MATCH REPORT: Rochdale 2 Fleetwood 1
Substitute Steven Davies ended Fleetwood Town's three-match unbeaten 2-1 at Rochdale as his late header clinched all three points at the Spotland Stadium.
Rochdale took a deserved lead in the 10th minute as Donal McDermott’s cross from the left was nodded in by Matthew Lund at the back stick as Town failed to show up in the opening stages.
But Fleetwood managed to get themselves back in the game as danger man Chris Long once again produced something out of nothing as he sped down the left and won a penalty after he was upended by Harrison McGahey.
Bobby Grant stepped up to take the spot-kick and his left-footed effort just trickled over after Josh Lillis got a hand to it in the 23rd minute.
It was a lacklustre opening 45 for Town but the momentum looked to have swung back into their hands as it reached half-time.
Head coach Rosler brought off right-back Conor McLaughlin and right midfielder Victor Nirennold at half-time and threw on Eggert Jonsson and Michael Duckworth.
But neither side lit the park up in the second half and Rochdale just grabbed the three points with a late goal.
It all stemmed from a Chris Neal goal-kick and after Town lost two 50-50 balls Joe Bunney was able to pump in a cross from the left, Neal misjudged the cross, it flew straight over him and into the path of the unmarked Davies who headed home with four minutes to go.
Fleetwood midfielder Jimmy Ryan was not fit enough to feature and was replaced by Victor Nirennold in the starting line-up.
Nirennold started on the right with Dempsey in the middle and Bobby Grant on the left.
It was nearly a horrendous start for Town as last man Amari’i Bell let the ball bounce before he was robbed by Dale’s Ian Henderson, the forward instinctively chipped the ball towards goal with Neal off his line but fortunately for the visitors it dropped just wide of the left stick.
Bobby Grant’s snap-shot effort from outside the box bobbled straight through to Lillis as ‘Dale opened the half determined to end their winless streak.
Rochdale continued to bomb forward and took a deserved lead in the 10th minute as McDermott whipped the ball in from the left and Lund rose up high above Bell to nod in at the back stick from six-yards out.
McDermott just curled a ball wide of the top right corner and Fleetwood right back McLaughlin found himself in the book for chopping down Camps mid-flight just in Town’s half in the 19th minute.
But despite Rochdale’s early dominance Town soon found a way back into the game.
Speedster Long broke away on the left and sprinted towards the box, as he crossed the white line he was felled by McGahey and referee Mark Heywood pointed to the spot and booked the defender.
Grant stepped up to take the spot-kick at his old Spotland stomping ground but his left-footed effort just crept in as Lillis guessed the right way, dived low to his right, got a fingertip on the ball but could not stop Grant opening his account for the season as it trickled over in the 23rd minute.
Moments later Long made an identical run down the left and honed in on goal, but his angled effort was tipped away by Lillis temptingly into the six-yard box but no red shirt was in sight to gobble up the loose ball.
Dale continued to create chances but again fired off target as the half wore on as Camps’ snap-shot took a slight deflection and flew over the bar.
The home fans were up in arms with the referee for waving away two Dale penalty appeals in a matter of minutes.
Firstly Camps went down in the box near Nathan Pond and Lund went to ground at the back stick from another Dale corner but the referee waved play on much to the anger of the home faithful.
Long continues to impress whenever he gets a sniff in the opposition half and he single-handedly took on the whole Rochdale half in the 40th minute.
He picked up the ball on the edge of the box before using his pace to curve round all of the blue shirts on the right before releasing the trigger as he approached the six-yard box. His effort was batted away by Lillis and unfortunately just missed Ball who was sniffing around.
It was Town who had grown into the game as the half wore on and looked more of a threat with four of their five attempts on goal on target in comparison to the wasteful Dale who only managed to hit the target once despite carving out eigth chances.
Dale had a whale of a time on the left flank in the first half and at the break Rosler switched up his right hand side to try and stop the hosts having the same impact.
McLaughlin and Nirennold were withdrawn with Duckworth slotting in at right back and Eggert Jonsson coming off the bench and into the middle of the midfield three with Dempsey moving over to the right.
It was a less than thrilling second half with both sides waiting for the other to turn the game on its head.
Neal went close to picking up a yellow card for time wasting in the first 45 and was shown a yellow card for time-wasting after taking too long to take his goal kick in the opening 10 minutes.
Henderson fired the ball straight down Neal’s throat as the game entered the final 20 minutes.
Davies smashed a set-piece straight at Neal and Pond nodded Grant’s corner from the left wide of the right stick when he should have hit the target.
And moments later Rochdale went up the other end to score.
Fleetwood lost two 50-50 balls from Neal’s goal kick allowing Bunney to whip in a cross from the left, Neal flapped at it and substitute Steven Davies nodded home unmarked four minutes from time.
Bunney was booked for upending Duckworth on the right flank and Nathan Pond spent the remainder of the game up top as a target man alongside the short front three as Rosler switched to three at the back to try and grab a point.
Rochdale: Lillis, McNulty, McGahey, Vincenti, Lund, Camps, McDermott (Odelusi, 63), Thompson (Davies, 63), Keane, Bunney, Henderson (Andrew, 76). Subs not used: Logan, Andrew, Barry-Murphy, Morley, Hollins.
Fleetwood: Neal, McLaughlin (Duckworth, 46), Pond, Eastham, Bell, Grant, Dempsey, Nirennold (Jonsson, 46), Long, Cole (Woolford, 76), Ball. Subs not used: Cairns, Bolger, Hunter, Jakubiak.
Referee: Mark Heywood (West Yorkshire)