Jim Bentley backed his Rochdale side to get better and stronger after they claimed their first Sky Bet League Two victory of the season with a 1-0 win at managerless Colchester.
Devante Rodney bagged Dale’s winner in the 23rd minute, converting from the spot after Colchester goalkeeper Kieran O’Hara had dropped Liam Kelly’s free-kick in the box and then fouled Tyrese Sinclair.
Rochdale were indebted to keeper Richard O’Donnell following his stoppage-time penalty save from Freddie Sears, after Kelly had fouled substitute Luke Hannant in the box.
Rochdale boss Bentley said: “It was massive that we get a win and it’s been a long time coming.
“I think we’ll get better and fitter and stronger but you can’t ask for any more away from home: a win, a clean sheet and we worked hard, scored a goal and could have had a couple more and Rich saved a penalty.
“If I’m being critical, we probably should have been more than 1-0 up at half-time.
“But there were a lot of nerves; bottom of the table, against a team struggling themselves, new manager in the week, away from home, home form etc.
“It’s difficult to try and play better with the ball but we dug in and we kept working hard and putting bodies on the line and that was typified with Richie’s save right at the end from the penalty and Sam Graham following in.
“We’ve spoken about that at both ends.”
Colchester were second best in the first half, with O’Hara twice denying James Ball and Scott Quigley heading over.
The hosts improved after half-time, although O’Hara deflected Quigley’s effort onto the near post.
However, they slumped to defeat and are now winless in six, as they hunt for a new permanent head coach.
Colchester interim boss Steve Ball said: “We’re really early into a season and the games have panned out where the first goal is crucial.
“I think it’s a competitive squad for a new manager coming in.
“We’ve got a really deep squad and there are options and quality in all areas for the new manager that comes in.
“He’ll have some good players to pick from and it’s just the matter of getting the right formula, to start winning games.
“It’s early days and we have to stay positive.
“We’re only in October and we’ve seen teams over the years put runs together and move into the top 10, so hopefully we’ll do that soon.
“I must say the crowd were great in the second half and got right behind the group, so that must keep doing that.
“With our penalty, Freddie is a proven goalscorer – the keeper has guessed right and it wasn’t to be.”
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