|Rochdale 3 v 4 Oxford United|
SkyBet League One
Tuesday, 26th January 2021 Kick-off 19:00
Match Preview: Rochdale vs Oxford
Monday, 25th Jan 2021 19:42 by atthepeake
Rochdale take on League One's form team on Tuesday night as Oxford United make the trip north to Spotland.
Date: Tuesday 26thJanuary 2021
After Jimmy Keohane's brace had turned the game on it's head to seemingly send Dale towards their first victory in over a month at Priestfield, before substitute John Akinde came off the bench to seize his chance to score a last-gasp equaliser and earn the Gills a share of the spoils.
Dale's last two wins have been thumping victories away at Wigan and Plymouth, but given the rest of the results in that time have been far less encouraging, is it fair that supporters start to see those games as rather emphatic anomalies? Indeed, the last victory that Dale had to really fight for and win by one goal came at Shrewsbury back in October, which now feels like an absolute age away.
The most worrying aspect at all is that you have to go back even further to find Dale's sole home win of the season. The 2-1 win over Fleetwood, three weeks prior to the victory at Shrewsbury, has been Dale's one and only home win in 15 matches so far this season and that is a run that needs to be corrected as soon as possible if Dale are to remain in League One this season.
A win at Gillingham would've been huge for confidence, although team spirit is clearly not lacking in this squad. Perhaps a home win would open the floodgates and we'd start to see more points at Spotland as a result? Time will tell, but given the amount fixtures against fellow relegation candidates that are coming up, there is no time like the present for Dale to find some home form.
Jim McNulty will continue to miss out through suspension for this game and it's expected that Jimmy Ryan and Paul McShane will also be absent. Jay Lynch missed the trip to Gillingham with him having to isolate and Eoghan O'Connell is still expected to miss out for a few weeks yet.
Stephen Humphrys will be facing a fitness test before the game having failed one before the match at Priestfield and Brian Barry-Murphy will hope that his strike partner Jake Beesley will be fit enough to start having been an un-used substitute in Kent.
Having been galvanised by a glaring miss from Jake Beesley, the men in yellow ran out 3-1 winners that night and it's fair to say that result appeared to have kick-started their season, so much so that they are almost a completely different proposition for Dale to face this time around.
Since that match, Karl Robinson's men have lost just two of their next 12 league games and that form seems to have got better and better with each passing result. In their last five league games, Oxford have picked up the maximum 15 points, racking up no fewer than 16 goals with only there in the reply in the process.
Having cruised to a 2-0 win over Bristol Rovers over the weekend, Oxford have now risen to 11th in the table and instead of looking like the relegation candidates that they appeared to be in the early stages of the season, they now have their sights set firmly on a play-off place. They're only six points behind sixth-placed Charlton Athletic, with three games in hand.
One key component of this explosion of form has been the goalscoring instincts of Matty Taylor. The 30 year old scored twice in the win against his former employers over the weekend to take his tally to 11 goals in the league this season and he has always been a deadly striker at this level during his time with both Oxford and Rovers.
He's not the only star in this U's outfit though. Daniel Agyei was a real threat in the reverse fixture back in November and long-serving duo Sam Long and Josh Ruffels are now in their prime and near ever-presents within the starting eleven, although talented midfielder Marcus McGuane does look set to miss out after picking up a potentially nasty injury over the weekend.
If there is a team you don't want to face in League One right now, it's probably an Oxford side with talent and confidence on the back of a resurgent run. Especially if you haven't won any of your last eight meetings with them and have just one win in 15 at your own ground in all competitions. Home win, anyone?
Photo: Action Images
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