A late Cole Skuse goal saw Rochdale fall to a 2-1 defeat at home to Colchester United on Saturday.
The U’s had taken the lead in the game at the Crown Oil Arena though Junior Tchamadeu but Devante Rodney drew Dale level before half-time. Skuse netted in the 88th minute to win it for the visitors.
Goalkeeper Jake Eastwood who returned to Rochdale on Thursday for a second loan spell went straight into the starting eleven, replacing Richard O’Donnell in net. Meanwhile, Sam Graham and Abraham Odoh came in for Femi Seriki and Cameron John.
There was little in terms of goal mouth action during the first half but the sides grabbed a goal apiece as they went in level at the break.
Captain Ethan Ebanks-Landell had the first on-target effort, after seeing his header from a corner held by Kieran O’Hara, early on, whilst the U’s broke the deadlock shortly before the half hour with their first and only opportunity of the half. From John Akinde’s lay-off, Tchamadeu smashed a thunder bolt into the top corner from the edge of the area.
A couple of minutes after the goal, there were shouts for a Rochdale penalty as Ian Henderson was hauled to the ground inside the area, but the referee waved away the appeals.
Dale were trying to find an opening and they netted an equaliser in the 36th minute. After Dale capitalised on a poor Colchester pass, Aidy White stole in before crossing to the back post for Henderson who saw his close-range effort saved. The rebound fell for Rodney, who struck home with power to level proceedings.
Following the break, neither side were able to get a foot hold on the game, and again, chances for either team were at a premium.
The first shot at goal during the second half came just before the hour, when Cole Skuse intercepted a short pass out of defence and played in Akinde who had his effort held by Eastwood.
Three minutes later, Akinde met a free-kick at the back post and headed down and into the six-yard box where Tommy Smith got on the end of it, sending a looping effort at goal which was pushed over the bar by the Rochdale ‘keeper.
Dale were forced into their first substitution of the game in the 68th minute after White took a bang to the head following a late challenge and was unable to continue. He was replaced by John.
A triple change followed moments later, as Scott Quigley, James Ball and Toumani Diagouraga came on for Graham, Henderson and Danny Lloyd.
A big chance for Dale went begging with 77 minutes on the clock. Abraham Odoh squared to Kelly who played a great first time pass to Ball, but his first time shot is straight at O’Hara and the opportunity was gone.
Soon after, up the other end, Matt Jay scuffed an effort wide of the target.
Rochdale were then in again, this time through Kelly who sent a delightful weighted pass over the top and into the feet of Rodney who was denied by O’Hara who got down to divert his effort round the upright.
Another change came moments later when Tyrese Sinclair replaced Odoh.
But Dale were dealt a blow with two minutes of time remaining, when the U’s took a late lead through Skuse, whose shot from range was fumbled over the line by Eastwood.
As the game went into seven minutes of stoppage time, Jimmy Keohane made way for Campbell, but Rochdale were unable to find an equaliser.