|Burton Albion 3 v 1 Rochdale|
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 21st December 2019 Kick-off 15:00
Match Preview: Burton vs Dale
Thursday, 19th Dec 2019 13:58 by AtThePeake
Dale look to pick up their third consecutive win from three consecutive away fixtures as they head to Burton Albion on Saturday afternoon.
Date: Saturday 21st December
Well, not quite. Although the performance at Rotherham is certainly to be praised, on another day we could easily have left the New York Stadium with nil points on a different day. And the performance at York Street wasn't exactly inspiring, with a dreadful own goal and an Aaron Morley penalty eventually being enough for the lads to scrape through against National League North outfit Boston at the second time of asking.
So it's not exactly all rosy going into the Christmas period and to make matters worse, the injury problems only seem to grow. Worryingly, captain, leading scorer and all-round hero Ian Henderson was subbed off in the early stages of that win over the Pilgrims on Monday night. Paul McShane, Tyler Magloire, Ryan McLaughlin, Jim McNulty and Oliver Rathbone all missed out on the squad again for that trip to Lincolnshire too.
It was however, encouraging to see Stephen Dooley come off the bench and provide a creative spark, winning the penalty that Morley converted so coolly. Aaron Wilbraham returned to the starting eleven after missing the trip to Rotherham due to personal reasons whilst Calvin Andrew made his first appearance in over the month, coming off the bench in the final minutes to sure up the defence. Whether Calvin's return to the first-team picture is a positive or not is another issue.
Although at Boston we did try to dominate play in conditions that perhaps were not suited to our possession-based style, we saw a more cold-blooded, defensively organised Dale outfit in the win over the Millers the week before. Which version of Brian Barry-Murphy's side we'll see on this trip to the Midlands remains to be seen, but supporters will be hoping either way the performance can result in another three points.
Dale have actually been far better on the road than they have in front of their own supporters so far this season. In the away table, we sit on the verge of the play-off positions in 8th having picked up four wins but our home form is the joint-second worst in the division. Encouragingly, the other team to have managed to pick up just nine home points so far this season? Burton Albion.
So, with plenty of fans likely to be donning their festive jumpers for the trip to a town known for it's brewing expertise, this could actually end up being a cracker of a day out - or it could leave us all glancing nervously over our shoulders towards the bottom three on Christmas Day... as if dinner with the family wasn't nerve-wracking enough.
Burton Albion seem to be one of those clubs that have just had our number in recent years. Although Dale fans will remember fondly the excellent opening day victory at the Pirelli Stadium last season marked by a stunning Brad Inman brace (seriously!), that was only our 3rd win over the Brewers, with the Staffordshire outfit winning seven of the other 11 meetings between the two sides.
A struggle for consistency, particularly on their own patch, has seen Burton fail to really rise up the table this season after a solid but unspectacular ninth placed finish. So much so, that if Dale manage to earn all three points from this trip to the Pirelli Stadium, they will actually leapfrog the Brewers, who currently occupy 16th place, in the League One table.
Boss Nigel Clough has legendary status at the club, but may be starting to worry for his future if he can't turn around current form. The ex-Derby manager will no doubt have been hoping a surprise away win over Sunderland last month would kickstart his side's season, but it hasn't transpired that way. Clough has an accumulated 16 years of service at the club as a player and manager however, so is likely to be afforded more time than most would be to turn things around.
Since the victory at the Stadium of Light, the Brewers have managed just one point from a possible nine and that came at home against a Southend United side that have picked up just one other point on the road so far in this campaign. Back-to-back 2-0 defeats to Lincoln City and Wycombe Wanderers followed, leaving Burton no doubt worrying about the likes of Dale and Accrington Stanley who are now both within a victory of their position in the table.
The cup competitions have at least provided some relief for the Pirelli Stadium faithful this term. A win over Premier League outfit Bournemouth in the EFL Cup saw the Brewers handed a home tie against local giants Leicester City, which they lost 1-3, whilst wins over fourth tier outfits Oldham Athletic and Salford City have set them up for a very winnable third round tie against another League Two side in Northampton Town.
Dale fans may remember both Matt Lund and Jamie Allen leaving the club for Burton a couple of years back, but both have since moved on again from the Pirelli Stadium. Former record transfer fee Stephen Bywater is on the books with the Brewers but hasn't made a league appearance so far this season.
The likes of Lloyd Dyer and Stephen Quinn provide further ex-Premier League quality to this rather ageing squad whilst forward Lucas Akins has been a mainstay of the side for some six seasons now and is always likely to cause a threat. A few other recognisable names include ex-Sheffield United full-back John Brayford and former rumoured Dale target, Irish midfielder John-Joe O'Toole.
Photo: Action Images
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