A bright start from 'Dale was rewarded when Scott Hogan fired the home side in front after 12 minutes. Peter Vincenti adding a second just after the restart.
Rovers were made to work hard by lively opposition but a first goal from DJ Campbell reduced arrears just sixty seconds after his introduction, latching onto Alan Judge's pull back to steer home.
Just when it looked like Gary Bowyer's side would be tasting their first pre-season defeat up stepped Morten Gamst Pedersen to curl an injury-time free-kick into the bottom corner of the net.
It was the home side who started the match the brighter of the two sides at Spotland testing Rovers from the off.
Just a minute was on the clock when Jake Kean's goal was threatened, the ball was worked well down the Rochdale left and Michael Rose's deep cross was headed narrowly wide by Peter Vincenti.
On five Vincenti tried his luck once more, but his 25-yard effort was well dealt with by Kean.
The Rovers goalkeeper was called into action once more just two minutes later. Scott Hogan cutting inside onto his left foot to shoot near post saved well.
With Dale on top the goal inevitably arrived on 12 minutes. Hesitant defending on the left allowed Scott Hogan to get the better of Scott Dann before firing hard and low across Kean into the bottom corner of the net.
It was a goal that had been coming but it was disappointing nevertheless.
Rochdale had started with a good tempo to the game and it took a while for Rovers to come into the match but the second half of the first 45 saw Gary Bowyer's side start to impose themselves.
On 25 good play from Chris Taylor saw the former Millwall man feed Josh Morris and his cross into the area was met by a flying Jordan Rhodes but his header went narrowly over.
A strong run from Leon Best past the half hour saw the striker upended just outside the box. Alan Judge struck a lovely curling free-kick that beat Rob Thomson in the Rochdale goal but the ball slammed off the post and away to safety.
That patterned continued as the half drew to a close as Rovers forced the pace but Rochdale held onto their early lead.
Matt Kilgallon was given his Rovers bow as a substitute at the start of the second half, replacing Josh Morris at left back.
But no sooner had the game got back under way that the home side had doubled their lead. Bastien Hery with a ball across the area, Hogan missed his connection and that allowed Peter Vincente time and space to run in and finish past Kean.
Rovers had two chances in the space of two minutes to reduce arrears at Spotland. Firstly on 56 minutes an Alan Judge corner kick was met by the head of Scott Dann which was blocked, the Rovers captain followed it up but Thomson saved well.
Then a deep free kick from Alan Judge found Leon Best at the back post, he nodded across goal for Jordan Rhodes, but the striker mis-timed his header and put the ball wide of goal.
On the hour Josh King and Dj Campbell were introduced and within 60 seconds striker Campbell would have his first Rovers goal.
Alex Marrow played a through ball that Alan Judge chased into the area, he pulled the ball back from the byline to where DJ Campbell was able to steer the ball into the corner of the goal.
On 64 it was almost 2-2, a quick corner from Josh King almost catching out the home side as Matt Kilgallon arrowed a header goalwards but quick reactions from Thomson saved the day.
Rochdale went close to a third from one of their substitutes as Matt Done's shot deflected up off Scott Dann requiring Jake Kean to tip over acrobatically. It was the Rovers' 'keeper's last involvement as Gary Bowyer made a further eight changes.
Simon Eastwood, Bradley Orr, Jack O'Connell, Raheem Hanley, Mauro Formica, Morten Gamst Pedersen, Diogo Rosado and Fabio Nunes all given the final quarter hour.
Josh King's centre was volleyed goalwards by Mauro Formica but Ollie Lancashire blocked well before King himself saw a shot deflect just wide of goal.
Rovers continued to press for an equaliser and when DJ Campbell had been fouled 20 yards out in added time their efforts were rewarded when Morten Gamst Pedersen hit a trademark free-kick beyond Thomson and into the back of the net.
DALE: Thomson, Rafferty, Cavanagh (c), Eastham, Lancashire, Vincenti (sub Bunney 71 mins), Hogan (sub Done 71 mins), Lund (sub Donnelly 59 mins), Hery (sub Tutte 59 mins), Rose, Henderson (sub Allen 77 mins).
Subs:Donnelly, Maynard, Vidal, Barry-Murphy, Collis.
ROVERS: Kean (sub Eastwood 77 mins), Kane (sub Orr 77 mins), Dann (c) (sub O'Connell 77 mins), Hanley (Sub R. Hanley 77 mins), Morris (sub Kilgallon 46 mins), Judge (sub Formica 77 mins), Lowe (sub Pedersen 77 mins), Marrow (sub Rosado 77 mins), Taylor (sub King 60 mins), Best (sub Campbell 60 mins), Rhodes (sub Fabio Nunes 77 mins).