|Rochdale 0 v 2 Burton Albion|
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 27th February 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Match Preview: Rochdale vs Burton Albion
Friday, 26th Feb 2021 14:06 by AtThePeake
In what is surely their biggest game of the season thus far, Dale welcome fellow strugglers Burton Albion to Spotland on Saturday afternoon.
Date: Saturday 27th February
After a goalless draw with fellow strugglers Northampton Town on Tuesday, Dale have now won only one of their last 12 league games and although they sit in 18th place in the table, only three points now separate them from their Saturday opponents - who occupy 24th position prior to kick-off.
Hull, Sunderland, Shrewsbury, Lincoln and Peterborough are the five teams that await Dale following this match and with four of those teams occupying four of the top five spots in the division and the other having won four of their last six matches, the expectation among supporters is that points will be hard to come by during that run.
Indeed, points have been hard to come by all season, particularly at Spotland. The goalless draw with Plymouth Argyle last weekend means that Barry-Murphy's men have now gone 15 home matches without a win, picking up just one victory on their own patch in 19 games in all competitions this season.
Unfortunately however, that seems to have led to Dale struggling to create chances in attack. With Jake Beesley and Jack Vale still sidelined through injury, Stephen Humphrys has been left isolated in recent games and as such Dale have now failed to find the net just once in their last five games.
The injury problems don't seem to be subsiding for Brian Barry-Murphy and although Paul McShane could be nursed through this game having been rested for Tuesday's trip to Sixfields, the news that top scorer Matt Lund is set for a lengthy spell on sidelines is a crushing blow to Dale's survival hopes as he has been a stand-out performer in a difficult campaign.
Aaron Morley and Conor Shaugnessy could be partnered once again in midfield with Jimmy Ryan still missing through injury although it remains to be seen what will happen in the full-back positions with Gabriel Osho presumably dropped in Northamptonshire after two poor displays at right-back against Blackpool and Plymouth.
Kwadwo Baah started as the second striker last Saturday and then came off the bench on Tuesday night after Conor Grant was given his first start for the club so BBM also has decisions to make in attack. The new man struggled to make much of an impact, but his replacement missed arguably the best chance of the game after latching onto a bouncing ball in the box but sidefooting his shot straight at Jonathan Mitchell in the home side's goal.
With fans running out of patience with Brian Barry-Murphy and the home form becoming a real weight on the shoulders of this Dale team, three points would go a long way on Saturday afternoon, not only in the fight against relegation but in the minds of supporters.
Defeat however, could be disastrous.
Indeed, until a matter of weeks ago it seemed as though the Brewers remaining in the bottom four was the only certainty of the relegation battle as inexperienced manager Jake Buxton had managed just two wins from his 21 games in charge, leaving the club rooted to the bottom of the table.
Unsurprisingly, Buxton was relieved of his duties and in a move that will have excited supporters of the Staffordshire outfit, was replaced by Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. The Dutchman remains a popular figure at the Pirelli Stadium for the work he did in guiding the club to the League Two title in 2015 and to a fine start in the third tier the following season before leaving for QPR.
Having struggled to replicate that success at Loftus Road and in a subsequent time in charge at Northampton, Hasselbaink has returned to the scene of his best managerial spell so far and has managed to harness some of his reputation to improve results since arriving.
Although still bottom of the table, the Brewers have won four of their six games under the Dutchman thus far and could escape the bottom four this weekend should results go their way. What's more, they have games in hand on the three teams above them in the relegation zone at the moment.
There is an experienced squad to work with for JFH too, which could prove pivotal in the position that the Brewers find themselves in the table. Michael Mancienne, John-Joe O'Toole, Michael Bostwick, John Bradford and Luke Varney bring a wealth of knowledge of this level of football and they will know how to make themselves difficult to beat in huge games like this one.
On the back of three wins in three away games, this surely the worst possible time for Dale to be facing a confident Burton Albion this season, but with in-form and promotion teams coming up, confident opponents are something the side will have to get used to over the coming weeks.
30 Jan 2016 - Rochdale 2-1 Burton Albion - League One
Photo: Action Images
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