Rochdale’s seven season stay in League One came to an end on Saturday, as Dale’s 2-1 defeat to Doncaster Rovers confirmed relegation to League Two.
Taylor Richards’s brace - a goal in each half - gave the visitors to the Crown Oil Arena a 2-0 lead, before Matty Done halved the deficit late on.
Dale made two changes to the side that lined up against AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday night, as Aaron Morley and Matthew Lund came in for Jimmy McNulty and Conor Shaughnessy.
Rovers’ Joe Wright almost turned the ball into his own net early on from Ryan McLaughlin’s low ball across the face of goal, but his fluffed clearance went narrowly wide of the upright.
Sixty seconds later there were claims for a Dale penalty as Ollie Rathbone was upended inside the area, but the referee was quick to rule out the appeals. Up the other end, Jason Lokilo struck wide from 20-yards.
Rochdale dominated and created several opportunities before Doncaster broke the deadlock.
After Rathbone had a shot charged down, the ball fell kindly to Lund, who, on the turn, could only strike wide of the post.
Jimmy Keohane then forced Louis Jones into a save. Done had driven at goal before having his effort blocked on the edge of the area, but after Dale kept the move alive, Keohane arrived in the box and saw his shot kept out by the ‘keeper.
Soon after, Done cut inside the area and dragged a shot past the post, while Fejiri Okenabirhie struck wide of the upright.
Rochdale should have been ahead in the 20th minute when Lund rose to meet Done’s clipped cross to the back post. After Lund’s header came off the under side of the bar, the ball looked to have bounced over the line, but it was deemed to have been cleared off the line and Rovers eventually saw off the danger after it came back off the post.
Doncaster opened the scoring on the half hour with a break away goal. Richards showed a good first touch to bring Lokilo’s ball in to the from right under control before finishing beyond Jay Lynch from close range.
Soon after, Grant had a strike straight at Jones held, before he was involved in setting up Keohane after a well-worked move but Keohane was denied by the ‘keeper who got down to keep him out.
Meanwhile, after a corner was cleared out to him, Grant struck a powerful effort at goal from range forcing Jones to fly to his left, but ultimately the shot was blocked.
In stoppage time, Done had a corner cleared as far as Rathbone who struck narrowly wide of the target, bringing the half to its conclusion.
HT | ROCHDALE 0-1 DONCASTER ROVERS
Doncaster Rovers struck a couple of early efforts past the post soon after the re-start, before Done curled a strike wide from just inside the area.
The visitors doubled their advantage in the 56th minute, when Richards slotted into the bottom corner, having been played through by Lokilo.
Soon after the hour, Lynch denied Tyreece John-Jules. The Rovers forward struck a powerful effort at goal from 20-yards and the Dale ‘keeper got down to parry it away.
A triple Rochdale substitution followed in the 64th minute, as Stephen Dooley, Stephen Humphrys and Kwadwo Baah replaced Lund, Grant and McLaughlin, respectively.
Morley saw his powerful strike through a packed box kept out by Jones, with the goalkeeper getting down to beat away the effort.
A short time later he made way for Alex Newby, in Dale’s fourth substitution of the game.
Dale pulled a goal back in the 83rd minute to half the deficit. After Humphrys had an initial effort saved, Done smashed it in off the underside of the bar, but the Rochdale couldn’t find an equaliser that would have kept the season alive until the final day of the campaign.
FT | ROCHDALE 1-2 DONCASTER ROVERS