Winger Ian Henderson opened the scoring after just eight minutes, slamming the ball home after a fine breakaway run by George Donnelly.
Junior Brown could have leveled for the home team before the break, his 25-yard effort tipped over the bar by Josh Lillis.
And Dale doubled their advantage on the hour, the Fleetwood defence opening up in front of George Donnelly and although Scott Davies put his body in the way it was not enough to keep the ball from crossing the line.
Town were handed a lifeline with ten minutes to play, Michael Rose's scissor tackle on Jamille Matt earning Graham Alexander's men a penalty and a chance to keep their own play-off hopes alive.
Andy Mangan, returning from injury, stepped up to take it but Josh Lillis guessing correctly, diving to his right to deny the substitute.
Fleetwood's hopes of a comeback were ended when defender Nathan Pond was sent off for his involvement in a touchline altercation - Jason Kennedy rubbing salt into wounds with his late blast from inside the box.