The Daggers dropped back to the bottom of nPower League One as a thrilling late fight back at Spotland proved fruitless on Saturday afternoon writes Ricky Butler
Having been second best for most of the opening half John Still's battlers scored twice in four minutes midway through the second half to turn the match on its head, but they were unable to find an equaliser in the closing stages and slipped to another away defeat.
Still made just one change from the side that had drawn with Walsall the previous week as Damian Scannell replaced Darren Currie on the left with Gavin Tomlin returning to partner Bas Savage up front.
But it was all about Dale in a scintillating first half display that could easily have put them out of sight. The hosts were close to going in front in the opening minute when a cross from the right by Anthony Elding found strike partner Chris O'Grady in the centre but visiting keeper Tony Roberts denied him with a smart save while Scott Doe then did well to clear a cross from the dangerous O'Grady.
It was a lively start from the hosts and Elding tested Roberts again in the 11th minute with a powerful header from a left wing cross by full back Joe Widdowson but the hosts did go in front ten minutes later. O'Grady cut in from the right, played a neat one-two with captain Gary Jones on the edge of the penalty area before firing a left footed shot into the bottom right corner of the net from 18 yards via a deflection off the unfortunate Doe.
Roberts then did well to deny Elding again after a slip by Mark Arber but the man the Daggers fans love to hate did double their lead ten minutes before the break. Nicky Adams did well down the right and his low cross was turned past Roberts by the former Crewe striker from 8 yards.
It was very nearly all over four minutes later when O'Grady cut inside a bemused Damien McCrory and fizzed a shot past Roberts but Doe was in the right place to clear the ball off his own goal-line, while the Welsh keeper then denied Jones' curling effort at full stretch.
That seemed to give The Daggers a lift and they finished the half strongly. Tomlin did well down the left in the 42nd minute but his cross was cleared by Craig Dawson while top scorer Romain Vincelot then tested Dale keeper Josh Lillis for the first time with a 25 yard drive in first half stoppage time.
Something had to change if The Daggers were going to get back in the match after the break and Still made a tactical change during the interval; switching to a diamond midfield to match that of the hosts, with Tomlin sitting deep and Scannell pushing further forward to support Savage.
It seemed to work as Tomlin began seeing more of the ball and the visitors started the second half on the front foot. Savage should have reduced the arrears within a minute of the restart following an inviting cross from Green, but his header was poor and Lillis was able to gather with ease.
Vincelot then looked to add to his five goals this season with a drive from 25 yards which was blocked by the home defence while Mark Arber then saw a close range header somehow kept out by the flying Lillis following a right wing corner from Green.
The pressure was really mounting on the home defence now and, following a succession of corners from the Daggers, Phil Ifil tried his luck from 20 yards but once again Lillis came out on top and it was the keepers' quick throw that led to Dale's third just prior to the hour mark. O'Grady was again at the heart of its creation with a strong run down the left and he had the awareness to pick out captain Jones who calmly swept the ball past Roberts from 6 yards.
Still's men are nothing if not resilient however and from nowhere they suddenly got themselves right back into it. Scannell was on hand to tap home at the far post after a shot from Arber had been charged down in the 63rd minute and the whole complexion of the game suddenly changed.
Savage saw an effort deflected wide by Scott Wiseman four minutes later and the resulting corner, whipped in from the left by Green, was turned home at the near post by Arber to make it game on again.
Still brought on some fresh legs up front as Josh Scott replaced Savage but it was the hosts who nearly sealed the points in the 72nd minute.
Elding drilled the ball in from the left and Adams looked odds on to score at the far post but McCrory got back to make a superb last gasp challenge and keep the Daggers hopes alive.
The Essex club then appeared to have won a spot kick when Peter Gain went down in the area under a challenge from Dawson eight minutes from time but referee Jon Waugh was not impressed and booked the Daggers man for simulation instead.
Then, as the match moved into injury time, Scannell shot straight at Lillis from the edge of the area while Scott then fired wide on the turn after a good ball in to his feet from Green as the hosts held on for the win to leave the Daggers rooted to the bottom of the table.
Despite the strong finish from his team Still accepted that the result was a fair one. "They were much, much better then us in the first half and we were hanging on a bit, but I thought we had the ascendancy in the second half and we are a little disappointed not have got something in the end."
Att: 2,650 (112 Daggers)