Town suffered a heavy 4-0 defeat to Rochdale at the Crown Oil Arena in the Sky Bet League One earlier this afternoon.
Both sides fashioned chances in a frantic start to proceedings with John Goddard forcing Conrad Logan into an early save, before Nathaniel Mendez-Laing was inches away from firing his side into the lead at the other end.
Joe Bunney was on hand to head the home side into the lead and they had further chances to extend their advantage but had to settle for just a one-goal lead at the break.
Dale ran riot in the second-half and ran out comfortable winners thanks to a Steven Davies brace and a Matty Lund effort.
Town made four changes from the side that bowed out of the FA Cup to Eastleigh in midweek, with Anton Rodgers, Tom Smith, Brad Barry and Jon Obika all returning to the fold.
Obika, who was featuring for the first time since October, was tasked with leading the line in a 4-3-3 formation whilst Doughty skippered the Reds for the very first time.
Town flexed their attacking muscles from the off and created the game’s first clear-cut opportunity with just a few minutes on the clock with John Goddard seeing his effort being pushed away to safety by Conrad Logan.
Anton Rodgers was then played in perfectly by Michael Doughty moments later but couldn’t get a clean strike away, before it was Dale’s turn to try their luck in-front of goal.
Oliver Rathbone latched onto a clever header and proceeded to evade a couple of challenges before finding Nathaniel Mendez-Laing in acres of space, but the striker could only hammer a well-struck volley wide.
The tempo of the game had calmed down a touch but the two sides were still trying to force the issue with Doughty’s free-kick dropping wide of the post before Matthew Lund thudded wide for the hosts.
And it was Dale who hit the back of the net first after Joe Bunney rose highest to thump home a header from Callum Camps’ pinpoint cross.
It could have been even better for the hosts as Lund flashed an effort inches wide past the post, before Goddard was denied by Logan once more at the other end as an eventful first-half came to a close.
Town continued to struggle to find their groove after the break and were left breathing a collective sigh of relief just five minutes into the second-half after Mendez-Laing burst clean through on goal, only to chip the ball over the frame of the goal.
However, Town were unable to keep their rampant hosts at bay for long and Dale deservedly doubled their lead after Lund stabbed home from close-range with the Reds unable to clear Joe Rafferty’s free-kick.
And Dale added a third just mere minutes later courtesy of second-half substitute Steven Davies, who forced a fine save from Lawrence Vigouroux before prodding home the rebound.
Rochdale were then awarded a penalty past the hour mark after Ormonde-Ottewill was adjudged to have brought down Davies inside the area, and the striker dusted himself off to beat Vigouroux from the spot.
Town did muster up an attack but were unable to pull one back with Ellis Iandolo sending a header straight at Logan, before Doughty was off-target with a free-kick.
Ian Henderson sent a low effort straight at Vigouroux as the game entered its closing stages, before the forward tested the stopper once more with a firm header, which proved to be the final action of the game.
TEAMS AND STATS:
SCORERS –Joe Bunney (28), Matthew Lund (55), Steven Davies (57, 65).
ROCHDALE –Logan; Rafferty, McNulty, Keane (Harrison McGahey 45), Bunney; Lund, Camps (C); Rathbone (Ian Henderson 74), Noble Lazarus (Steven Davies 54); Mendez-Laing, Thompson.
Subs Not Used –Lillis, Tanser, Morley, Odelusi.
TOWN –Vigouroux; Furlong, Rossi-Branco, Jones, Ormonde-Ottewill; Rodgers (Ellis Iandolo 68), Smith, Doughty (C); Barry (Luke Norris 52), Obika (Nathan Delfouneso 59), Goddard.
Subs Not Used –Henry, Evans, Thomas, Murray.
Referee –Darren Handley
ROCHDALE –Oliver Rathbone, Joe Bunney.
TOWN –Anton Rodgers, Michael Doughty, Raphael Rossi-Branco.