Darren Ferguson hailed Peterborough United's appetite for a scrap after a Kyle Vassell goal fired his team to a 1-0 win at Rochdale.

Vassell's 61st-minute effort put paid to plucky Dale's resistance and the Posh boss said the qualities his team showed in toiling for victory would stand them in good stead for the remainder of the campaign.

"I thought we were magnificent in terms of our battling qualities because this was a tough game against a newly-promoted team away from home," said Ferguson, whose father, former Manchester United boss Sir Alex, was among the crowd at Spotland.

"In the opening period we played really well - we were excellent for the first 20 minutes. But then we just gave the ball away too many times and it became end to end.

``We looked a bit disjointed at the end with Gabriel Zakuani doing his hamstring and Kgosi Ntlhe suffering cramp. We showed great battling qualities and we will need those qualities throughout the course of the season.

"At times during the game I felt we tried to get in there a little bit too quickly rather than keeping the ball a bit longer. When we did that we caused them problems. But you want to win the first game of the season and we have achieved that."

Nathaniel Mendez-Laing saw a 20-yard curling shot pushed over by Josh Lillis and the Posh wideman beat the Rochdale goalkeeper from similar distance soon afterwards but was frustrated again as the ball struck the underside of the crossbar.

The home side finished the first half strongly, Rhys Bennett controlled Joe Rafferty's pass and forced a great save from Ben Alwick with a smart turn and shot towards the top corner of the net. Alwick parried Ian Henderson's long-range drive and then smothered a George Donnelly volley.

Ferguson's men took the lead just after the hour mark when Conor Washington teed-up Vassell for a simple finish from six yards out.

Donnelly had Dale's best chance when he raced clear into the area only to shoot horribly off target.

Dale boss Keith Hill said: "You can play well and lose and we don't want to get tagged as being a side that plays well but loses. There was a lot of bravery and a lot to be encouraged by in that performance, but the bottom line says that we were beaten 1-0.

"We were beaten by a very good side - Peterborough are expected to be one of the promotion contenders - and we held our own. But it's the small details, the lack of concentration at times that can undo you in League One.

``It becomes even harder in the Championship and harder still when you play in the Premier League."