Rochdale bowed out of the Emirates FA Cup at the fourth round stage, despite a spirited performance against Huddersfield Town at the Crown Oil Arena.
It was the third time in four seasons that Dale have reached the fourth round, and they started well against a high-flying Championship side.
However, Collin Quaner’s goal just before half-time saw Dale undeservedly trail at the break, before clinical finishing from the visitors in the second half took the game away from them.
Izzy Brown converted a penalty, before a brace from Michael Hefele in the final 20 minutes sealed Huddersfield’s passage through to the fifth round with a 4-0 win.
Keith Hill made three changes from last weekend’s defeat to Oxford, as Keith Keane, Reuben Noble-Lazarus and Peter Vincenti all started – Vincenti making his first start since September.
The atmosphere inside the Crown Oil Arena was intense as the game kicked off, and Dale started on the front foot intending to take the game to their Championship opponents.
However, before either side could get into their stride, there was a lengthy stoppage in play due to an injury to Calvin Andrew. He came off worse in an aerial challenge with Huddersfield Captain Mark Hudson, and had to leave the action early.
He was replaced by Mark Kitching, who only joined Dale on loan from Middlesbrough yesterday. He came into midfield and was involved straight away, clearing the ball behind before Brown had the chance to strike at goal.
Dale’s first chance of the match came 20 minutes in. A corner was cleared to Noble-Lazarus at the far edge of the area, where he sent a delicious cross over to Vincenti. However, from six yards out the Jersey man headed over the crossbar.
As the rain started to fall heavily, a short back-pass from Hudson was seized upon by Ian Henderson. His touch took him around goalkeeper Joel Coleman, but from the corner of the area his shot rolled wide of the near post.
Just moments later a flowing Dale move caught Huddersfield on the hop again. Jamie Allen tried to feed Noble-Lazarus through the centre, only to see Coleman race off his line to get to the ball. However, there were huge appeals for handball against the Terriers stopper, turned down by referee Oliver Langford.
The closing minutes of the half saw the visitors create their first real chances of the game, forcing Conrad Logan into a save when Phil Billing’s left foot shot was parried into the path of Quaner, who fired the rebound well over.
Hudson fired a half volley over from inside the area after a free-kick had found its way through to him, but just a minute later the visitors took the lead.
Logan’s goal kick was pounced upon by the Huddersfield midfield and fed through to Brown, who broke into the box and squared to Quaner for a simple tap-in.
The second half started in much the same vain as the first, as Dale came quickly out of the blocks trying to level up the cup tie.
Keith Hill’s men played their way into some good attacking positions but couldn’t find a final ball or attempt at goal to find a breakthrough.
The task was made doubly difficult midway through the second period when the visitors were awarded a penalty, after Hudson was brought down as a corner kick was swung in.
Brown stepped up and sent Logan the wrong way, to double the Terrier’s lead.
Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Jack Redshaw were immediately introduced for Noble-Lazarus and Allen as Dale tried to ignite a comeback, but any hopes of that were quashed five minutes later when the visitors grabbed a third.
Half-time substitute Hefele headed a left wing cross downwards into the corner, where Logan couldn’t stop the effort from finding the back of the net.
There was a slight Dale rally in the final fifteen minutes when Mendez-Laing’s run down the left caused problems, before his dangerous cross was cleared off the line with Dale bodies swarming round.
Callum Camps showed his superb skill set when he fooled a Huddersfield defender with a 360 turn, but his fizzing effort was held by Coleman.
There was time for a fourth from Huddersfield in the 84th minute, when they counter attacked on a committed Dale. Quaner broke through the middle and squared to Hefele, who slotted home to round off the scoring.
Dale fought until the end but wouldn’t find a late consolation goal, as they bowed out of the Emirates FA Cup at the fourth round stage for the third time in four seasons.