Match Preview: Rochdale vs Swindon
Monday, 12th Apr 2021 21:36 by AtThePeake
For most Dale fans, matches almost seem secondary to the off-field issues surrounding the club at the moment, but the relegation battle continues with a home fixture against Swindon Town on Tuesday night.
Date: Tuesday 13th April
The given reason for this retreat was that 'serious internal issues' discovered at the time of accepting their positions on the board are still yet to be resolved. Go figure, as they say over that way.
A quick skim of Twitter, Facebook or this website's message board will show you that all is not rosey at our beloved club at the moment and pressure is particularly rising on the CEO David Bottomley, who has become persona non grata within the fanbase.
The pressure on the CEO continues to rise seemingly by the day, with some supporters even suggesting a potential boycott of season tickets next season, such is the dissatisfaction with the current leadership of the club.
Mind you, forgetting that Dale have got matches to play might not be the worst thing in the world for supporters right now.
Another insipid display on Saturday saw Dale slip to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Fleetwood Town, extending the gap between themselves and the coveted haven of 20th place in the table to six points and seemingly taking the team one step further to fulfilling many pre-season predictions of a last place finish.
Not that the relegation battle is over yet. Dale still have 21 points to play for and with games against AFC Wimbledon and Swindon Town, who also find themselves in the mire, still to play, the fight would be far from over had the team shown any real desire to battle to retain their League One place in the last two games.
Instead, Dale looked flat and uninspired in picking up just one point and failing to score a goal from their matches against Ipswich Town and Fleetwood Town and now, any real hopes of escaping the drop zone appear to have diminished to a tiny flicker, sure to be extinguished in the coming weeks.
Matt Done was forced off with a head injury in the defeat at Highbury Stadium although was still not replaced by the fit-again Jack Vale, who was instead brought on for the final stages of the game as Fleetwood controlled proceedings and held onto the lead given to them by Eoghan O'Connell's own goal.
Whether the likes of Matt Lund, Stephen Humphrys and Jimmy Ryan are any closer remains to be seen but in reality it's unlikely to matter all that much at this point.
Indeed, with many minds focused on the off-field events at the club at the moment, a victory in this game would do nothing more than give further fleeting hope of the side pulling off a 'great escape' in difficult circumstances - the pressure on the board and CEO would still remain the key talking point among supporters right now.
Oh, and since I include it in every preview of every home game - we're currently at 17 league games and 19 games in all competitions without a home victory. I bet you can't wait to get back?
These previews have been easier to write when focusing on the opposition lately as it hasn't felt all that long ago since our reverse fixtures, but you have to go all the way back to the opening day of the season to try and remember anything about the Robins.
Despite having lost a couple of key players over the summer, Swindon looked like a team riding on the crest of a promotion wave having been confirmed League Two champions on Points Per Game in the previous season as they crushed Dale 3-1 at the County Ground.
Although all Dale fans were expecting a tough test in Wiltshire, Swindon looked mightily impressive on that opening day in contrast to an underwhelming showing from Brian Barry-Murphy's men, which is why it is now quite confusing to see them struggling like ourselves in the lower reaches of the table.
An enforced managerial change may have had something to do with it, however. When Richie Wellens left the club in November, they were outside of the relegation zone with games in hand on many of the teams around them (although still three points and four places behind the Dale at that point).
Now in the dugout is John Sheridan, a man no stranger to Greater Manchester having been a regular appointment at local rivals Oldham Athletic - although it seems that he is struggling to pull off one of his infamous 'Shezurrections' with Swindon this term.
Having seemingly turned a corner last month with vital if unexpected victory away to Fleetwood Town and Bristol Rovers, Swindon have since been brought back to earth with the bump of three consecutive defeats to Blackpool, Burton Albion and Peterborough United.
With four points more than Dale having played one game more, they will feel this match is an absolute must-win to keep their hopes of remaining in League One alive and to be honest, despite those three defeats, you wouldn't back against them given Dale's dreadful home record this season.
I usually take a look at some stand-out players in the opposition and there are some here including experienced defenders Jonathan Grounds and Paul Caddis as well as talented midfielder Jack Payne.
But the one man that will attract the eye of every Dale fan - and hopefully defender - is Brett Pitman. The 33 year old forward has been a constant thorn in our side throughout his career, racking up nine career goals against Dale despite playing much of his career at a higher level in the Championship.
12 Sep 2020 - Swindon Town 3-1 Rochdale - League One
Photo: Action Images
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