|Rochdale 2 v 2 Sunderland|
SkyBet League One
Tuesday, 27th October 2020 Kick-off 19:45
Match Preview: Rochdale vs Sunderland
Monday, 26th Oct 2020 14:27 by AtThePeake
Another former Premier League club await Rochdale as they return to the Crown Oil Arena on Tuesday night following back-to-back away wins for the first time since 2018.
Date: Tuesday 27th October 2020
After a thumping defeat at the hands of Hull City in their last home game just over a week ago, Dale had slipped to second bottom in the table and of two away trips to more winnable opponents in Burton Albion and Shrewsbury Town.
And lo and behold, those matches proved to be more winnable than any of us could have imagined, with Matt Lund handing Dale all three points thanks to a second-half header against his former club at the Pirelli Stadium last Tuesday before another excellent display helped inspire Dale to another three points on Saturday.
First half goals from Ollie Rathbone and Alex Newby saw Dale race into a 2-0 lead at the Montgomery Waters Meadow and despite conceding before half-time, the visitors held on for a 2-1 win thanks in no small part to a tremendous late save by goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu.
Eoghan O'Connell did return in Shropshire though and was partnered by Brighton loanee Haydon Roberts for the first time, with the 18 year old enjoying a terrific start to his spell at the club in the last week featuring in both away victories.
Those pivotal six points have seen Dale rise from 22nd in the table up to 15th, and a victory on Tuesday night would more than likely see them into the top half given that they are currently on the same amount of points as 12th placed Fleetwood Town, with 10.
However, a victory against Sunderland would be very difficult to obtain. Dale have lost all four of their previous meetings with the Black Cats in League One, conceding a total of 11 goals with just three scored in reply.
Having already played Portsmouth, Ipswich Town and Hull City this season, a fixture against another former Premier League opponents shows just how difficult the top end of League One will be to compete against this term, but Brian Barry-Murphy's men will hope to take some new-found confidence into the game after an impressive week on the road.
The Black Cats have spent many seasons in the top tier of English football even more recently, although success has been a long time coming for supporters at the Stadium of Light. An FA Cup win in 1973 remains their last 'major' honour, although they have been crowned second tier champions on five occasions since then.
Having fallen on difficult times under previous ownership, the 'Mackems' will have been hoping that their club's descent into League One would be the nadir and that they would quickly rise back through the divisions but instead, they're now in their third consecutive season in League One.
Two defeats in two trips to Wembley for the EFL Trophy Final and the League One play-off final in 2018 will have Sunderland's pride and last year they missed out on the top six altogether, finishing 8th under the PPG system that was put in place as the season was brought to an early end.
Now under Phil Parkinson, a manager that has experience of winning promotions in the lower leagues with the likes of Colchester United and Bolton Wanderers, Sunderland are hoping to be more consistent this year and find a way to break down teams that look to frustrate them by adopting negative tactics, as you might expect in the unfamiliar conditions of a trip to the Stadium of Light.
Whether this is the season that sees Sunderland return to the Championship remains to be seen as they currently sit in sixth place, with 14 points picked up from seven games. However, a 1-3 home defeat to Portsmouth on Saturday showed the defensive weaknesses that the Black Cats still struggle with against the league's better attacking sides.
The Sunderland squad remains packed with incredible quality for League One level though, with the likes of Bailey Wright, Lynden Gooch and Aiden O'Brien surely capable of playing at a higher level - whilst the likes of Danny Graham and Grant Leadbitter bring a wealth of experience.
Promotion has to be the aim for Sunderland at this level, but Parkinson needs to ensure his players remain consistent for 46 games if they're to achieve that goal this time around.
06 Sep 2016 - Rochdale 1-1 Sunderland -Football League Trophy
Photo: Action Images
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