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Rochdale 0 v 1 AFC Wimbledon
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 21st November 2020 Kick-off 15:00
Match Preview: Rochdale vs Wimbledon
Thursday, 19th Nov 2020 18:03 by AtThePeake

After a much-needed rest during the international break, Dale return to action against Wimbledon at Spotland this Saturday.

Date: Saturday 22nd November 2020
Kick-off: 3:00pm
Venue: Spotland Stadium
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THE DALE:
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It's fair to say that some tired legs in the Dale squad were seemingly in need of the rest that was afforded to them by virtue of last weekend's slated opponents, Charlton Athletic, needing to call the game off due to international call-ups.

A four game unbeaten run has quickly turned into a five game winless run in all competitions for Brian Barry-Murphy's men, after the back-to-back draws with Sunderland Bristol Rovers were followed up by a trio of defeats in three different competitions.

Firstly, a perhaps unfortunate loss at the hands of Oxford United which turned on a glaring miss by Jake Beesley was suffered in League One, before lower-division opposition spelled the end of two of Dale's cup journeys in the following week.

Two early goals from non-league Stockport County helped see them through to a 1-2 victory in the FA Cup first round before Salford City came from behind in the EFL Trophy to win 1-2 and seal progression into the next round at our expense.

With a squad that is understandably a little thinner on the ground than most this season given the circumstances and is also littered with players untested at Football League level including three Premier League loanees in the backline who have never played in the EFL before, a rest may have seemed as good as a change in this case for Brian Barry-Murphy.

Unfortunately however, it appears that one of his own internationals has picked up an injury during this break. Although we're yet to receive confirmation, it does appear that goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu could be out

Some supporters will have been hoping that former loanee Andy Lonergan, whom BBM revealed during his recent appearance on the RochdaleAFC.com podcast is currently helping with goalkeeper training, would return on a short-term deal but if Bazunu is unavailable, it appears that Jay Lynch could be in line for a start on Saturday afternoon.

There is however, some more encouraging news on the injury front with the news that both Kwadwo Baah and Stephen Humphrys featured in the integration squad's defeat to Fleetwood earlier this week, suggesting that they could be ready for some first-team minutes this Saturday.

They join an inexperienced attack that it's fair to say has been misfiring a little in the league so far. Although Beesley finally got off the mark for the club in the EFL Trophy defeat to Salford, he is yet to score his first league goal and Fabio Tavares has managed just the one goal so far this season too.

Alex Newby has however been one of the stand-out performers in recent weeks, chipping in with a handful of goals and assists as he adapts to life in League One. Although they managed just 33 minutes on the pitch together in Humphrys' second debut versus Portsmouth, the two forwards did create one major chance for each other in that game which is encouraging for Dale staff and supporters alike.

Wimbledon have to be considered one of the teams that Dale are aiming to finish above this season so supporters will be hoping for an important three points here which would see us leapfrog the Londoners in the table.
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THE OPPOSITION:
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For the last few seasons, Dale and AFC Wimbledon appear to have been fighting together against the financial muscle of some of the bigger teams at this level to keep their heads above the parapet in League One.

In the last two campaigns, the Dons have finished in 20th place - just one above the relegation zone, with Dale finishing in 16th and 18th. The season before that however, Joe Thompson's goal secured a 20th placed finish for what was then Keith Hill's side with Wimbledon sitting just one point and two places higher in 18th.

It almost feels as though we've been searching for AFC Wimbledon's results as a matter of course after matches in recent seasons to see how the bottom of the League One table was taking shape and as such, if both sides were to finish the campaign in their current positions - most supporters would be delighted.

Despite these tussles in relative relegation dogfights in recent seasons, it's almost impossible for many supporters to have any real ill-feeling towards the Dons. Their story is a remarkable one and doesn't need re-telling here, but suffice to say that most supporters are happy to see them not only back in League One, but back to their original home of Plough Lane where Dale will play them later in the season after they returned to the site in recent weeks.

On the pitch this season, boss Glyn Hodges (who represented the original club in all four divisions during his playing days) will surely be delighted with his side's performances.

With just three defeats in their first 11 league games, the Dons have clearly made themselves a difficult team to break down and although they are in danger of becoming the league's draw experts, they will be very happy with a return of 14 points from 11 matches so far this term.

Three of their last four matches have resulted in draws, including one against arch-rivals Milton Keynes, but they've since had a full two weeks without a match having had their last two games postponed due to a number of their players testing positive for COVID-19.

As such, it's difficult to read into how much preparation the Dons will have had for this trip up north but with a young and energetic line-up, spearheaded by the dangerous Joe Piggott, the Dons will be a tough opponent for Dale on Saturday and may be worth more than the odds being offered by the bookmakers given their form prior to those suspensions.
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FORM BOOK - LAST 5 GAMES:
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Rochdale:
Salford City (h) - LOSS
Stockport County (h) - LOSS
Oxford United (a) - LOSS
Bristol Rovers (h) - DRAW
Sunderland (h) - DRAW

Wimbledon:
Doncaster Rovers (h) - DRAW
Milton Keynes (a) - DRAW
Blackpool (h) - WIN
Burton Albion (a) - DRAW
Hull City (a) - LOSS
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HEAD TO HEAD:
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ROCHDALE - 2
DRAW - 3
WIMBLEDON - 5

30 Sep 2017 - AFC Wimbledon 0-0 Rochdale - League One
17 Mar 2018 - Rochdale 1-1 AFC Wimbledon - League One
08 Dec 2018 - AFC Wimbledon 1-1 Rochdale - League One
19 Feb 2019 - Rochdale 3-4 AFC Wimbledon - League One
05 Oct 2019 - AFC Wimbledon 3-2 Rochdale - League One

Photo: Action Images



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