But two late goals salvaged a point from a match which was always exciting and usually good.
Chester who were beaten at home by Rochdale earlier in the season looked intent on revenge and looked like getting it when after 19 minutes Phil Bolland crashed the ball into the Rochdale net after their own defence had hesitated and blundered as they tried to clear the ball.
What was bad became worse after 63 minutes when a corner from the left was passed on by Marcus Richardson for Ben Davies to get number two after 63 minutes.
But never say die Rochdale came back and Blair Sturrock turned a cross from the right into the net after 69 minutes.
That was the signal for a determined bid by Rochdale to salvage something and with nine minutes left Rochdale were level.
Manager Steve Parkin must have had a moment of inspiration when he brought on his "David Beckham" free-kick taker Ricky Lambert.
Lambert had been on the pitch only a few seconds when Rochdale got a close end free kick and Lambert banged the ball home for an 81st minute equaliser.
What was good could have been even better for the home side when Alan Goodall slipped on the hard pitch as he went for a winner and again when Lambert just failed to get home with a last minute header.
Chester had not been inactive in attack in the late stages and Richardson and Davies both came close late on.
Nobody could grumble about the result. Chester had a good first half but Rochdale clawed their way back in the second and a little more careful shooting by either side could have produced a positive result.