Brian Barry-Murphy was relieved to see his side finally break through a stubborn defence as they registered a 1-1 draw against Northampton.
The Dale boss admitted his side had struggled in recent games against teams who had taken the lead and sat deep – just as the Cobblers did after Harry Smith headed them in front 19 minutes into the clash at the Crown Oil Arena.
Barry-Murphy had witnessed his side concede a 92nd-minute goal in a 1-0 defeat at home to Wimbledon at the weekend and this game looked set to finish in a third successive League One loss – until Stephen Humphrys smashed a stunning 88th-minute free-kick into the top corner of Jonathan Mitchell’s goal.
“From my point of view it was a very enjoyable game to watch – that view may be influenced by the fact we got the equaliser right at the very end!” said Barry-Murphy.
“We’ve had a couple of cases in recent weeks where we’ve had similar games and similar patterns of teams scoring and defending deep against us and we haven’t managed to break them down, so to finally get a goal for our efforts was a huge reward for everybody.
“End product is still something that we consistently want to improve and just because we got the goal and a result, I definitely felt we could do a lot better in that sense.”
Rochdale dominated possession throughout the game, starting brightly only to be pegged back after 19 minutes when Smith met Mark Marshall’s corner and powered a header into the roof of the net.
Alex Newby tested Mitchell with a set-piece from distance while Humphrys was narrowly off target with another free-kick.
But for all Dale’s possession of the ball, it was Smith who came closest to a second when he met another Marshall centre, this time his header lacking power to beat Jay Lynch.
After the break Dale brought on Kwadwo Baah and he helped turn momentum their way, winning the free-kick from which Humphrys rifled home.
Northampton Town manager Keith Curle was satisfied to take a draw.
He said: “A point on the road is very pleasing. We knew they could dominate possession but the important thing for us was to protect our goalkeeper and defend as a unit.
“I thought we showed good discipline and understanding of the shape, scored a goal and the one disappointment was we had a few opportunities to put the ball in the box from set-pieces and we didn’t, we tried to be over-creative.
“We have some good aggressive players who want to attack the ball – so just put it in!
“That’s just one defeat in five for us now, we’ve been on a decent run and long may that continue.
“Coming here and picking up a solid point with a solid performance, an organised, disciplined performance lays the foundation to give you the opportunity to gain more points.”