|Rochdale v Chesterfield|
Saturday, 7th November 2020 Kick-off 15:00
Match Preview: Rochdale vs Stockport
Friday, 6th Nov 2020 12:32 by AtThePeake
Dale face non-league opposition in the FA Cup First Round for the fifth consecutive season as they welcome Stockport County on Saturday.
Date: Saturday 7th November 2020
The FA Cup has been kind to us in recent years. Wins over Leeds and Nottingham Forest, plus draws with Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur, have given us memories to last a lifetime in this competition, making it all the more frustrating that we have to sit at home for an intriguing Round One tie on Saturday afternoon.
Dale have enjoyed a run of Round One fixtures against non-league opposition in recent years too, the last four first round opponents being Maidstone, Bromley, Gateshead and Wrexham, prior to this draw against Stockport County.
All four of those ties have resulted in victories for the men in black and blue, and given that there was no love lost between Stockport and Rochdale in the former's final few years as a Football League club, supporters will be keen to ensure the side's recent record of First Round wins against non-league opponents continues here.
Given the tough run of fixtures that this relatively small squad has faced in recent weeks, this game may have been seen as an ideal opportunity to rotate the squad somewhat, but with the news that next weekend's clash with Charlton Athletic has been postponed due to international call-ups, a period of rest is likely to be afforded to any tired legs after this game now.
As such, it should be a strong team that Brian Barry-Murphy selects for this game and with all of the loanees available for the remainder of the season, the likes of Gavin Bazunu, Haydon Roberts and Tolaji Bola should all thankfully be included in the match-day squad for this game - with the former two at least expected to join up with their respective international youth squads afterwards.
Given the glaring miss that Jake Beesley produced at the Kassam on Tuesday night, supporters are perhaps willing striker Stephen Humphrys back to full fitness more than ever right now, although he is unlikely to feature until after the international break.
One man who could feature however is young winger Kwadwo Baah, who was involved in the U18 team's defeat to Salford City in the FA Youth Cup in midweek and who scored a stunning goal against Stockport in Dale's 0-2 pre-season victory at Edgeley Park.
Although it won't quite be the same without the supporters there, this Greater Manchester derby should at least be an interesting watch as Dale look to continue their love affair with the FA Cup this season.
The best was a 2-7 win at Edgeley Park towards the end of the 2006/2007 campaign, where goals from the likes of Chris Dagnall, Glenn Murray and Ben Muirhead saw us cruise to a remarkable victory away from home that appeared to signal the start of a special few seasons under the management of Keith Hill at Spotland.
However, the end of the following season would culminate with a defeat in the League Two play-off final to the Hatters in Dale's first ever trip to Wembley, as Rory McArdle's first-half header was not enough to stop Jim Gannon's men from battling to a 2-3 victory at the national stadium. That game, remarkably, was the last time these two sides met in a competitive fixture.
Since then, the Stockport story has been a rather grim one for the Edgeley Park faithful, as issues off the field finally translated to the pitch and three relegations in four years saw the club plummet into the sixth tier which, after a few years of rebuilding, they finally won promotion from in 2019.
Now, sights are set firmly on a return to the Football League and after picking up 13 points from their first seven games, the Hatters find themselves in second place at this early stage having racked up the goals against the likes of Dover and Wealdstone.
They've even been handed a second bite of the cherry in the FA Cup after the association ordered their final qualifying round match against Chesterfield, which Stockport had originally lost, to be replayed due to the Spireites fielding an ineligible player. The replayed fixture went rather more to plan - resulting in a 4-0 home win.
None of County's four former Dale players featured in that game, although Sam Minihan has played in all seven of his side's league games so far this term and Mark Kitching has scored twice in six games. Nyal Bell has made two appearances, but Jordan Williams is yet to make his competitive debut for the club after suffering an injury against Dale in pre-season.
With Gannon, who made 383 league appearances for the Hatters as a player, now enjoying a third spell in charge, there appears to be a feel-good factor around Stockport County and given the nature of the clashes between these two sides when they were battling it out in League Two, you have to expect the manager and his side will be out to display their EFL credentials by toppling League One opponents and local 'rivals' in this game.
28 Oct 2006 - Rochdale 1-3 Stockport County - League Two
Photo: Action Images
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