It appears Rochdale have hit a dip in form at the wrong time of the season as they fell to their fourth straight defeat on Saturday, this time 2-0 at table toppers Luton Town.
The defeat leaves Dale five points from safety in the League One relegation zone with the number of games of the season left reducing rapidly.
For nearly an hour Rochdale held their own against a Luton Town side eyeing promotion to the Championship and continuing their remarkable rise from non-league in just a few short seasons.
Once again Keith Hill’s men had goalkeeper Andy Lonergan to thank for keeping them in the contest, the on-loan Middlesbrough man was forced into several saves first from James Collins just before halftime.
He then denied Pelly Ruddock just after the break before the Hatters’ finally got the goal their dominance deserved.
Jack Stacey provided the ball into the penalty area just before the hour mark with Elliot Lee rising above everybody else coming back off the crossbar straight into the path of Danny Hylton who made no mistake.
Luton almost made it 2-0 straight afterwards but Collins’ was once again denied as his header was clawed out by Lonergan.
Rochdale did have chances of their own, Zach Clough hit one from range but it went straight at James Shea who saved easily.
Then, with five minutes to go, Dale’s task got harder as on-loan Manchester United midfielder Ethan Hamilton was given his marching orders for a second yellow card.
Luton put the game to bed one minute into stoppage time, Collins finally finding a way past Lonergan by slamming the ball home from Kazenga LuaLua’s pinpoint pass.
The defeat leaves Rochdale 22nd in League One, five points from safety with a visit from Shrewsbury Town up next at the Crown Oil Arena on Saturday (9th March).