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Rochdale 1 v 4 MK Dons
SkyBet League One
Tuesday, 9th February 2021 Kick-off 19:00
Match Preview: Rochdale vs Milton Keynes
Monday, 8th Feb 2021 22:15 by atthepeake

Dale look to finally put an end to their abject run of form at Spotland as they welcome Milton Keynes on Tuesday night.

Date: Tuesday 9th February 2021
Kick-off: 7:00pm
Venue: Spotland
After what had seemed such a positive week with new incomings on deadline day, a financially fair deal negotiated for Kwadwo Baah and most importantly of all a win at Bristol Rovers, you could forgive Rochdale fans for heading into Saturday's home fixture against Charlton with some cautious optimism.

However, by now, we really should know better than to expect much from Dale's home performances and as a result of the 0-2 defeat that played out against the Addicks, the side have now won just one of 17 home fixtures in all competitions this season.

The manner of the defeat, as with many before it, was particularly disappointing on Saturday. Although Charlton have some fine players for League One level, life was made too easy for them by a Dale side that looked completely devoid of energy and didn't really mount much of a comeback attempt after shipping two goals inside the first half-hour.

Although it's clear that certain teams are likely to be more defensive and get men behind the ball to frustrate Dale's potent attack at Spotland, that didn't seem to be the case whatsoever on Saturday. Charlton pressed our defence into many a rushed clearance and mistake and Dale struggled to take advantage of any of their minimus forays forward as Stephen Humphrys was effectively marshalled by the visitors' defence.

Many fans will argue that as long as we pick up enough points to remain in the league, whether they come on the road or at Spotland is irrelevant and indeed, in this season more than most, that may actually be a fair comment with no supporters allowed in the stadiums.

However, you do wonder whether some supporters will choose to spend their money elsewhere when the option to go to games returns if Dale continue to be quite so relentlessly below-par at home. The only positive I could take from Saturday's performance was that I was already home and I didn't have a freezing train journey home to make afterwards.

Brian Barry-Murphy at least has a much stronger pool of players to choose from now and both Conor Grant and Jack Vale were introduced for debuts against Charlton. One wonders whether Conor Shaugnessy, primarily a defensive-minded player, could make his first appearance in this game either in the centre of defence or at the base of the midfield.

Eoghan O'Connell returned from injury to start on Saturday while Ryan McLaughlin was also back in the side after completing his self-isolation period. It does however seem to be that Jake Beesley, Paul McShane and Jimmy Ryan will continue to miss out.

This match kickstarts a run of what appear to be winnable fixtures for Dale. In the next six games, the highest-placed team they will face is a Plymouth outfit that of course lost 0-4 when they welcomed BBM's side to Home Park earlier in the season. If ever there was a time for Dale to find their feet at home, now would be that time.
For myself and many lower league supporters, Milton Keynes still represent something that doesn't quite sit right.

The club's whole existence came about due to the taking over, relocation and rebranding of Wimbledon, who have since re-emerged as a reborn club, a direct rival to Milton Keynes, and moved back to their spiritual home of Plough Lane. Meanwhile, Pete Winkelman, the mastermind behind the project in Buckinghamshire, has had to apologise to local business owners for not delivering Premier League football to the city during his time as chairman.

Although the club are now in their 16th season as a Football League outfit, the whole episode continues to leave a bitter taste in the mouth of many football supporters.

When the two sides met in the league recently, it was Milton Keynes that came out on top and as such a seven point gap between the clubs has since emerged, which may leave fans at Stadium: MK breathing a little easier. They are now eight points clear of the bottom four and targeting a spot in mid-table rather than nervously glancing over their shoulders.

Russell Martin will be fairly happy with his team's recent form, too. His charges have picked up four wins in their last seven league games, including that win against rivals Wimbledon, and they played out an entertaining 2-2 draw with Sunderland over the weekend.

As a club, MK have generally placed a lot of faith in young players, but the current squad has a handful of vastly experienced pros to compliment said youngsters. Will Grigg became the latest addition last week and he could partner former Stoke City and Norwich City striker Cameron Jerome in attack.

Another ex-Premier League player in Andrew Surman could feature in midfield, but the star man so far this season has arguably been Scottish midfielder Scott Fraser, who has offered creativity and goals since his summer arrival from Burton Albion.

Dean Lewington still features as a near ever-present, having played his whole career with the club since it's formation in 2004, racking up over 800 appearances in all competitions and making plenty of enemies along the way.

There have been some memorable matches between these two teams in those 16 years. Dale did a home and away double over MK in their League Two title-winning campaign of 2007/2008, just one year after Keith Hill had taken charge of the club for the first time in an away defeat at the National Hockey Stadium, the first ever meeting between the two sides.

Charlton Athletic (h) - LOSS
Bristol Rovers (a) - WIN
Oxford United (h) - LOSS
Gillingham (a) - DRAW
Doncaster Rovers (a) - LOSS

Milton Keynes:
Sunderland (h) - DRAW
Sunderland (h) - LOSS
Wimbledon (a) - WIN
Charlton Athletic (h) - LOSS
Fleetwood Town (h) - WIN

11 Mar 2017 - Milton Keynes Dons 2-2 Rochdale - League One
16 Sep 2017 - Milton Keynes Dons 3-2 Rochdale - League One
21 Feb 2018 - Rochdale 0-0 Milton Keynes Dons - League One
22 Oct 2019 - Rochdale 2-0 Milton Keynes Dons - League One
28 Jan 2020 - Milton Keynes Dons 2-1 Rochdale - League One

Photo: Action Images

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