Pools lost their opening match of the 2013/14 League Two campaign as Rochdale ran out 3-0 winners on a disappointing afternoon.
Colin Cooper’s men had shown promise in a bright opening half despite going a goal behind but it was the hosts who made things happen after the break and Pools left Spotland on the back of a 3-0 defeat.
Rochdale took the lead on 13 minutes this afternoon but the goal was largely against the run of play as it was Pools who had looked the more likely to open the scoring.
Pools’ first chance came after Antony Sweeney set Jack Compton running down the left and the winger hit a great first-time ball into the box. Jonathan Franks arrived from the right to fire on goal but his powerful effort was well saved by Josh Lillis.
Sam Collins was next to try his luck only to be denied a headed effort by Lillis before Franks sent a lovely cross in from the right that found Sweeney at full stretch but his header went just wide of the far post.
Pools’ early dominance took a blow when Scott Hogan created a quality individual strike, skipping in from the left to break into the area and send a shot across the face of goal and into the bottom right corner of Scott Flinders’ goal.
The goal didn’t seem to dent Pools’ determination too much and they were soon back testing Lillis’ goal.
Brad Walker, making his debut for the Club this afternoon, sent a snapshot in from the edge of the box that scraped wide of the post as Cooper’s men looked for a quick reply.
As the half wore on though, it was the hosts who looked more dangerous – Peter Vincenti proving a real nuisance down the right and Pools were lucky on two occasions not to fall further behind.
Jack Compton had the last chance of the half as Pools looked to grab a perfectly-timed leveller; neat link-up between Monkhouse and Franks down the right saw the latter lift another good delivered into the box but Compton’s header went high over the bar and Pools went into the break a goal down.
Pools had a real chance of an equaliser with just over a minute of the second half having been played. Brad Walker sent a brilliant cross-field ball to Compton who did well to beat his man and get a cross into the box. Unfortunately neither Sweeney or Monkhouse, both arriving into the box, could get enough on the ball to convert and the chance passed.
Just minutes later though and Pools were further behind; a Christian Burgess challenge on the edge of the area was quickly penalised by the official and a spot kick awarded – George Donnelly stepped up to take the penalty and made no mistake as he hammered it home to make it 2-0 to Rochdale.
And Keith Hill’s men were soon celebrating a third as a Hogan ball set Ian Henderson away and he was allowed to break into the box to go one-on-one with Flinders and the Rochdale man came out on top as he sent the ball past the big keeper and into the back of the net to make it 3-0.
Colin Cooper introduced James Poole and Steve Howard to the action on 70 minutes as he looked for a fight-back from his side and Poole showed his confidence as he made his first touch a strike from outside of the box. Lillis collected the strike comfortably but it was a shot on target that hopefully would lead to more.
Compton was next to try his luck as he met a Franks cross to fire in from the far post but Lillis met the shot with a decent stop, while Poole should have scored late in the game as he met a great delivery from Compton to with a powerful header but he sent his effort high over the bar. Jack Baldwin was denied a late consolation as Lillis pulled off a great save to deny his header in what was Pools' last real effort of the afternoon.
The new season did not start as planned for Pools but Cooper will be working hard with his players to ensure things improve – starting with Tuesday night’s Capital One Cup trip to Nottingham Forest.
Full Time: Rochdale 3 Pools 0
Rochdale: Lillis, Rafferty, Cavanagh, Eastham, Lancashire,Vincenti, Donnelly, Hogan, Lund, Rose, Henderson (Done 76)
Subs: Thomson, Tutte, Hery, O’Connell, Allen, Bunney
Pools: Flinders, Austin, Collins, Burgess, Hartley, Walker (James 56), Baldwin, Sweeney (Poole 70), Franks, Compton, Monkhouse (Howard 70)
Subs: Rafferty, Richards, Walton, Rodney