Devante Rodney’s first-half penalty secured Rochdale their first Sky Bet League Two victory of the season as they won 1-0 at Colchester without a manager.
Dale were by far the better team in the first half and they started brilliantly, with Kieran O’Hara saving from Tyrese Sinclair and also twice denying James Ball.
But the visitors finally took the lead in the 23rd minute through Rodney, who converted from the spot after O’Hara dropped Liam Kelly’s free-kick into the box and then brought Sinclair down.
Rochdale squandered a golden chance to double their lead just after the half-hour mark when unmarked Scott Quigley sent a free header from close range after another Kelly free kick.
Colchester improved after the break although O’Hara had to deflect Quigley’s effort at the near post with 13 minutes remaining.
The U’s had a golden opportunity to salvage a point in stoppage time when Kelly was found guilty of fouling Luke Hannant in the zone.
But Freddie Sears’ penalty was well saved by Richard O’Donnell, as Dale claimed a welcome victory.