Dale out after
ROCHDALE suffered a disappointing exit from the Checkatrade Trophy to League Two Lincoln City as Ollie Palmer’s late goal gave the visitors a deserved victory at the Crown Oil Arena.
It was Lincoln that made the brighter start on a difficult surface but Rochdale who carved out the first clear-cut chance of the match when Andy Cannon curled a 20-yard effort narrowly wide of the far post.
Dale struggled to maintain possession and much of the early play took place in the home side’s final third, but with Lincoln finding it difficult to break down the defence it was Rochdale who went close again, Mark Kitching rifling a low cross-shot across goal and just past the back post.
Lincoln were trying to make the most of their target man Matt Rhead’s physical presence and he should have opened the scoring after 26 minutes when he lost his marker and got a free header in from a deep cross from the right, but he only succeeded in diverting the ball straight at Josh Lillis in the Rochdale goal.
Rochdale then had a penalty shout waved away by referee Ben Toner when winger Joe Rafferty went down in the box under a clumsy challenge before Joe Bunney stretched Lincoln keeper Paul Farman with a swerving free kick that was tipped over the bar.
Lincoln provided Rhead with another good chance before the end of the half when the striker found space for a header at the back post, but again his effort was simple for Lillis to deal with.
The game slowed down in the second half as Rochdale started finding it easier to make use of the ball but again it was the away side presenting the greater goal threat, and Rochdale were grateful to Rafferty for a crucial block on Harry Anderson’s goalbound drive, while Lillis was kept on his toes by a powerful strike from just outside the area by Alex Woodward.
Rochdale’s best chance of the second period came through Calvin Andrews, the forward doing well to beat his marker from a corner but missing out on a fifth goal of the season when he headed just past the post.
It wasn’t until the 88th minute when Lincoln, finishing the stronger of the two sides, finally took a well-earned lead when substitute Nathan Arnold collected a loose clearance from Lillis, skipped past his marker on the left wing and slid a low cross into the six-yard box which found Ollie Palmer, brought on just after the hour mark for Rhead, and left the Red Imps striker with the simplest of tapins.
Lincoln almost found a second just two minutes later when the ball ricocheted into the path of Anderson – but the midfielder’s attempt to chip Lillis was fractionally over-hit and drifted harmlessly on to the roof of the net.
Rochdale did their best to force a late equaliser and take the game to penalties but the visitors’ defence held firm to send Lincoln into the quarter finals.
Speaking to the club’s official website, Rochdale manager Keith Hill professed himself disappointed by the late goal: “The manner in which we conceded was a car crash.
“Josh Lillis hurts his knee on the pitch, picks the ball up and kicks it to nobody, and they end up scoring from it.
“My right back dives in for no reason – only he knows why, and then nobody marks in the box. It’s unacceptable and it’s a chain of errors. We shouldn’t be conceding in that manner at that late stage of the game.”
●●Bradden Inman in action during Dale’s 1-0 defeat against Lincoln City