Dale were defeated 2-0 by Doncaster Rovers at the Keepmoat Stadium, as 16-year-old Daniel Adshead made his EFL debut.
Ben Whiteman’s superb strike gave the hosts the lead four minutes in, before Alfie May’s deflected strike doubled their lead going into the break.
Dale created a number of chances in the second half, but were denied on a number of occasions by Rovers’ stopper Ian Lawlor, who ensured his side claimed all three points.
Keith Hill made one change from the Boxing Day encounter at Blackburn Rovers, as Andy Cannon replaced Jordan Williams.
Dale got off to the worst possible start when Rovers broke the deadlock after just four minutes, thanks to a stunning strike.
A bouncing ball on the edge of the area fell to Whiteman, and he unleashed a superb left-foot half-volley which arrowed into Josh Lillis’ top left corner.
The Dale stopper had to be alert two minutes later to deny Niall Mason’s effort, which he held on to after the ball had broke to the Rovers full-back.
Andy Butler saw a back-post header nodded off the line by Camps, before the ball was eventually sent back in to James Coppinger, whose low effort across goal drifted past the far post.
Matty Done, who moved to left-back, had Dale’s first effort of the game when he found by Joe Bunney on the left of the area, but his effort from a tight angle was turned behind by Lawlor in the Rovers goal.
Dale’s best chance of the opening period fell to Cannon in the 26th minute. Keith Keane found Ian Henderson on the right inside the full-back, who crossed with the outside of his foot.
Cannon came in at the back-post, but from close range could only turn the ball over the crossbar.
Dale would be made to rue the missed chance just a minute later, when Doncaster doubled their lead.
May picked up the ball on the right corner of the Dale box, and his shot took a big deflection off Ntlhe, deceiving Lillis and looping in at the near post.
Hill responded with an attacking substitution, bringing on striker Calvin Andrew in place of Keane who had been sat in front of the back four.
Done sent a back-post header over from McGahey’s right-wing cross, and Cannon’s acrobatic effort was on target but lacked power as Dale searched to half the deficit.
The visitors started the second-half brightly, and Rovers stopper Lawlor ensured his side maintained their two-goal cushion on a number of occasions.
Firstly, he palmed away Henderson’s well struck volley from outside the area, but only as far as Cannon who turned the ball back across goal to Andrew, whose touch goalwards was held by the goalkeeper.
He then denied Cannon after the Dale man had been found by Henderson on the right side of the area, turned his low effort behind for a corner.
Done then found Bunney with a cushioned ball over the top of the defence, but the striker’s effort flashed wide as Lawlor came racing out of his goal to block.
That would be Bunney’s last act, as he was then replaced by Steven Davies shortly after the hour mark.
A well worked free-kick saw a short ball played to Cannon on the right edge of the area, who crossed towards the back-post.
Lawlor clawed the ball away from under his crossbar, before it was sent back across goal where Henderson couldn’t quite make contact with the ball to send it goalwards.
Ollie Rathbone saw an effort from outside the area held by Lawlor, shortly before 16-year-old Adshead made his EFL debut, replacing Davies.
Cannon and Andrew saw efforts fly wide as Dale pushed on until the end, but they couldn’t find the goal that would set-up a tense finale.