A second half Ian Henderson goal condemned Chesterfield to a fourth straight defeat in game that Spireites rarely showed any fluency or confidence.
It was cold but sunny at Spotland and the pitch, shared by Dale and Rugby League team Hornets, was flat but looked likely to deteriorate as the game meant on.
Cook’s decision to play 4-3-3 was something of a surprise but he’s still trying to find the best combination from an attacking perspective following on from Eoin Doyle’s January departure.
The manager continued with Gboly Ariyibi and Ashley Carter who both started a league game for the first time in their career in the midweek defeat at Scunthorpe United. Ariyibi’s pace and trickery was the most optimistic sign from Glandford Park and the 20 year old will be hoping to continue with the form he showed before running out of steam in the second half.
It was all blue versus all white with Spireites hoping their Real Madrid look would transmit into top form on the park though as the game started, the heavens opened and the weather was anything other than Spanish as hail storms made tiki taka football all but impossible.
Dale earned a corner, Henderson headed but the ball flew comfortably for Lee. Roberts over hit a free kick as the weather eased. Home skipper Lancashire tumbled awkwardly and had to be withdrawn, Eastham came on after just 12 minutes.
Roberts and Darikwa combined well on the right but Ryan’s ball forward wasn’t headed well by Gnanduillet. Vincenti headed over from six yards from Kennedy’s cross, the winger should have done better with the chance.
Clucas crossed deep for Roberts who didn’t make a great contact with his head and Lillis was able to save low down as the game continued in a low key manner.
Ryan’s cross was headed out for the game’s first corner by Rafferty but Banks’ delivery was a little too high for Roberts. Darikwa’s cross found Ariyibi but the raider, back pedaling, only found Lillis’s hands.
Rose put an Ariyibi cross out for a stoppage time corner and Hird looped the ball over his shoulder and out for a goal kick.
Rochdale 0 Chesterfield 0
Hery replaced Dawson for the hosts at the start of the second half.
Roberts’ free-kick just eluded Banks before hitting Gnanduillet and Lillis had to work to keep the ball out. Clucas conceded a corner but Vincenti was unable to make a telling contact at the far post.
Hery was booked for a foul on Banks and Banks volleyed the nod down from Gnanduillet after Clucas’s free-kick but Lillis saved in front of his face. Vincenti headed well wide from Henderson’s cross after a quickly taken free-kick.
Ryan’s cross was hacked out for a corner and Banks, having taken the corner and seen the ball returned to him, found Hird who glanced a header wide. Lee had to save well to deny Bunney in a one on one and the second phase of the attack saw Hird head Henderson’s cross away.
Rafferty misjudged a Hird ball forwards to concede a corner but Spireites were unable to make any headway from their gift.
Clucas fouled by the touchline and Rose’s low free-kick clipped IAN HENDERSON just inside the six and that touch was just enough to divert the ball beyond Lee with 65 played.
O’Shea came on for Ariyibi and his free kick was headed clear as Gnanduillet looked to pounce. Gnanduillet was booked for a foul on O’Connell. Gnanduillet and Ryan almost got onto the end of balls into the box. Hird had to clear Vincenti’s cross and Hery’s cross was deflected for a corner, Rose delivered and Gnanduillet headed clear.
Ryan was booked for a foul on Henderson whilst Roberts was replaced by Lavery and Duffy came on for Banks.
Chesterfield struggled to make any headway after the changes as Rochdale wound the clock down relatively comfortably to notch their first win in five though Lavery forced a great save from Lillis in the final mi nute of stoppage time.
Rochdale: Lillis, Rafferty, Lancashire, Vincenti, Dawson, O’Connell, Rose, Logan, Kennedy, Bunney, Henderson. Subs: Musangu, Eastham, Noble-Lazarus, Hery, Cannon, Bell, Brandy.
Chesterfield: Lee, Darikwa, Hird, Carter, Clucas, Ryan, Morsy, Banks, Ariyibi, Roberts, Gnanduillet. Subs: Chapman, Evatt, Duffy, O’Shea, Harrison, Lavery, Humphreys.
Ref: David Coote (West Yorkshire).