Fleetwood Town fought valiantly at the Crown Oil Arena as they lost 2-1 to Rochdale after a late goal from Fabio Tavares.
Forward Harvey Saunders drew the game level late on, cancelling out Matthew Lund’s first-half goal, but Fabio Tavares struck back just before the end.
The first chance of the game fell to Rochdale just three minutes in. A long ball over the top found Jake Beesley but Alex Cairns was quick to react and nick the ball from the feet of the attacker.
The hosts had another chance to take the lead when Jimmy Keohane’s cross from the right-hand side was met by Oliver Rathbone whose effort was tipped around the post by Cairns – Lund headed home from the resulting corner.
Lund found himself in the middle of the action once again when he tried his luck from range forcing a save out of Cairns at full stretch to keep the deficit to just one.
Fleetwood reacted and pushed for an equaliser with Wes Burns. His lobbed cross found Paddy Madden at the back post whose strike didn’t trouble the goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu.
Callum Camps found an inch of space on the edge of the box but after pressure from the Rochdale defence his effort flies just over the bar.
At the other end, The Dale had the chance to add to their tally. Alex Newby made his way into the area before driving a shot towards goal but saw his effort easily saved.
Barrie McKay’s driving run down the left saw him find the space to drill a ball into the feet of Madden who was charged down by the Rochdale defence blocking his shot.
Fleetwood were beginning to find their feet just before the break and after a tidy bit of build-up play, the Cod Army forced a chance, but Camps miscued his effort from 20 yards out meaning his side went in a goal down at the break.
An early second half scare for Fleetwood as five minutes after the interval Done’s whipped free-kick clipped the top of the cross bar and Cairns could only watch on.
Just before the hour mark, the hosts had the chance to make it two. Done’s corner was only partially cleared to the edge of the area. Stephen Dooley latched onto the loose ball and fired just wide of the Fleetwood goal.
With 12 minutes to go, McKay found Saunders in the penalty area whose one-touch finish found the far corner to level the score.
Moments later Joey Barton’s side had the chance to take the lead. Burn’s dangerous ball into the area was spilled by Bazunu into the path of Evans whose effort was cleared off the line.
With 12 minutes to go Lund forced a sensational save from Cairns who pushed the ball over the bar with his left hand – substitute Tavares scored from the resulting corner.
Rochdale XI: Bazunu, McShane, O’Connell, Dooley, Morley, Newby (Tavares 85), Beesley, Keohane, Rathbone, Done, Lund.
Unused subs: Charlton, McNulty, Hopper, Brierley, Dunne.
Town XI: Cairns (GK), Andrew, Whelan, Burns, Evans, Camps, Madden (Saunders 63), McKay, Boyes, Hill (Duffy 61), Matete (Coutts 45).
Unused subs: Leutwiler (GK), Stubbs, Garner, Rydel.