Warm sunshine bathed Spotland for our fourth pre-season friendly as those who didn't play at Mansfield on Wednesday night were in from the start today.

Connor Roberts was at right-back and Fabio on the opposite flank while further up the field Adama Traore hugged the right wing and Marcus Tavernier the left, sparing him the job of coming up against his former Boro Academy team mate Mark Kitching, now doing good things with Rochdale.

Traore set up the first chance of the game, darting into the box to play in Martin Braithwaite who didn't make good contact inside the box.

Garry Monk was forced into a change with just 14 minutes played when Ben Gibson, blood covering the front of his shirt and still seeping out of a nose stuffed with cotton wool, was replaced by Dael Fry after being caught in an accidental collision. 

Dale pressed and seconds after Roberts produced an excellently-timed tackle to block a low shot from Jordan Williams, Andy Cannon brought a, comfortable, save from Connor Ripley.

The Boro 'keeper, who enjoyed a successful time just a few miles away from here at Oldham last season, was well placed to watch a 25-yard effort from Jamie Allen fizz just over the bar.

The League One side had shaped up well and played some incisive stuff, but it was their 'keeper Josh Lillis who was forced into two saves in a minute approaching the end of the first half, both away to his left as he gathered shots from Braithwaite and Traore.

Fabio was replaced by George Friend, while there was a Boro debut for Britt Assombalonga, our record signing sent on as replacement for Rudy Gestede.

Both changes were made at the start of the second half, but it was Dale who made the breakthrough with 51 minutes played when a free-kick was whipped in from the left and Daniel Ayala headed into his own goal.

Assombalonga twice went close to levelling, heading just wide and inches over.

Braithwaite was the next with a half chance, though he couldn't keep the ball down when meeting a Friend set-up.

With three minutes remaining Boro were caught out at the back and from a fairly central position close to the edge of the box Ollie Rathbone stroked home Dale's second.

But for a fine tip over from Ripley to deny Brad Inman, it would have been three.

Rochdale Lillis; McNulty, McGahey, Brown, Camps (Andrew 70), Williams (Inman 65), Rathbone, Allen, Cannon, Kitching (Trialist 57), Henderson (Capt. to 74) (Davies 74). Subs Wade (gk); Canavan, Keane, Adshead, Morley, Gillam.

Boro Ripley; Roberts, Ayala, Gibson (Capt. to 14) (Fry 14), Fabio (Friend 46), Traore (Soisalo 74), De Roon, Clayton (Capt. from 14), Tavernier (Chapman 58), Braithwaite, Gestede (Assombalonga 46). Subs James (gk).

Referee Mr D Handley. Lancashire.
Yellow Cards De Roon 55, foul

Attendance 1,608 (571 Boro)