Dale suffered a narrow 2-1 defeat at home to Sunderland, despite a superb performance from Brian Barry-Murphy’s side which deserved more.
The visitors took the lead, against the run of play, through Republic Of Ireland international Aiden McGeady, but Callum Camps equalised just five minutes later.
Charlie Wyke scored what proved to be the winner 11 minutes after the break, but Dale threw everything at their opponents late on, dominating the closing stages, but just couldn’t find a route to goal.
Brian Barry-Murphy made two changes to his starting line-up, with Aaron Morley and 16-year old Luke Matheson, making his first EFL start, replacing Matty Done and Jimmy Keohane.
After an even opening five minutes and an effort well over from Sunderland’s Chris Maguire, Dale had the better of the first half an hour playing some fine football in the process.
Camps had Dale’s best effort in the 21st minute, collecting MJ Williams’ pass on the halfway line and turning, before driving into the Sunderland area and firing an effort into the side netting at the near post.
However, against the run of play, the visitors took the lead. They worked the ball into the right side of the area, before squaring for McGeady at the back-post, who slotted home calmly.
Dale weren’t behind for long though, responding superbly to equalise just five minutes later.
Rhys Norrington-Davies flicked on a diagonal ball into the path of Ollie Rathbone, who found Stephen Dooley inside the area. He pulled it back for Camps on the edge of the area, who slotted a cushioned first-time effort into the bottom corner.
There were huge shouts for a Dale penalty two minutes after the equaliser, when Jordan Willis looked to have controlled Norrington-Davies cross with his arm. However, referee John Busby waved away the protests.
Dale had the first effort of the second-half, when Rathbone’s run down the left saw him brek into the area and fire an effort to the near post, which needed to be turned wide for a corner by John McLaughlin.
Camps then saw a dipping shot from 25-yards saved low by the Sunderland stopper, with Henderson flagged offside as he picked up on the loose ball.
The visitors retook the lead 11 minutes after the interval, when Luke O’Nien’s cross was headed down by McGeady at the back-post, hitting Wyke and falling for him, before he turned and stroked home from close range.
Dale goalkeeper Robert Sánchez denied substitute Will Grigg with a one-handed save from a tight angle, before Jim McNulty blocked Wyke’s follow up.
Rathbone fired wide of the near post after cutting inside, before Dale substitute Calvin Andrew had an effort blocked wide.
Brian Barry-Murphy’s side were dominant in the closing stages as they searched for a deserved equaliser, with Dooley having a low effort turned round the post with a fingertip save.
McLaughlin then denied Henderson, who picked up on Matheson’s header back across goal and shot high, with the Sunderland stopper holding on to the effort.
He then denied Andrew, who was picked out superbly by Matheson’s cross, heading on target with McLaughlin saving well.
The final chance fell to Henderson, who met substitute Matty Done’s cross from the left, heading over from a central position.
Despite the narrow defeat, the players left the pitch to a standing ovation from the Dale fans, after a fine display.