalled that moments later when he fisted away a Mendez-Laing effort. The winger was picked out well by Bunney and fired a shot goalwards after cutting inside onto his right foot, but the goalkeeper punched clear and Dale won a corner, from which they were inches away from taking the lead.
McDermott’s outswinger was flicked on by Harrison McGahey to the back post where Canavan stretched a leg out, but his effort cannoned back of the woodwork and clear of danger.
Vincenti made his first appearance of the season, replacing Davies to a great reception from the travelling Dale supporters.
He was almost the hero for Dale when he had a chance to put his side ahead three minutes from time. Mendez-Laing found Henderson on the edge area, who flicked the ball over the defence into path of Vincenti, but sliding in his effort rolled agonisingly the wrong side of the post.
Just a minute later Dale were struck with the sucker punch. A cross from the left squirmed its way through bodies at the near post to the onrunning Sercombe, who had an easy tap in inside the six yard box.
Dale piled forward in search of an equaliser late on but couldn’t find an opening. Johnson could have made it two as he broke with all of the Dale men forward, but sent his shot into the side netting with the last kick of the game.