Gavin Tomlin passed up a glorious chance to give the Daggers a flying start in the first minute of the game writes Jack Steggles. Bas Savage piled on the agony by missing an even easier one on the stroke of half-time as John Still's men paid a heavy price for that by suffering a third straight New Year defeat and sliding deeper into trouble at the foot of the League one table.
The need for a goal was desperate. And there to watch the action played out was the club's record scorer Paul Benson. Sold to Charlton at the start of the season and banned from their FA Cup tie at Tottenham, Benno paid a visit back to the club where he was idolised. How they could have done with him on the pitch for this one.
Still made three changes to the team that started against Southampton five days earlier - skipper Mark Arber, Tomlin and Peter Gain replacing Will Antwi, Billy Bingham and Solomon Taiwo. The Daggers finished strongly against the Saints and carried on whgere they left off with a blistering start that should have brought a goal after only 30 seconds.
Tomlin, played through straight from the kick off, burst into the box but was put under a bit of pressure and hesitated long Enough for keeper Josh Lillis to spread himself and smother the danger.
Rochdale weathered the early storm to make their own presence felt and ii needed a brilliant tackle from Arber to check Jean-Loius Akpa Akpro in full flight.
Tony Roberts was then brought into action to tip over a dipping volley from Nicky Adams after Tomlin gave the ball away. The same Rochdale player brought another easier save from Robbo with a 25 yarder.
The Daggers finished the first half the way they started it, throwing everything at Rochdale with sustained pressure that deserved a goal and should have produced one.
Full-back Abu Ogogo unleashed a ferocious shot from the edge of the area that seemed to be on its way in until defender Marcus Holness headed it away with his keepeer struggling.
Then, with virtually the last kick of the first half, the ball fell to Savage, in the near post and no more than five yards out. Incredibly he put his shot across the face of the goal and outside the far post.
In a bids to achieve the breakthrough Still brought on Josh Scott and new boy Marvin Morgan with 65 minutes gone. But when a goal did arrive it came at the other end in what was a devastating blow to the home side . And it came from Chris O'Grady, who just loves scoring against the Daggers. There seemed no undue danger when O'Grady collected the ball out on the left in the 74th minue. But Scott Doe back off him and O'Grady showed great opportunism by driving the ball through Doe's legs and past the unsighted Roberts.
It was a master class in how to take a half chance and the Daggers suffering fans headed for home hoping their own players can learn from it.
Assistant manager Terry Harris confirmed they are working hard enough on the problem in training. But unless they sort it out on the pitch -and quickly - they face a trough few months ahead.
Att 1948 (224 Rochdale)