Jake Beesley’s first half goal secured a 1-0 victory over AFC Fylde on Saturday, in Rochdale’s fifth pre-season friendly of the 2021/22 schedule.
In the highly competitive fixture at Mill Farm, the Dale fans in attendance thought Conor Grant had broken the deadlock inside the opening 30 seconds, but the midfielder had struck narrowly wide of the upright and into the side netting.
The home side then had the ball in the back of the net a short time later, but a late offside flag went up, to rule it out.
Luke Conlan struck across goal and wide of Trialist A’s goal without troubling, before Matty Done saw an effort, after being played in Abraham Odoh, deflected wide for a corner.
Soon after, Trialist B sent a speculative shot from range over the bar.
On 20 minutes, Jordan Hulme squandered an opportunity for the hosts after the Coasters had broken down the left at speed and Ben Tollitt delivered across the face goal to the back post, where he could only find the side netting.
Captain Eoghan O’Connell glanced a header wide from an Aaron Morley corner, while Odoh had a fierce shot blocked.
And Dale’s opener came in the 35th minute through Beesley, who netted his fourth pre-season goal.
Odoh had picked up the ball centrally and drove between two opponents before sliding in Beesley. He took a touch and fired clinically into the bottom corner from just inside the area.
Four minutes before the interval O’Connell was forced off after picking up a knock and he was replaced by Jim McNulty, in Rochdale’s first change of the game.
Moments from half-time, after a superb move, Odoh squared to Dooley but his goal bound effort was deflected wide, and from the resulting corner Trialist C headed narrowly wide.
AFC Fylde’s best chance of the half came in stoppage time. Jack Sampson found himself in one-on-one with Trialist A, having been played in by Hulme, but he was denied by the ‘keeper who made a fine save from point blank range.
HT | AFC FYLDE 0-1 ROCHDALE
A couple of minutes after the restart Tollitt fizzed a dangerous ball across the face of goal but there there was no-one there to turn the ball over the line and AFC Fylde’s early second half opportunity was gone.
Before Beesley made way for Ollie Rathbone in the 63rd minute, Nathan Shaw had a powerful effort blocked behind and Emeka Obi headed wide of the target from the resulting corner.
Dooley fired over from edge of the area a short time later, having been played in by Odoh, before McNulty put in an important last ditch challenge to deny Hulme who was bearing down on goal.
Up the other end, Grant cut inside and had a shot deflected just over bar, as Neal also got a hand to the effort.
Meanwhile, Done came within inches of doubling Dale’s advantage in the 72nd minute when a quick counter-attack sent him in behind the Coasters’ defence, but he struck across goal and narrowly wide of the far upright.
A double Rochdale substitution followed, with Alex Newby and Ethan Brierley replacing Morley and Odoh.
Soon after, the hosts were in on goal but Trialist A pulled off a well-timed sliding challenge to keep out Sam Osborne who had tried to round him.
Dale’s fifth and final substitution came eight minutes from time - Trialist B made way for Joe Dunne.
Before the game was out, Harvey Gregson fired wide of the far post from 25-yards for the hosts.
And with the last kick of the game, Rathbone, who was surrounded by numerous Coasters, did well to free himself to get a snapshot away but his effort was held by Neal who was equal to it.
FT | AFC FYLDE 0-1 ROCHDALE
Starting XI | Trialist A, Trialist B, Trialist C, O'Connell, Keohane, Morley, Dooley, Grant, Odoh, Beesley, Done.
Subs | Lynch, Wade, McNulty, Mialkowski, Dunne, Kershaw, Brierley, Jesus, Newby, Rathbone, Scanlon.