Rochdale fell to a 3-0 defeat at home to automatic promotion hopefuls Bradford City on Saturday, Dale’s first loss in four.
Sam Stubbs opened the scoring early in the first half for the Bantams, while an Ethan Ebanks-Landell own goal and a deflected Scott Banks shot in the second half sealed the points for the visitors to the Crown Oil Arena.
There was one change to the side that lined up against Mansfield Town on Easter Monday as Toby Mullarkey came in for Owen Dodgson.
The Bantams started the match with an intensity that saw them pile on the pressure during the opening exchanges, and as they dominated proceedings early on, Dale struggled to get a foothold on the game.
The visitors’ high tempo start was buoyed by a goal after just five minutes, when Stubbs met a free-kick to the back post and powered home a header.
Andy Cook then fired over the bar from a ball that was pulled back to him inside the area, while Walker struck across goal and wide of the target.
Rochdale grew into the game as the half wore on and Ethan Brierley dragged an effort past the post on 20 minutes.
Up the other end, Harry Chapman stole in to snatch a loose ball and struck wide after driving in on goal.
Rochdale’s first big chance of the match came with 25 minutes on the clock. After an excellent fast-flowing move forward, Liam Kelly played Henderson in beyond the Bradford City defence, but after trying to round Harry Lewis, Henderson fired wide of the target while under pressure from the ‘keeper.
Dale were in again moments later but Abraham Odoh was denied by the goalkeeper. Odoh did well to intercept a weak header out from the back, but his shot was well-saved by the outrushing Lewis.
It had become a much more even affair, but the Bantams came inches from netting a second shortly before the half hour, when Walker’s dipping effort from distance came crashing off the crossbar.
Before the interval, Danny Lloyd had shot from inside the area blocked, having drove forward after winning the ball back up the pitch.
Opportunities were at a premium for Dale during the second half and it was Bradford who tested first after the break, four minutes after the re-start, as Richard O’Donnell held Walker’s header from a free-kick.
On the hour, the visitors were denied on the line by Henderson. Walker’s header, after he’d met a corner, looked certain to nestle in at the far corner, but the Dale forward did superbly to turn the goal-bound effort over the bar.
A double Rochdale substitution followed in the 71st minute, as Tyrese Sinclair, who was recalled from his loan spell at Altrincham on Thursday, replaced Odoh, and Devante Rodney, returning from injury, came on for Lloyd.
Bradford doubled their advantage three minutes later through an own goal, as Ebanks-Landell inadvertently diverted Richie Smallwood’s free-kick beyond the Dale goalkeeper.
Another Rochdale switch came soon after, with Ethan Brierley making way for James Ball.
The Bantams scored a third with eight minutes left to play. Banks’ shot took a wicked deflection, sending it looping up and over O’Donnell, as they put the game out of sight.
In stoppage time, Rodney was kept out by the woodwork as his effort came back off the crossbar, and ultimately Bradford saw the game out to claim a victory.