Rochdale’s first game of 2022 ended in defeat against Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park.
Two first half goals from Charlie Jolley secured victory for the home side.
It was Dale’s first game in 28 days due to four consecutive postponements for Robbie Stockdale’s side, with their last league game December18th.
The hosts started brightly and they tested inside the opening two minutes, when Joel Coleman had to turn a fierce cross from the left onto the woodwork.
Sixty seconds later they were ahead. Jolley intercepted an attempted pass out of the area before firing into the top corner.
Rochdale had to defend for long spells after the goal as Rovers came forward time and time and time again, and the home side doubled their advantage in the 16th minute. Jolley netted his second of the afternoon after breaking into the area and curling an effort into the far bottom corner.
Dale grew into the game as it progressed and were much improved, and had a few half-chances during the remainder of the first half to reduce the deficit.
Captain Eoghan O’Connell clipped a ball into the area for Josh Andrews, but the on loan forward couldn’t quite make a clean connection and could only flick his effort wide of the target.
Conor Grant then did really well to find Alex Newby who drove into the area and had a low shot kept out by the legs of Ross Doohan in the Tranmere Rovers goal.
As the game approached half-time, Stephen Dooley had a powerful shot from outside the area defended away with an important block.
Rochdale started the second half on top and had a penalty shout and a header cleared off the line during opening five minutes.
There was some great play from Grant to get inside the area before three Rovers players surrounded him, but the referee was unmoved after he went to ground.
Moments later, Dale won a succession of corners, one of which O’Connell flicked on dangerously at the near post, forcing Doohan to get down and hold on the goal line.
The first substitutions of the game came shortly after the hour mark, when Rochdale made a double substitution as Newby and Andrews made way for Abraham Odoh and Matty Done, respectively.
Still Rochdale came forward but the hosts defended resolutely limiting Dale’s opportunities.
Tranmere Rovers had a couple of rare shots as the game approached the final 10 minutes.
Coleman got down to hold Kane Hemmings’ snapshot, before substitute Sam Foley then fired a fierce effort narrowly over the bar from range.
Dale continued in search of a goal and again were kept out on the line by Doohan. Robbie Stockdale’s side broke forward and George Broadbent fired the ball into the middle where Done tried to turn it goal wards but was kept out by the ‘keeper.
He then had a curling effort held.
Rochdale’s third and final substitution followed with six minutes left to play, with Aidy White making way for Danny Cashman.
As the game approached the 90th minute, there was a sense of urgency around Dale’s play and they won a string of corners as they applied relentless pressure on the hosts, and most notably Broadbent had a shot blocked.
It was all Dale and O’Connell then had a volley blocked deep in stoppage time. But in the end Tranmere Rovers held on for the victory.