Pools went into the game this afternoon looking for some kind of response to the 3-0 defeat at Rochdale on the opening day of the 2013/14 season.
Unfortunately, a strong Dale side bagged three second-half goals to take all three points in a repeat of that very scoreline.
Pools were the more lively of the two teams in the first half, passing the ball about neatly and creating several chances to open the scoring.
Rochdale, meanwhile, struggled to find their usual flowing style and were restricted to shots from distance as they attacked the Town End before the half-time break.
Jack O’Connell had the visitor’s first strike from distance early on after skipping through into space but Scott Flinders reacted quickly to get down and hold the strike, avoiding another early setback here at The Vic.
Pools’ first real chance also involved O’Connell as the Rochdale defender got caught in possession by Luke James. The lively Pools front man stole the ball from O’Connell to twist and turn into the box, only to be upended by a combination of Rochdale defenders in the process.
The referee, who found himself at the heart of many early talking points this afternoon, awarded a freekick on the edge of the area instead of the penalty Cooper’s men were expecting.
Jordan Richards, who was back in the team in place of the injured Michael Duckworth, took the freekick and sent a sweet strike up and over the wall but with Josh Lillis in the visiting goal beat, the ball struck the bar and bounced back into play.
Christian Burgess picked up the loose ball at the far post but saw his shot from close range blocked out for a corner.
Peter Vincenti was next to try a long-range effort for Rochdale but again, he found Flinders waiting to collect.
A Christian Burgess header over the bar from a corner kick was matched at the other end when Oliver Lancashire did the same with Rochdale’s first corner on 37 minutes.
Pools, who continued to dominate possession, had their next real chance on goal on 39 minutes; a great ball in from Andy Monkhouse on the left picked out James Poole who volleyed straight at goal only to be denied by a great Lillis save.
The final chance of the half fell to George Donnelly from 30 yards but his effort sailed a yard over the bar as the first half finished goalless.
After Jonathan Franks had found himself in a good position for Pools early in the second only to lose out in the box, the opener followed quickly – but it came at the wrong end for Cooper’s side.
A corner from the right sailed into a crowd at the near post and, after a scramble for possession, George Donnelly somehow got enough on the ball to see it roll past Flinders and into the back of the net.
Pools had to stand firm following the goal as Rochdale enjoyed a spell camped in the final third, winning a succession of corners and looking to put things beyond the hosts.
But Cooper’s side withstood the brief onslaught and a break from Monkhouse set away a good spell for his side.
There were half chances for James and Monkhouse as Pools got stuck in but there was nothing to beat Lillis and Rochdale were able to re-find their stride.
And with their next real push forward the visitors doubled their lead; Dale skipper Peter Cavanagh picked up the ball 20 yards out to send yet another strike from distance at the Pools’ goal. This time though, the ball somehow beat Flinders to hit the top corner, making it 2-0.
The introduction of Jack Compton down the right gave Pools another option to push forward and the winger make some decent runs, only to find Lillis with a couple of crosses.
While Pools continued to see plenty of the ball, they were just lacking that killer ball to grab a lifeline back into the game.
A Compton freekick found Jack Baldwin rising in the box but his header went over the bar, while a Christian Burgess header from another Compton freekick was straight into the arms of the Rochdale keeper.
Sub Graham Cummins slotted home from close range to make it a repeat of that opening day scoreline and finish things off at 3-0 in the dying minutes.
And so it proved another frustrating afternoon at The Vic as Pools suffered the second successive defeat on home ground.
Next up is a trip to Fleetwood Town, when Colin Cooper’s men will be looking to pick up their first points of 2014.
Full Time:Pools 0 Rochdale 3
Booked: Walton (40)
Att: 3685 (232 Rochdale)
Pools: Flinders, Richards, Baldwin, Burgess, Austin, Franks (Compton 67), Walton, Walker, Monkhouse, Poole (Rodney 60), James
Subs Not Used: Rafferty, Collins, Holden, Hawkins, Sweeney
Rochdale: Lillis, Bennett, Cavanagh, Lancashire, Vincenti, Hogan (Bunney 82), Lund (Donnelly 30 (Cummins 80)), Done, O’Connell, Rose, Henderson
Subs Not Used: Thomson, Rafferty, Eastham