Rochdale fell to a late defeat away at Forest Green Rovers on Tuesday night.
The league leaders, who had to come from behind, netted four minutes from time secure a victory at the New Lawn.
James Ball scored on his debut to break the deadlock just two minutes after the break and Dale held their lead for much of the half, until the hosts equalised through Jack Aitchison in the 73rd minute. Matty Stevens won it for Rovers.
Manager Robbie Stockdale made one change to the side that lined up against Colchester United last Tuesday night, as Ball came into the eleven in place of Alex Newby.
It was a fairly even first half, where both sides had opportunities. Dale had a penalty shout turned down, while the hosts were kept out by the woodwork.
Early on, Jamille Matt had a header comfortably held by Joel Coleman.
Rochdale then worked their way into the area with a fine move forward. Conor Grant had the final effort on goal, but he struck wide of the target.
Jack Aitchison tested Coleman with a shot straight at him but he held well, before the Dale ‘keeper was forced to tip Jordan Moore-Taylor’s header from a corner over the bar with a superb save. Nicky Cadden struck over from the resulting corner, which was taken short.
Just before the half hour there were big shouts for a Rochdale penalty when Grant burst into the area. He appeared to have been upended as he looked to latch onto the ball and get in one-one with Luke McGee, but the referee waved away the protests.
Moments later, up the other end, Forest Green Rovers were kept out by the woodwork, when Ben Stevenson saw his low shot from 20-yards come crashing off the base of the post.
Dale were in again soon after with another good move forward. Grant found Kelly who played a first time ball through to Tahvon Campbell. The forward took a touch before seeing a shot well blocked from just inside the area.
As the game approached half-time, Ebou Adams fired a fierce strike from range inches wide of the target. While Matt, after the ball fell fortuitously for him inside the area, lashed a shot past the post in stoppage time.
There was one change for the start of the second half, as George Broadbent made way for Stephen Dooley.
And Dale were ahead two minutes after the restart, thanks to Ball’s goal on his debut. Grant sent a ball over the top for Corey O'Keeffe who in turn found Liam Kelly. He sent a ball across the edge of the six-yard box where Ball timed his run to perfection, slotting home to break the deadlock.
Rochdale enjoyed a spell on top after the goal and looked like the team that was likely to go on and add another. During that time, Grant fed in Campbell who hit a first time shot wide.
The hosts did rally and Aitchison had shot blocked as a scramble ensued inside the area, before Jeriel Dorsett headed away the resulting corner at the near post, as Dale stood firm.
That continued as Rochdale defended resolutely, limiting the league leaders’ Aitchison to a snapshot from just outside the area.
Luke Charman came on for Dale in the 67th minute, replacing Campbell, as the side made their second change of the game.
They were forced into a third, five minutes later, when Paul Downing picked up an injury and couldn’t continue, with Max Taylor coming on to replace him.
The home side equalised sixty seconds later. Aitchison smashed a shot from 20-yards through a packed box and beyond Coleman.
Soon after the goal, Baily Cargill sent a header against a the bar, as Forest Green Rovers were denied by the woodwork for a second time during the evening.
A mistake four minutes from time sealed the points for the hosts. Stevens got on the end of a cross from the right and sent a header at goal, which was fumbled over the line by Coleman.
Deep in stoppage time, a chance opened up for Ball to claim a point for Dale, but agonisingly he could only strike inches wide from 10-yards.
Rochdale piled the pressure on as the clock ticked away, and Grant then fired over the bar, but the hosts saw the game out for the victory.