"In the midst of the dale"
We continue the amazing (and unexpected) start to the season with a trip to Spotland, where Maz Kouhyar’s late late goal got a point for us in our most recent game there last December. On current form this might be a relatively easy 3 points for the Saddlers, but of such matches are banana skins spoken, and Rochdale’s League One position (hovering around the relegation zone) can be expected to supply a degree of fighting motivation not seen thus far, if you take on board their fans’ reactions. Rochdale’s current form away from home is actually very good, undefeated in fact, but at Spotland they’ve been a model of consistency, conceding 4 goals in both games - although it should be allowed that the opposition has been promotion material…
Aug 4th Burton Albion (A) Won 1-2
Aug 11th Peterborough United (H) Lost 1-4
Aug 14th Grimsby Town (EFL Cup) (A) Won 0-2
Aug 18th Fleetwood Town (A) Drew 2-2
Aug 21st Barnsley (H) Lost 0-4
Their fortunes in the Barnsley game took a further nosedive when goalkeeper Josh Lillis had to be substituted after an hour because of an injury. Wags on the Rochdale message board pointed out that his bad back was due to having to pick the ball out of the net so many times. His replacement was Magnus Norman (on loan from Fulham) so he may possibly start on Saturday. Other comments on the general performance contained words like “statuesque”, “shambles” and “the local under-9’s side would have more about them”…
Dean Keates has the pleasant headache of deciding which eleven of his squad of winners will start, and after Kieron Morris’s return to the form of old (and his goal at Wimbledon) it’s a toss-up whether a fit Zeli Ismail would automatically resume his place. The rest of the team virtually selects itself, and it would seem that motivation is now the major factor in repeating the performances seen so far.
Prediction? Casting aside the obvious banana-skin nature of this game, I’ll go for a 0-2 away win, with Ferrier and Cook re-inforcing their ever-improving double act partnership.