ROCHDALIANS 2 MELLOR 0
Rochdalians confirmed themselves as Premier League title favourites with a 2-0 home win but Mellor were left to regret missed chances.
The men in stripes deserved their victory. But Mellor made them work hard and might have snatched something from the game.
Mellor lined up in a 5-3-2 formation.
But the accent on defence meant that Rochdalians had the bulk of possession in the first half and Mellor's attacking options were limited.
Winger Kev Cooney went in goal after the late withdrawal of Luke Smith and acquitted himself well.
Rochdalians started brightly and dominated the early exchanges.
Chris Coram suffered a blow to the head early on but soon recovered.
The home side were enjoying space on the right flank and it was a dangerous cross from this side on nine minutes that needed a flick header from Ben Beer to avert a possible goal.
On 11 minutes Mellor had a free kick in a threatening position but Matt Jamieson's cross was headed clear.
A minute later Kev Cooney made a terrific save but the forward was offside anyway.
Rochdalians should have taken the lead on 12 minutes but headed over from a good position after another right wing free kick.
Coram then sent Wade clear on the left but the keeper had to sprint from his goal to hoof the ball into touch.
On 18 minutes the home side's striker broke away, chipped Cooney but watched in agony as the ball bounced and then cleared the bar with the goal gaping.
Two minutes later Jamieson slashed at a volley and sent the ball wide.
Mellor were getting no joy in the air from the home side's giant centre back.
And the passing from the men in blue lacked the necessary precision in the final third.
On 25 minutes Rochdalians had the ball in the net but the strike was ruled out for handball in the build up.
Wade was blocked off when in a promising position on 30 minutes.
Tom Byrne then made a terrific tackle to deny a home forward.
Kev Cooney was in action again on 31 minutes punching a corner clear under great pressure.
But a minute later after another right wing cross the home side went ahead.
Matt Jamieson hit a sweet 25 yarder on 35 minutes that the home keeper had to flip over the bar.
A minute after the re-start the Rochdalians' keeper made an error and had to concede a corner but it came to nothing.
A second corner two minutes later was headed just over by Matt Cotton from six yards out. A good chance.
Mellor's big moment came on 50 minutes. Jack Hilton fed Dave Whelan whose well struck shot from 12 yards stuck to the keeper.
A goal then might have changed the pattern of the game.
Instead, on 52 minutes Rochdalians made it 2-0 with a deep cross from the left wing that was bundled in at the far post.
On 57 minutes Cooney made a great save in a one-on-one.
Two minutes later Man of the Match Matt Cotton made a mistake in trying to clear the ball but recovered immediately to make an amazing goalline block when a third goal looked certain.
Adam Barlow replaced Wade on 60 minutes and inspired a promising Mellor rally.
On 62 minutes Jamieson chased a ball into the area in the inside right channel, but in rounding the keeper had to spin and shoot and put his drive a foot too high as defenders scrambled back.
Jamieson then played in Barlow whose shot was saved with difficulty.
On 67 minutes Barlow made a wonderful run right to left which ended in a pass to Mark Oldham whose cross was too high for Jamieson.
Barlow then tricked his way into a shooting position in a crowded area but the keeper got down well low on his right hand post to turn the ball for a corner.
This was Mellor's best spell and on 75 minutes the home keeper spilled a Whelan free kick but recovered before the Mellor attackers could pounce.
On 77 minutes Rob White replaced Beer.
Rochdalians steadied the ship and Mellor's assaults eventually petered out.
Craig Frisby replaced Jamieson for the last five minutes but the home side closed the game out.
Details of the Thirds and Fourths follow below.
Dave Whelan's shot is miraculously saved with Wade waiting to pounce on an error
Matt Jamieson spins and shoots a foot over
Matt Cotton and Ben Beer attack a corner
Ben Wade on the attack
Dave Whelan just can't reach a corner
The Thirds played Ashtonians away in the Whitehead Cup, the last of the league basis games and won 5-1 to progress to the quarter finals.
Ironically they inadvertently put arch rivals Bedians through.
Had they won by fewer goals Ashtonians would have benefitted.
Man of the Match Jack Kuehl scored, along with Lewis Jeffs, Rick Axford, Steve Baguley and Jimmy Archer.
The Fourths travelled to Bury Amateurs and lost 4-2. There was confusion at the start with a car arriving late so Andy Given had to go in goal.
Phil Brown replaced him in net later and Given went on to score along with Luke Jubb.
Kyle Davidson was Mellor's star man.