Albion's return to League One started in defeat as Rochdale returned home with all three points thanks to Bradden Inman's first half brace of goals. Despite Liam Boyce reducing the deficit on 71 minutes Albion could not quite find an equaliser as Dale keeper Josh Lillis saved his side on numerous occ
Inman, in combination with skipper Ian Henderson had Albion on the back foot early on and two goals inside 22 minutes had the Brewers chasing the game.
Albion handed a debut to summer signing Scott Fraser who slotted straight into the midfield after overcoming a slight niggle in the days leadsing up to the season opener. All of Albion's other injury concerns seemed to have eased with John Brayford and Damien McCrory returning to the defence and Marvin Sordell restored to an attacking role on the left hand side.
Skipper Jake Buxton found himself in referee Darren Drysdale's notebook for a crunching challenge on Dale's Bradden Inman inside the centre circle as the attacker tried to turn smartly and set up an attack for the visitors.
Dale started brightly and grabbed the lead on ten minutes through INMAN. It was somewhat route one in its creation as a long ball was pumped up to Ian Henderson in the box and his cushioned header was into the path of his team mate who ran on to it, steering a first time effort wide of Stephen Bywater and in off the post. Not the start that Albion had wanted in their first home game of a new campaign.
Sordell had Albion's first real chance of the game on 14 minutes turning smartly onto Brayford's pass but dragging his shot wide of the upright without testing Josh Lillis in the Dale goal. Albion maintained the pressure and from a sloppily conceded corner Ben Turner headed back into the danger for Kyle McFadzean to volley not far over the bar.
Albion found themselves stung on the counter half way through the first period as the Henderson and Inman combination struck again. Albion were close to an equaliser through Fraser before Dale cleared their lines to Henderson on the left. Bursting forwards he slid the ball through on the angle for INMAN who composed himself before sliding the ball beyond Bywater to double Dale's advantage.
The Brewers continued to look bright on the edge of the Rochdale box but their finishing at this stage was lacking. Allen, busy in midfield linked with Liam Boyce to set up another chance for Fraser but his volley was always rising over the bar.
Albion had to find something in response and Sordell was denied by an excellent save from Lillis before Boyce found himself just inches away from connecting inside the box, the Irishman's frustrations evident as he beat the ground.
Ben Turner was next to threaten the Dale goal with a thumping header from a Sordell corner but Lillis again showed calmness to drop on the ball and snuff out the threat.
Matt Done almost gave Rochdale a third goal to celebrate and more good approach play but his angled drive whistled inches past the post on 39 minutes. It was a let off for Albion as they went in to half time just concentrating on a two goal deficit instead of anything worse.
Half time: Burton Albion 0-2 Rochdale
The second half saw a change for the Brewers as Ben Fox was introduced in place of Buxton, McFadzean switching back into defence. Albion quickly got on the attack as Sordell slipped a pass in to Fraser whose low shot was smothered by Lillis.
Albion continued to press and Lillis was called upon to deny Fraser again as he tried to bustle his way through on 55 minutes, the keeper standing tall to block a low effort that was just too close to him.
Fox went into the book on the hour mark after a clumsy challenge on Callum Camps following a moment of hesitation in midfield as Albion were starting to unsettle the Dale defence.
Inman flashed a snapshot wide of the target shortly afterwards as he went in search of a hat-trick but it was the last meaningful action for the midfielder as he was replaced by Joe Thompson, scorer of the goal that secured Dale's survival last season.
Brayford saw a stinging effort blocked inside the area but Albion's pressure was begging to pay off and they got themselves back into the game on 71 minutes. Lucas Akins, often an openind day scorer for Albion in recent seasons forced an awkward save from Lillis but the Dale keeper was powerless to stop BOYCE slotting home the rebound.
Albion tails were up now and Sordell was denied by Lillis low to his right as Albion looked to build on their momentum and the Albion striker was again denied by the Rochdale keeper from a stinging left foot shot.
Nigel Clough sent on David Templeton late on in a central role, replacing Jamie Allen and he quickly played a part linking with Boyce and Sordell for the latter to eventually scoop a shot over as Boyce ran around into space looking for the return.
Lillis made another outstanding save to deny Sordell at the far post after good work from Fraser on the left but despite a rousing finish Albion just couldnt find an equaliser.