Ten-man Dale battled bravely but were beaten 2-0 by Portsmouth on the opening day of the season at Fratton Park.
Keith Keane saw red midway through a goalless first half when he brought down Conor Chaplin as last man.
Brett Pitman opened the scoring in the first minute of the second half, but Dale battled well with a man down, before Jamal Lowe was sent off nine minutes from time for a dangerous tackle on Jamie Allen.
Keith Hill’s side couldn’t find an equaliser despite great pressure, and Pitman bagged his second of the game with an injury time header.
The first effort of the game fell Dale’s way inside the opening two minutes, when Ollie Rathbone laid the ball off to Jamie Allen. He struck first time, with the effort just rising over the crossbar.
Christian Burgess had the home side’s first attempt when he dragged a snap shot wide from the edge of the area, but those were the only two strikes at goal in the opening exchanges.
The main talking point of the first half was the dismissal of Keane. Chaplin broke through from the halfway line, and as Keane came across he clipped Chaplin just outside the area. The Dale defender was last man, and although he was trying to pull out of making a challenge, referee Lee Probert showed him the red card.
Dale had edged the game until that point, and they reacted well to going down to ten men. The home side’s only efforts at goal came from set-pieces, when Burgess had a header deflected wide, before Brett Pitman glanced the resulting corner wide of the far post.
Josh Lillis was forced into his first save of the afternoon when a corner was cleared as far as Danny Rose on the edge of the area, whose half volley was comfortably patted down and held by the Dale stopper.
The second half got off to the worst possible start for Dale, as Portsmouth broke the deadlock inside the first minute. Pitman came into the area from the left side and had his first effort blocked by Jim McNulty, but the ball broke for him again to curl home low into the far corner.
He had a chance to double the lead just a minute later, when substitute Jamal Lowe’s cross to the far post was met by the goal scorer, but sliding in he turned his effort well over.
Dale’s first chance of the half came from a nice ball forward from Rathbone to Ian Henderson, who cut inside and had a shot blocked from the edge of the area. The rebound fell to Rathbone outside the box, who shot wide.
Keith Hill made a double substitution just before the hour mark, bringing on Matt Done for his third debut with the Club, and Joe Rafferty, in place of Calvin Andrew and Callum Camps.
Andy Cannon headed a corner wide and Rafferty fired an ambitious effort off target as the ten men of Dale began to grow in confidence.
Lillis was almost caught out when he rushed out of his area to bring down a ball forward, and was dispossessed as he went to clear. The ball fell to Lowe, but his lob dropped wide of the upright.
Cannon was replaced by Steven Davies with Dale’s final substitution with fifteen minutes remaining.
Kyle Bennett had a great chance to seal the game for the hosts when played in by Lowe, but curled his effort well over the crossbar.
Then came the second red card of the afternoon. Allen picked up a loose ball in the Pompey half, but was caught by a late and high challenge from Lowe. Referee Probert showed no hesitation in producing the red card.
After a stoppage in play for treatment to Allen, who was okay to play on, Brown’s low free-kick was collected by Luke McGee at the second attempt.
Dale pushed forward in search of an equaliser, but it was the hosts who bagged the next goal to seal the three points in injury time.
A cross from the right side was met by the head of Pitman, looping a fine effort into the far corner over Lillis.
He fired over from distance in the final minute in search of a hat-trick, but his brace proved to be the difference at Fratton Park.