|Rochdale 3 v 3 Peterborough United|
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 20th March 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Match Preview: Rochdale vs Peterborough
Friday, 19th Mar 2021 14:52 by AtThePeake
Rochdale will look to build on their coupon-busting win at Lincoln City last time out as they welcome Peterborough United to Spotland on Saturday.
Date: Saturday 20th March
That 1-2 win thanks to goals from Ollie Rathbone and Stephen Humphrys either side of an excellent Morgan Rogers equaliser for the Imps saw Brian Barry-Murphy's men lift themselves off the bottom of the table and to within two points of that coveted 20th place.
Not only did the team's form dent supporters' hopes of a win in that game, but also with plenty of confusion and discussion surrounding off-field issues, not least the announcement of the manager's contract extension in bizarre circumstances at the Fans' Forum a few days earlier.
It's fair to say that for most supporters, there appears to be a disconnect between themselves and the club at the moment and when morale is low and results aren't going your way, you come to simply expect defeats against promotion-chasing sides before kick-off.
And yet Dale produced possibly their best performance of the season, with stand-out displays from the likes of Matt Done, Ollie Rathbone and Conor Grant to secure a victory and shock their fight to avoid relegation into life out of seemingly nowhere.
While that victory is important and hopefully will lead to improved results on the pitch, those issues off the pitch and remain and the club would do well to remember that the pressure is still on them to improve in terms of communication and organisation, even if Dale are to go on and pull off another great escape this term.
With the likes of Gavin Bazunu, Conor Grant and Kwadwo Baah set to go on international duty next week, this is Dale's last game for a short while, although hopefully that should mean that the likes of Matt Lund and Jake Beesley could be fit and available for six-pointers against the likes of AFC Wimbledon and Swindon Town later in the season.
Those two will still miss out here, as will Jimmy Ryan, although Stephen Dooley returned to be introduced from the bench for the final minutes at Sincil Bank, while Jack Vale's call-up to the Wales U21 squad to face the Republic of Ireland suggests that he should be returning to fitness very soon.
The 3-5-2/5-3-2 wing-backs set-up appears to have helped get the better of players like Conor Grant and Stephen Humphrys in recent weeks, with the latter benefitting from having a strike partner again in the shape of Matt Done who has looked back to somewhere near his best, particularly at Sincil Bank.
Peterborough always provide stern opposition at League One level, but another performance like last week's will keep supporters happy - although the points are more important in what is sure to be a nailbiting final few months of the season.
Having missed out on the play-offs last year after the normal season was ended early with a PPG system in place (much to the chagrin of their media-friendly owner Darragh MacAnthony), Posh have pushed on this season and set their sights on avoiding the end-of-season lottery altogether by securing an automatic spot.
As things stand, they're in second place, although the fight for automatic promotion is almost as tight and exciting as the relegation battle at the bottom of the table. Posh currently occupy second place, although just seven points separate the top four and the current leaders Hull City have played more games than any other team.
Recent form has been a little shaky for the Cambridgeshire outfit though. Although they were victors over Portsmouth last week, that was their first win in four games after a draw with Oxford and back-to-back defeats against Burton Albion and title-chasing rivals Hull.
With so much quality at his disposal, boss Darren Ferguson will still expect to secure a top two spot this season. Indeed, it shows the kind of resources in place at London Road that the team have actually been able to improve despite the sale of super striker Ivan Toney to Brentford last summer.
His replacement came in the shape of Jonson Clarke-Harris from Bristol Rovers and the former Oldham man has enjoyed a fine first season with Posh, scoring 21 league goals so far including a hat-trick he scored in the reverse of this fixture back in December.
Posh ran out 4-1 winners that day, taking their winning run over Dale to four games. They've been very comfortable in winning all four of those matches too, racking up no fewer than 16 goals for just three in reply across those three fixtures.
Alongside Clarke-Harris, the likes of Sikiri Dembele and Jack Taylor are young and exciting players although thankfully the effervescent Sammie Szmodics will miss out through injury on Saturday.
One man who all Dale fans will recognise in this Peterborough squad is midfielder Ethan Hamilton. The former Manchester United trainee enjoyed an excellent loan spell at Spotland, helping the club to avoid relegation with some fine performances in the latter stages of the 2018/2019 campaign.
14 Apr 2018 - Peterborough United 0-1 Rochdale - League One
Photo: Action Images
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