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Rochdale 0 v 2 Shrewsbury Town
SkyBet League One
Tuesday, 9th March 2021 Kick-off 19:45
Match Preview: Rochdale vs Shrewsbury
Monday, 8th Mar 2021 18:23 by atthepeake

We've got to put ourselves through the whole sorry mess again on Tuesday night as Rochdale welcome Shrewsbury Town to Spotland.

Date: Tuesday 9th March
Kick-off: 7.00pm
Venue: Spotland
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THE DALE:
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The writing of these previews has become an extension of watching Dale at the moment. Boring. Predictable. Downright depressing. Welcome to the fun factory.

I'm trying to come up with new ways, each time we play, of describing just how poor we are at the moment. I suppose the extension of those three key stats has to be mentioned to put things into context in every single one of these previews.

- 1 win in 16.
- 1 win in 20 at home in all competitions.
- 0 goals in six games.

I think the latest indication of how bad we are right now came after our last home game against Burton Albion when, for the first time I realised that I was just glad we hadn't been at Spotland this season. I've desperately missed the usual routine of going to the game, as highlighted by Chaff's excellent post on Sunday describing our year of behind closed door's football, but after that Burton game, I was just glad I hadn't spent as much time, money or effort on watching Dale play.

We can't lay all of the blame here at the door of the manager and players. There are some extenuating circumstances. The injury problems that we have faced are probably worse than any other team in the division, for example. And indeed, the longer this run goes on, the harder it must be for the manager to motivate his players to rescue a rapidly sinking ship, particularly amidst an atmosphere of confusion regarding the club's future at boardroom level to boot.

But Brian Barry-Murphy really hasn't helped himself in all this. The consistent desire to play a style of football that evidently doesn't suit the limited talent he has at his disposal, mixed with a propensity for conceding easily avoidable goals and now it seems an absolute lack of ability to create chances have led to a concoction of miserable football and even more miserable results.

When you add to that the utter predictability of the comments made in matches before and after recent defeats, you can understand the frustration of the supporters. Perhaps 'Little Rochdale' should just be happy to be playing matches against the likes of Hull City and Sunderland, but it makes for difficult listening when you're told how well your team played after they've just been swatted aside with ease by these bigger clubs.

There were positives in both the Hull and Sunderland matches, in my opinion. Particularly the latter, in which we finally managed to fashion some shots at goal and had some spells where we looked dangerous in possession. The bottom line is, those shots are irrelevant if they don't hit the net and those spell of looking dangerous in possession are irrelevant if they come when your opponents are two goals to the good and cruising towards three points.

Touching on those injuries does show the extent of the players unavailable to Brian Barry-Murphy. Jimmy Ryan, Stephen Dooley, Jake Beesley, Jack Vale and Matt Lund are all likely to remain in the treatment room for this game, while Ollie Rathbone serves the final game of a three-match suspension on Tuesday night.

So, send your £10 to iFollow, settle down on the sofa with a beer and some crisps, and prepare for another defeat and another step taken towards League Two. Don't worry though, afterwards, you can be told how brilliant we were. Joy.
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THE OPPOSITION:
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Although AFC Wimbledon and Bristol Rovers can attest to the belief that changing managers doesn't necessarily mean an upturn in performances, Burton Albion and Tuesday night opponents Shrewsbury Town have shown just how much a difference it can make in the right circumstances.

When Sam Ricketts was dismissed by the club in late November of 2020, the Shrews were stuck in 23rd place in the table, with just one win to their name in their first 13 matches, having even lost at home to Dale in the reverse of this fixture. A relegation battle appeared to be set to play out at the New Meadow.

Fast forward to March, and although Rickett's replacement Steve Cotterill has been unable to spend too much time in the dugout due to COVID-19 and COVID-pneumonia (which will prevent him from being in attendance at Spotland on Tuesday night), Salop find themselves in a relatively comfortable 17th place, 8 points clear of the relegation zone and 10 points clear of bottom of the table Dale.

After Cotterill's appointment, Shrewsbury embarked on an excellent seven game unbeaten run and they've managed no fewer than eight league victories in those matches. Momentum may have slowed up recently with defeats to Bristol Rovers and Fleetwood Town, but with that gap looking more comfortable between themselves and the bottom three, fans in Shropshire surely won't be too concerned at this point.

Winning some of the plaudits for this incredible run is none other than Aaron Wilbraham. Having left Rochdale in the summer, 'Alby' hung up his boots in favour of becoming Cotterill's assistant having enjoyed an excellent working relationship during their mutual time at Bristol City. With Cotterrill unable to be in attendance for many games, Wilbraham has quickly had to step up to the plate in the dugout and has done so to great effect thus far.

While some Dale supporters have called for Dale to revert to a more agricultural style in the midst of a relegation battle, it is ironic that Brian Barry-Murphy will now come up against a man who he utilised in such a manner to great effect in steering the club away from the drop zone towards the end of the 2018/2019 season.

It's fair to say that Wilbraham has had some experienced heads to call upon on the pitch too though. The likes of Leon Clarke, Shaun Whalley, Marc Pugh and Dave Edwards have hundreds of appearances to call upon between them and there are quality younger players alongside them including Daniel Udoh and the highly-rated Blackburn loanee Harry Chapman.

Wilbraham isn't the only former Dale connection either. The Shrews signed Rekeil Pyke following his release from Huddersfield Town in the summer and they also managed to snare Ethan Ebanks-Landell upon the expiration of his Wolves contract two years ago after an impressive loan spell at Dale.

Remarkably, it was a home fixture against Shrewsbury Town on the 9th March two years ago that announced Brian Barry-Murphy as Dale's new manager with a 2-1 victory that would go on to kickstart a revival in a season that seemed doomed at the time. Can history repeat itself on Tuesday?
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FORM BOOK:
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Rochdale:
Sunderland (a) - LOSS
Hull City (a) - LOSS
Burton Albion (h) - LOSS
Northampton Town (a) - DRAW
Plymouth Argyle (h) - DRAW

Shrewsbury Town:
Fleetwood Town (a) - LOSS
AFC Wimbledon (h) - DRAW
Bristol Rovers (a) - LOSS
Milton Keynes (h) - WIN
Accrington Stanley (a) - DRAW
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HEAD TO HEAD:
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ROCHDALE: 26
DRAW: 11
SHREWSBURY: 16

17 Nov 2018 - Shrewsbury Town 3-2 Rochdale - League One
09 Mar 2019 - Rochdale 2-1 Shrewsbury Town - League One
17 Aug 2019 - Shrewsbury Town 0-0 Rochdale - League One
01 Feb 2020 - Rochdale 1-0 Shrewsbury Town - League One
24 Oct 2020 - Shrewsbury Town 1-2 Rochdale - League One

Photo: Action Images



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