Stanley were made to rue a number of missed chances after falling to a 1-0 home defeat against Rochdale.

John Coleman’s side had looked the more likely to score in an energetic encounter at the Wham Stadium, but Oliver Rathbone scored the only goal of the game for the visitors in the 71st minute.

The result means Rochdale move level on points with Stanley in the battle to avoid the drop in League One, and the Reds are now two points above the relegation zone.

Coleman made two changes to the side that drew at Wimbledon last Saturday, with Dan Barlaser and Luke Armstrong both called upon to start.

Stanley flew out of the traps, showing real passion and determination in all areas of the pitch as they searched for the opening goal.

In the 12th minute Armstrong headed over the bar after Sean McConville hit a fierce shot at goal that goalkeeper Josh Lillis could only parry into the air.

Two minutes later, Barlaser hit a low shot from range that was saved before Jordan Clark saw a shot blocked by Jimmy McNulty after racing onto Armstrong’s clever ball.

Stanley shot-stopper Dimitar Evtimov was then called upon to prevent Rochdale taking the lead against the run of play in the 22nd minute, diving to his left and making a brilliant one-handed save to stop McLaughlin’s effort from distance.

The Reds had more chances as the first half drew to close, Clark first shooting wide and then again over the bar with the game goalless at the break.

Stanley had to absorb pressure from the visitors in the first 10 minutes of the second period and were fortunate not to fall behind after the ball was allowed to roll across the box to the oncoming Kgosi Ntlhe, but his shot went wide.

Lillis did well to get down and prevent Armstrong putting the Reds ahead just after the hourmark, but 10 minutes later it was the visitors who eventually took the lead.

Attacking in numbers, Aaron Wilbraham was held up by the Reds defence but not dispossessed, and the ball was rolled towards Rathbone who fired into the net.

Stanley pressed Rochdale back, camping outside the visitors’ penalty area, before Ross Sykes headed inches wide of the left post nine minutes from time.

The Reds attacked with urgency in the final stages, but failed to really test Lillis despite heavy pressure.