Ten-man Dale earned a hard-fought 0-0 draw at home to Bristol Rovers, after playing the entirety of the second-half with ten men.
Goalkeeper Magnus Norman saw red on the stroke of half-time for a collision with Rovers’ Stefan Payne just outside the area, leaving Dale a man short for the second period.
Both sides had chances in either half, but in the end neither could break the deadlock, sharing the spoils on a chilly autumn evening at the Crown Oil Arena.
Keith Hill made five changes to the side that started Saturday’s home match against Portsmouth, as Magnus Norman, Harrison McGahey, M J Williams, Bradden Inman and Matthew Gillam all returned to the starting line-up.
Dale started well with Sam Hart’s crossing causes problems early on, Ollie Rathbone heading into goalkeeper Jack Bonham’s arms before Ian Henderson nodded narrowly wide from just inside the area.
Rovers’ Kyle Bennett sent a snapshot wide before Rathbone also fired an effort off target for Dale, shortly before the visitors rattled the woodwork.
Stefan Payne picked up on a loose pass out of the Dale defence and fired a blistering effort from 25-yards which struck the underside of the crossbar, shortly after he’d fired a shot wide of the Dale goal.
Dale were forced into an early sub when Jordan Williams replaced Gillam, who had picked up a knock minutes earlier.
David Perkins and Hart both fired wide of the target before Norman saved well from Ollie Clarke’s strike after Liam Sercombe’s fine run.
The open nature of the first period continued when Hart again fired wide and Joe Rafferty saw a header blocked, from which MJ Williams turned the rebound over.
On the stroke of half-time, Dale were reduced to ten men, when Norman was dismissed for colliding with Payne just outside the area, who had just beaten the Dale stopper to the bouncing ball.
Josh Lillis came on for Jim McNulty who was also hurt in the collision and his first act was to watch the resulting free-kick flash wide of his right post.
Despite starting the first-half a man down, Dale began brightly. Rathbone saw a curling effort from outside the area well saved before MJ Williams had a shot blocked following a short corner.
Sercombe nodded over for the visitors whilst Jordan Williams fired wide from outside the area for Dale.
Inman had a great chance just short of the hour mark when he latched on to Henderson’s flicked header on the edge of the area, but he hit straight into the arms of Bonham as he tried to lift the ball over the goalkeeper.
Substitute Lillis made a comfortable stop from Ollie Clarke before rushing out to deny Sercombe’s close range effort superbly with his body, after a low ball had found its way to the back post.
Henderson and Rathbone both saw efforts held by visiting goalkeeper Bonham, before Lillis produced another fine stop to deny Sercombe again, flying to his left to parry away a curling effort from range.
Rathbone sent a free-kick dipping over the crossbar before he produced a fine block to deny Ollie Clarke’s effort from the edge of the area.
Captain Henderson was denied by Bonham late on after being played through by Jordan Williams, who sent an effort wide from a corner in the 90th minute with Dale’s final chance of the game.