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Rochdale 1 v 1 Bristol Rovers
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 31st October 2020 Kick-off 15:00
Match Preview: Rochdale vs Bristol Rovers
Thursday, 29th Oct 2020 21:37 by AtThePeake

Dale look to stretch their unbeaten run to four games as they welcome a Bristol Rovers side who sit above them in the table on goal difference alone on Hallowe'en.

Date: Saturday 31st October 2020
Kick-off: 3:00pm
Venue: Spotland Stadium
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THE DALE:
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Welcome to the one and only match preview ahead of Saturday's fixtures that won't feature at least eight hackneyed Hallowe'en puns. You're welcome.

Although frustration at not being able to watch our team live persists, Dale fans have every reason to be happy after the last couple of weeks, and they come into this weekend's fixture having earned seven impressive and important points in their last three games.

Having put in two poor performances in defeats to Hull City and Accrington Stanley, Brian Barry-Murphy's charges have really raised their game since and those seven points have lifted the side into mid-table and eyeing a spot in the top half if they can manage a win this weekend.

After Matt Lund's header earned a win against his former club Burton Albion and first-half goals from Ollie Rathbone and Alex Newby helped Dale to a 2-1 win at Shrewsbury Town, the club finally earned a first ever league point against Sunderland at the Crown Oil Arena on Tuesday.

A brace from the in-form Lund saw the side come from behind twice to rescue that point and Dale had their young, defensive loanees to thank for seeing the job through as Haydon Roberts, Tolaji Bola and Gavin Bazunu all turned in excellent performances once again versus the Black Cats.

A special mention also has to go to striker Jake Beesley, who has filled the void left by injured Stephen Humphrys with serious endeavour and energy and although he hasn't been able to open his account for the club, even a blow to the head in the win at the Shrews wasn't enough to stop him keeping his starting spot against Sunderland and putting in another real shift.

The wait for Humphrys to make his second appearance since re-joining the club from Southend is likely to continue here, whilst it appears that players like Stephen Dooley, Jay Lynch, Kwadwo Baah and Paul McShane could continue to miss out.

In a more general sense, this season is still likely to be a difficult one, but the team are enjoying some fine form at the moment and they will look to make hay whilst the sun shines by racking up as many points as possible during this spell of games.

Bristol Rovers will be far from pushovers, but fans and players alike from Spotland have every right to be feeling a little more confident about the immediate future following recent performances and results and the aim will be to earn another three points here.
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THE OPPOSITION:
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Bristol Rovers made some eye-catching signings in the summer, bringing in some big names for the lower leagues including former Walsall star Erhun Oztumer, Gillingham centre-back Max Ehmer and Zain Westbrooke from last season's League One champions Coventry City.

However, one name who isn't quite so familiar to lower league supporters is the Pirates' manager, Ben Garner. The 40 year old, who took over in December, was never a professional player and came on the recommendation of former Bristol Rovers and Rochdale star, Rickie Lambert, who he had coached at West Brom.

Having spent time with the Baggies and Indian outfit ATK following a lengthy spell at Crystal Palace, Garner is now finally cutting his teeth in first-team management and he has been given some impressive tools to work with given the clubs activity in the summer transfer window.

And so far, it's been a mixed bag for the Gas. After a slow start saw them pick up just one point from a possible nine, three wins from four over Northampton Town, Lincoln City and Shrewsbury Town did give the Memorial Ground fanbase some reason for optimism amidst scepticism of Garner's credentials following a heavy defeat to Doncaster Rovers.

That four game unbeaten run did come to an end in midweek however, as three substitutes all found the net for Hull City in their victory in the South West. As Dale fans saw for themselves a few weeks ago however, the Tigers are particularly tough opposition to handle in League One and that defeat won't have Rovers fans too worried given the performances that came before it.

The head-to-head record is an interesting one, and Rochdale have actually proven to be a bit of a bogey team for the Gas in recent years. In particular, the Dale went 13 games unbeaten at the turn of the century and we have indeed lost only 7 of the 37 previous meetings between the two clubs.

Recent matches between the sides will conjure memories of two pivotal away wins at the Memorial Stadium for Dale fans both played out on Easter Mondays. The first, a 2-1 victory in 2014, proved vital in Dale's promotion that season and the second, coming courtesy of an Ethan Hamilton goal in 2019, went a long way to securing the club's League One status.

But for the current season, it remains to be seen just how difficult an opponent the Pirates will be and with the team on the same points as things stand, the league table suggests this will be a tight affair on Saturday afternoon.
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FORM BOOK - LAST 5 GAMES:
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Rochdale:
Sunderland (h) - DRAW
Shrewsbury Town (a) - WIN
Burton Albion (a) - WIN
Hull City (h) - LOSS
Accrington Stanley (a) - LOSS

Bristol Rovers
Hull City (h) - LOSS
Shrewsbury Town (a) - WIN
Burton Albion (h) - DRAW
Lincoln City (a) - WIN
Northampton Town (a) - WIN
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HEAD TO HEAD:
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ROCHDALE - 13
DRAWS - 17
BRISTOL ROVERS - 7

21 Oct 2017 - Rochdale 1-0 Bristol Rovers - League One
13 Feb 2018 - Bristol Rovers 3-2 Rochdale - League One
02 Oct 2018 - Rochdale 0-0 Bristol Rovers - League One
22 Apr 2019 - Bristol Rovers 0-1 Rochdale - League One
02 Nov 2019 - Rochdale 1-2 Bristol Rovers - League One

Photo: Action Images



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