Rochdale 0 Chester City 0

Two in-form sides with unbeaten runs to protect cancelled each other out in a hard-fought game that was dominated by defenders at Spotland.

Rochdale came into the game on the back of a 5-0 win at Darlington, but never reproduced the form from that game and simply didn't threaten a Chester rearguard that was superbly marshalled by Dave Artell.

Though the play ebbed and flowed from end-to-end neither side showed a cutting edge and in consequence both keepers had untroubled afternoons.

Rochdale started brightly and could have scored inside the first 90 seconds when Chester keeper John Danby failed to deal with a Lee Crooks corner, but defender James Sharp volleyed over from 12 yards out.

Slowly but surely Chester, with veteran Spaniard Roberto Martinez pulling the strings, took control and went the nearest to breaking the deadlock on 20 minutes.

A well-worked short corner resulted in a Martinez cross and a thumping header from Artell that rattled the crossbar.

Rochdale started the second half the brighter with two half chances in a minute for giant Frenchman Morike Sako seeing his first effort saved and his second hit the side netting.

It wasn't until the dying minutes that Rochdale produced any sustained pressure, but with Artell winning everything in the air his side never looked like conceding.

With the referee playing seven minutes of time added on Rochdale had two free-kicks in dangerous areas, both of which were wasted with Alan Goodall and then Crooks both firing over the crossbar.