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Lincoln City 1 v 2 Rochdale
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 13th March 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Match Preview: Lincoln vs Rochdale
Friday, 12th Mar 2021 17:22 by AtThePeake

Rochdale's desperate run of form shows no sign of coming to an end as they head to Sincil Bank to take on high-flying Lincoln City this weekend.

Date: Saturday 13th March
Kick-off: 3.00pm
Venue: Sincil Bank
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THE DALE:
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Prior to Tuesday's home match versus Shrewsbury, I stressed the need to continue pointing out the key numbers in Dale's run of form and after another 0-2 defeat (the fourth consecutive loss by the same scoreline), those key numbers make yet more grim reading.

- 1 win in 17.
- 1 win in 21 at home in all competitions.
- 0 goals in seven games.

And yet somehow, despite all of this, much of the discussion this week has been surrounding off-field events. And how worrying do those off-field events have to be for supporters to put such a dire run of form to the backs of their minds?

In a calamitous Fans Forum event on Wednesday night, the club confirmed that Brian Barry-Murphy's contract had already been renewed for another year. When this happened and whether the whole board were aware of that development is still unclear, but that was just one aspect of what was a difficult evening's watch for supporters.

Clips of CEO David Bottomley appearing to burst into tears on more than one occasion have done the rounds on social media as he defended the decision to stick by a manager who has seen pressure unsurprisingly mounted on him by this recent run of results.

And whilst the club's financial position, coupled with the high amount of injuries that we have suffered from this season, were used to provide context for the situation the club finds itself in, many supporters felt they were left with more questions than answers come the end of the event.

All of this leaves Dale fans in need of a pick-me-up. Although three points at Lincoln would keep barely believable hopes of survival alive, not only does that seem highly unlikely given the team's recent performances, but it also wouldn't go very far as to easing the worries of supporters following such a confusing and demoralising few weeks.

Those injury problems that the management team and board were keen to highlight on Wednesday night do persist. Jake Beesley, Jack Vale, Stephen Dooley, Jimmy Ryan and Matt Lund will all continue to miss out in Lincolnshire, although Ollie Rathbone does return from a three-match suspension.

In a switch to a 5-3-2 formation on Tuesday night, Brian Barry-Murphy did appear in the first-half at least to have stumbled upon a slightly more effective set-up. That effectiveness waned as the match progressed, but a similar formation is likely to be favoured again on Saturday against one of the league's promotion-chasing sides.

This could be a long, difficult afternoon in front of iFollow for Rochdale fans - but we've had plenty of them already this season. What's one more?
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THE OPPOSITION:
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Lincoln City have perhaps been the major success story of this League One season as they look to secure an incredible promotion to the Championship even without their vociferous home support to try and inspire their fight for a top two spot.

The club have a proud history in the Football League, but having spent so long in the National League, they've quickly established themselves back in the big time, winning promotion from League Two and steadying the ship in League One last season to consolidate their position in the third tier.

This season however, the Imps have turned up the heat yet further and with Michael Appleton, who has a solid reputation in the lower leagues, at the helm, promotion seems a very achievable target at this stage of the campaign.

As things stand Lincoln sit in third place, although they are just one point behind second-placed Peterborough United and four behind current league leaders Hull City with two games in hand. They will have to be wary of teams on their tails too - Doncaster and Sunderland within touching distance as we had into the final stages of the campaign.

Having suffered an away defeat at Lincoln and a home defeat to Fleetwood to end February and usher in March, Appleton's charges have since picked up four important points with a convincing 3-0 win over Crewe and a 1-1 away draw with Ipswich.

Lincoln deserve credit for the way they have utilised the loan market this season. While Callum Morton (pictured) has struggled with injuries, Brennan Johnson and TJ Eyoma have been key components of a successful side and the January addition of Morgan Rogers from Manchester City has been a positive one, with the 18 year old finding the net five times in his first 13 appearances for the club.

There are some quality permanent players within this Lincoln outfit also however. 11-goal midfielder Jorge Grant has been one of the stand-out performers in the whole division this season, while Lewis Montsma has won plenty of plaudits in defence.

Both of those players were in fine form when the Imps brushed Dale aside with a comfortable 0-2 victory in the reverse fixture back in Decembe and given how impressive Lincoln were that day, you have to fear for Dale's injury-hit side that seems to be at rock bottom in terms of morale right now - and demonstrably are rock bottom in the league table.

Frankly, Dale have a job on their hands here. Lincoln are possibly the best team we've faced this season and what's more, that promotion is well within reach for them at this stage of the campaign. The realist in me can see just one outcome here, but the optimist thinks we'll only lose by one or two.
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FORM BOOK:
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Lincoln City:
Ipswich Town (a) - DRAW
Crewe Alexandra (h) - WIN
Fleetwood Town (h) - LOSS
Plymouth Argyle (a) - LOSS
Swindon Town (h) - DRAW

Rochdale:
Sunderland (a) - LOSS
Hull City (a) - LOSS
Burton Albion (h) - LOSS
Northampton Town (a) - DRAW
Plymouth Argyle (h) - DRAW
________________________________________________________________________
HEAD TO HEAD:
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ROCHDALE - 38
DRAW - 33
LINCOLN CITY - 44

12 Dec 2009 - Lincoln City 1-3 Rochdale - League Two
06 Mar 2010 - Rochdale 1-1 Lincoln City - League Two
09 Jan 2018 - Rochdale 0-1 Lincoln City - Football League Trophy
17 Sep 2019 - Rochdale 1-1 Lincoln City - League One
05 Dec 2020 - Rochdale 0-2 Lincoln City - League One

Photo: Action Images



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