|Rochdale 0 v 0 Boston United|
Sunday, 1st December 2019 Kick-off 14:00
Match Preview: Dale vs Boston United (FA Cup)
Thursday, 28th Nov 2019 15:00 by AtThePeake
Dale look to the FA Cup to provide a welcome distraction from their dreadful League One form on Sunday as they welcome sixth-tier Boston United to Spotland.
Date: Sunday 1st December
And with performances and results really starting to drag the atmosphere down at Spotland in the league this season, boss Brian Barry-Murphy will be hoping another journey into the Third Round of the FA Cup can help rejuvenate the squad - and the fanbase over the next few weeks.
A run of five consecutive defeats have seen Dale slip to 16th in the table, just six points clear of the relegation zone, but it's well worth noting the standard of opposition in that run. Ipswich, Coventry and Oxford all occupy top six spots, whilst Portsmouth currently sit in 10th but will expect to finish much higher come the end of the campaign.
Most supporters seem to be well aware that this is the case which is perhaps why the majority of the vitriol from the supporters seem to be based around the two performances against Wrexham in the first round of this competition. Despite being two divisions above their Welsh opponents, Dale created very little and eventually managed just one goal over the course of 180 minutes against the Red Dragons and in the end were perhaps lucky to find a way through to the next round.
Another aspect of this poor run of form is undoubtedly the lack of options we appear to have in the squad at the moment due to injuries. The complete lack of experience on the bench against Pompey was an indicator of just how bad the injury crisis that Barry-Murphy is experiencing is at the moment. Rather than trying to estimate who is out and who will return for this game we'll just give you a full list of the players who missed out versus Pompey either definitely or presumably through injury:
Hopefully, a few of those men are back in contention for this game and a confident, comfortable display will give us reason to be optimistic ahead of yet more difficult league fixtures away against Rotherham and Burton Albion before Christmas.
Don't count on it though...
The Pilgrims were promoted to the Football League for the first time in 2002 and were mostly managed by Steve Evans, who remained fiercely unpopular around the rest of the league. In those years, Dale endured some tough afternoons at York Street, winning just once on their five visits to the Lincolnshire (or 'Bostonshire', if you were to believe the huge flag their supporters used to bring to Spotland). Incidentally, this will be the club's final season at the stadium as they prepare to move into a new ground on the edge of town currently known as 'The Quadrant.'
At home however, we enjoyed some rather happier times and the last meeting between the two sides, one of the first games played under the caretaker stewardship of Keith Hill, resulted in a thumping 4-0 win thanks to goals from Gary Jones, Chris Dagnall, William Mocquet and Glenn Murray (oh but for some of those players in their prime in this current squad!)
Seemingly constantly surrounded by financial issues and controversy during their time in the league, particularly when they briefly brought in Paul Gascoigne for an ill-fated three month spell, it will have been of little surprise to many to have seen the Pilgrims handed rather strict punishments following relegation in 2007. They were firstly sent down two divisions to the sixth tier that summer, before being relegated again the season after, despite finishing 10th, due to further financial issues.
Having won promotion back into the National League North in only their second season in the Northern Premier League, the Pilgrims have remained in the sixth tier ever since, losing out in the play-offs a couple of times as they looked to progress back up the pyramid in a more sustainable way having almost gone out of business previously.
This season they currently occupy fifth place in the table and look set for another play-off finish at the very least. Managed by Craig Elliott, who won three promotions in four years with former club Shaw Lane, the Pilgrims are in strong form and have won four FA Cup ties already this season against Carshalton in the first round and Hednesford, Sutton Coldfield and Stamford.
Amongst the names that Dale fans may recognise within this Boston squad are winger Martyn Woolford, who spent time with the likes of Millwall, Bristol City and Scunthorpe United in the EFL as well as striker Dominic Knowles, formerly of Burton Albion. Jordan Thewlis meanwhile will have to be watched closely - he's racked up 10 goals in 14 league games so far this term.
In good form in the league and in high spirits ahead of their move to a new stadium, Boston will head to Spotland looking to cause an upset on Sunday with the big boys coming into the draw in the next round. We'll have to be focused and prepared in order to avoid a rather embarrassing cup upset here.
07 May 2005 - Boston United 1-1 Rochdale - League Two
Photo: Action Images
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