North End concluded their pre-season fixture programme with a 1-1 draw at Spotland.
North End took the lead on the stroke of half-time, Tom Clarke – who had got his head on the end of a trio of first half set pieces – finding the net from Lee Holmes’ right wing inswinging free kick.
But Scott Hogan poked home from close range just seven minutes into the second period to level matters up one week ahead of the big kick-off for both sides.
The game to that point had been played at a high tempo without too much goalmouth action. Manager Simon Grayson had started a completely different XI to the one that had won 1-0 at Hartlepool the night before, with everyone playing for a place against Wolves in the big kick-off.
North End’s best two early chances came through left back David Buchanan. The first on 24 minutes saw North End have a free kick in a left hand channel, Lee Holmes’ ball came back off the wall, but Chris Humphrey made a break down the right and delivered to the back post for Kevin Davies to lay the ball off for the No.16, but the full back fired wide of the left hand post.
Four minutes later and he went closer – the same combination, Davies cleverly laying the ball off for the former Rochdale man, but he couldn’t mark his return to Spotland with a goal, firing into the midriff of Dale keeper Josh Lillis under some pressure.
Just before the half hour mark Clarke signalled the danger that was to come; a great run down the right from Humphrey won a PNE corner. Holmes swung the ball in from the right and Clarke met the ball, but could only head downwards and into the keeper’s hands.
A rare threat from the home side saw Rudd needed to save George Donnelly’s snap shot from a tight angle on 30 minutes, but it was North End who deservedly had the lead just before the interval.
Humphrey was fouled by Oliver Lancashire just a couple of yards outside the right hand corner of the Rochdale penalty area. Lee Holmes again delivered the ball, this time a deep one to the back post where Clarke was on hand to head back across goal, over the packed six yard box and looping into the right hand inside netting.
The Lilywhites started the second half in lively fashion; a brace of corners and then Iain Hume firing across the face of the goal from a narrow angle showing their intent.
However, the home side were level on 52 minutes, Scott Hogan poking home after a ricochet in the box from a ball in down the right.
Iain Hume almost put North End back in front with a 20 yard drive that flew like an arrow, but inches past the left hand upright with Josh Lillis beaten on 56 minutes.
Just after the hour mark Lillis was again tested, this time by a 25 yard curling free kick from Lee Holmes, that was brilliantly lifted up and over the wall, but collected by the keeper right out of the top corner.
Andrew Tutte forced a fine save out of Declan Rudd at the mid-point in the second period, the low effort coming after a clever quick free kick by the home side.
Kevin Davies powered a header just over the bar with ten minutes left, a late run intot he box timed perfectly to meet David Buchanan's pacy cross from the left after a good overlapping run by the No.16.
Declan Rudd was needed to make a fine one-on-one save from former Lancaster frontman Joe Bunney with five minutes left, but neither side could create a winner and ended their match preparations with a share of the spoils.
: Lillis, Rafferty, Cavanagh (Allen, 84), Lancashire (Eastham, 53), Vincenti (Bunney, 74), Donnelly, Hogan (Hery, 53), Lund (Tutte, 53), Done (Rose, 69), O’Connell, Henderson. Subs not used: Barry-Murphy, Thomson, Logan.Rochdale line-up
: Rudd, Keane, Buchanan, King, Clarke, Wright, Humphrey (Hayhurst, 84), Welsh © (Wroe, 65), K Davies, Hume (Mousinho, 73), Holmes. Subs not used: Stuckmann, Huntington, Garner, Laird, Monakana.PNE line-up
: 1,064 (208 away fans)Attendance
: Mr D WhitestoneReferee