Rochdale bowed out of the Emirates FA Cup on Saturday following a 2-1 defeat to Stockport County at the Crown Oil Arena.
The Hatters opened the scoring with a spectacular John Rooney strike from the half way line, before extending their lead through Alex Reid a short time later. Matty Lund halved the deficit in the 22nd minute, but despite controlling much of the rest of the game for long periods, the two early goals proved too much a mountain to overcome for Dale.
There was one change to the side that lined up against Oxford United midweek, as Jim McNulty came in for Haydon Roberts.
The visitors started the game strongly and broke the deadlock in spectacular fashion seven minutes into the game.
From kick-off, the Hatters were on the front and Mark Kitching struck an effort across goal and wide, before Gavin Bazunu got a strong first to a Connor Jennings shot at the near post, soon after.
Dale did have their own foray into the area as Alex Newby broke forward, playing in Jake Beesley, who after getting inside the box, saw the ball deflect up and off an opposition player and into the hands of Ben Hinchliffe.
But the Hatters’ opener soon followed. After picking the ball up inside his own half, Rooney saw an opportunity to strike goal wards and he found the back of the net from the halfway line.
They doubled their advantage seven minutes later.
A low shot into the area, which took a couple of deflections, fell fortuitously for Reid and he turned home a first time effort from the edge of the six-yard box.
Rochdale grew into the game and they halved the deficit on 22 minutes, when Lund scored his sixth goal of the season. He rose highest to meet Newby’s cross in from the right and powered home a header.
After the goal, Rochdale dominated and caused the visitors problems.
Jimmy Keohane rode a challenge and drove forward before having the ball clattered against him and it drifted narrowly wide of the Ben Hinchliffe’s near post. Newby tested the goalkeeper soon after with a 30-yard free-kick, with Hinchliffe punching it away.
But despite the latter stages of the first period belonging to Dale, Stockport had the last opportunity of the half, when Bazunu kept out a fierce Kitching strike from the edge of the 18-yard box with his legs.
HT | ROCHDALE 1-2 STOCKPORT COUNTY
Eight minutes after the re-start, Ryan was denied by Hinchliffe, when the ‘keeper was forced to tip his deflected shot over the bar.
On the hour, Aaron Morley’s ball into the area was touched goal wards by Lund, but he couldn’t get enough on it to take it past the ‘keeper who got his body behind it to hold.
There were claims for a Dale penalty soon when Keohane went to ground following an Ollie Rathbone shot that bounced around the area, but the decision went the other way and the visitors were awarded a free-kick.
Jennings’ on target strike was gathered by Bazunu, before Ryan fired wide from 35-yards.
Either side of a second penalty claim, when Beesley went down under a challenge in the area, Manager Brian Barry-Murphy made his first and second changes of the game.
Ryan made way for Fabio Tavares, while Stephen Dooley replaced Bola.
Bazunu made a fine save at his near post tipping over Reid's fierce effort, but it was all Dale during the closing stages as they went in search of an equaliser.
Hinchliffe held a header from a Morley delivery, while the goalkeeper kept out Rathbone’s low effort with his foot before getting up quickly to gather as Beesley came charging in.
He held a Lund header from an O’Connell ball in, soon after.
Dale kept going until the end, as Beesley sent a volley over in stoppage time, but ultimately Stockport County stood firm to secure passage to the second round.
FT | ROCHDALE 1-2 STOCKPORT COUNTY