Chesterfield’s run of defeats came to an end but they were unable to turn their superior play into victory.
Craig Westcarr scored in the first half and all looked rosy for the struggling Spireites but home skipper Gary Jones hit back with the equaliser 16 minutes from time.
After promising changes in a bid to end the team’s losing sequence, John Sheridan surprised everyone by making just two. Aaron Downes returned to centre back and Lee Johnson was recalled after serving a three game ban. Left back Nathan Smith retained his place but was pushed forwards into midfield.
The first half saw Chesterfield return to something more like what’s needed. Playing a formation that featured on Leon Clarke up top and Nathan Smith on the left of a five man midfield, right from the off they looked a notch or two above their recent form.
Westcarr saw a close range effort deflected just wide, as did Clarke whilst Alex Mendy and Lee Johnson also saw shots from further out clip the bodies of desperate defenders as the green shirted visitors dominated.
Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro and home debutant Nathan Eccleston reminded Spireites that Dale, with just one win in eight, were dangerous before Westcarr put Sheridan’s side in front, drilling in a 25 yarder that took a slight deflection to wrong foot ex Owl David Lucas.
Pim Balkestein shot just too high from a Rochdale corner ahead of Lucas denying Clarke in first half stoppage time with a save at the striker’s feet.
As expected, Dale came out strong after the interval but they struggled to find the final ball, just as Chesterfield have been in recent weeks. Clarke hit a left foot shot just over as Spireites looked to play on the break.
Greg Fleming, rarely involved, took a kick off Andrew Tutte and, after treatment, he was soon called into action, stooping low to stop a Balkestein shot. Whitaker and Westcarr both shot close from the box-edge after some neat football and Westcarr ballooned high from close in after a Clarke cross as the game ebbed and flowed with Spireites marginally the better side.
But football has a habit of knocking you when you’re down and Jones received from Gray, beat Dean Holden and equalised.
Smith shot straight at Lucas when he looked certain to score and Aaron Downes’ towering header from a corner was blocked as Spireites looked to hit back but they were unable to gain enough initiative to grab the win they deserved.
Rochdale (4-3-3): Lucas 6, Darby 6, Trotman 5, Holness 6, Balkestein 6, Tutte 6, Jones 7, Barry-Murphy 5 (Gray 68, 7), Eccleston 7 (Kennedy 78), Akpa Akpro 5 (Adams HT, 6), Grimes 6. Subs (not used): Kean, Benali.
Chesterfield (4-5-1): Fleming 6, Talbot 7, Holden 6, Downes 6, Grounds 7, Mendy 7, Johnson 8, Whitaker 7 (Clay 88), Smith 7, Westcarr 7, Clarke 6. Subs (not used): Clay, Bowery, Allott, Randall, Morgan.
Goals: Westcarr 36 (Chesterfield), Jones 74 (Rochdale)
Booked: Jones (Rochdale)
Ref: Darren Drysdale (Lincs)