There were 10 minutes remaining of the first half when the home fans starting shouting 'ole' to every Rochdale pass - that should tell you everything you need to know about the Stevenage performance.

The 2-0 defeat to League Two's basement club was a kick in the teeth for every fan who had made the journey to the northern outskirts of Greater Manchester.

It put a huge spanner in their promotion charge too although on the basis of this show, they don't deserve to go up.

Rochdale's fans though were loving it and while it may not end in a great escape, there is hope once again in the Pennines.  

There were four changes for Stevenage from the come-from-behind win at AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday.

Jonathan Tomkinson, Jake Forster-Caskey, Michael Bostwick and Jordan Roberts were the quartet to come into the starting line-up with Luther James-Wildin, Jake Reeves, Jake Taylor and Daryl Horgan all missing out.

James-Wildin and Terence Vancooten both travelled but weren't in the squad. Horgan remained down south.

He was the lucky one because what followed was one of the worst halves of football seen for many a year.

Dale played in black and blue and for times in the first half, you would have thought you were watching peak Inter Milan.

Stevenage allowed them though and the first goal was proof of that.

Scott Quigley held off two half-hearted challenges out on the Boro right before transferring it across to the other side of the pitch for the unmarked Abraham Odoh.

He was able to stride forward without a Boro man getting near and that allowed him plenty of time to watch Devante Rodney make his run behind the defence, telling him exactly where to put it.

That's where it went and the finish was effortless.

The second wasn't much better.

This time it was Ethan Brierley down the right and his low cross was swept home by Danny Lloyd, who also had the freedom of Spotland.

In between Boro players looked like statues as Rochdale simply passed their way round or ran past the so-called markers.

It was no surprise that there were changes in personnel and system.

Alex Gilbey had started the game as he finished Tuesday, at right wing-back, but he was moved into midfield on 33 minutes as Kane Smith and Taylor came on for Tomkinson and Forster-Caskey.

It had a small effect in that it did lead to a few chances. 

Taylor and Bostwick had a shot blocked and Roberts brought an excellent on-handed save out of Richard O'Donnell.

But that was a rare moment of positivity from the visitors and if they were hopeful of the interval bringing some peace, they were rudely disappointed.

Taylor and Smith were excused from the obvious blasting, the substitutes told to wait outside for five minutes before finally being called into the inner sanctum.

When they emerged there was a third change, Reeves on for Bostwick, but while it put them on the front foot a bit more, there wasn't much to shout about until more than 10 minutes passed.

Even then though, it was lacking and there were only a couple of genuine moments where you felt Boro could pull a rabbit out of their hat.

A lovely ball by Smith into Taylor saw his low cross put out for a corner.

From the set-piece Roberts clipped it to the back post with Taylor's flick-on almost creeping in, O'Donnell making the save.

Josh March then had a chance from a Danny Rose knock down. That was deflected over the top.

Piergianni slashed a volley wide and there were a couple of other minor scrambles but for all the possession and territory, this was not a day to remember.

It was summed up by the final minute of stoppage time as Roberts' shot cannoned off the post and the rebound was fired over an empty net.

And when the coach pulls out of the car park and heads home, there are some Boro players who will need to have a long, hard look at themselves into the mirror.


Stevenage: Savin, Clark, Piergianni, Sweeney, Norris (Rose 81), Roberts, Gilbey, Bostwick (Reeves 46), Jamie Reid (March 81), Tomkinson (Smith 33), Forster-Caskey (J.Taylor 33).

Subs (not used): Przybek, Campbell.

Booked: Clark 19


Rochdale: O'Donnell, M.Taylor, Ebanks-Landell, Rodney (Bennett 82), Odoh (Mellor 82), Keohone, Brierley, Quigley (Henderson 82), Dodgson, Lloyd (Diagouraga 77), Mullarkey.

Subs (not used): Eastwood, Seriki, Kelly.

Goals: Rodney 7, Lloyd 28


HT: Rochdale 2 Stevenage 0

Referee: Sebastian Stockbridge (Newcastle-upon-Tyne)

Attendance: 2,189