|Rochdale 0 v 0 Scunthorpe United|
SkyBet League Two
Saturday, 14th August 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Match Preview: Dale vs Scunthorpe
Friday, 13th Aug 2021 19:05 by AtThePeake
It can be hard to find the beauty in the beautiful game in 2021, but it'll be that kind of moment for many Dale fans on Saturday as they return to Spotland for a competitive fixture for the first time in over 500 days.
Date: Saturday 14th August
Who could've predicted that following that excellent finish from Matt Lund to wrap up an unexpected victory over promotion-chasing Rotherham United, that we'd be waiting so long to return home to watch the boys in blue take to the field again?
Frankly, since then, everything has changed. On Saturday we'll see a team taking to the field under a new manager, in a new division, with a new board of directors and with fans fighting for the future of the club as they look to fight off a hostile takeover attempt by some unwelcome 'investors' in the club.
But to matters on the field, which of course we all hope to be able to concentrate on for a minimum of 90 minutes on Saturday afternoon - followed by another home fixture against Forest Green Rovers on Tuesday night.
A handful of former previous managers such as Peter Madden, Dave Sutton and Steve Eyre have earned their first home league victories over Scunthorpe United and Robbie Stockdale will be hoping he can follow in their footsteps on Saturday after an opening day defeat at Harrogate.
After a dreadful start at Wetherby Road, Dale found themselves 2-0 down after just 10 minutes, before goals from Alex Newby and Conor Grant drew them level before the 50 minute mark.
However, an injury-time strike from long-serving defender Warren Burrell secured the victory for the Sulphurites and a chance for redemption was lost on Tuesday night, with the slated EFL Cup tie between the two sides cancelled due to a COVID outbreak within the Harrogate squad.
In terms of team selection, Dale fans will be expecting Eoghan O'Connell to return to the starting XI as Stockdale confirmed he is likely to be fit. Less is known about the injury issues that kept Jimmy Keohane out of last week's squad and forced Abraham Odoh to be substituted in the second half in Yorkshire.
There may be some other decisions to make for the boss as Joel Coleman may feel he deserves a chance to dislodge Jay Lynch from the number one spot between the sticks, while George Broadbent and Danny Cashman will hope for their first starts after coming off the bench last weekend.
With Scunthorpe expected to struggle this season and with Dale having lost just one of their last nine meetings with the Iron, this has to be seen as a good opportunity for Stockdale to get his first points on the board as Dale fans return to Spotland full of hope, full of expectancy and full of kebabs.
The two clubs have met over 100 times in all competitions and although Dale have had the better of recent fixtures, losing just one of the last nine, the Iron have the better overall record with 41 victories to our 35.
Bringing things into the modern era and Scunthorpe are a club that, despite recent sojourns to the Championship, now find themselves battling to remain in the Football League and many pundits are tipping them to struggle again this season.
Scunny ended the last campaign in dreadful form, picking up just three points from the last available 30 in the league and to make matters worse, top scorer Abo Eisa has left for Bradford City this summer while first-teamers such as Jacob Bedeau and Kevin van Veen have also headed out the exit door at Glanford Park.
Neil Cox's first season as a head coach was tough and in the end, they managed to finish just one place above the League Two relegation zone last season, so little is expected of them in the new campaign either.
Given that negativity, it's perhaps not as surprising as it seemed last Saturday that Swindon Town, a club until who recently only had a handful of first-team players and have spent the summer fighting their ownership battles, were victorious in Lincolnshire last weekend by a 1-3 scoreline.
To make matters worse for Cox and his charges, the team also found themselves dumped out of the EFL Cup on Tuesday night with a second half strike from Dimitri Sea condemning them to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of fellow League Two side Barrow.
While this Scunthorpe squad does appear to be lacking in quality, there are some recognisable names in there. Alex Kenyon arrived this summer after 8 years with Morecambe, while winger Myles Hippolyte is best known for his time north of the border with the likes of Falkirk and Livingston.
The most recognisable name however is that of former Dale loanee Harry Bunn, who joined the Iron this summer after a short spell in non-league with York City. While on Manchester City's books, Bunn scored once in an eight game spell at Spotland in 2010/2011 and went onto become a regular starter in the Championship with Huddersfield, but his career has dovetailed somewhat since then.
Scunthorpe appear to be a rather disjointed side representing a rather disjointed club at the moment and it could be a long season for the supporters at Glanford Park. Dale fans will be hoping their side doesn't go the same way and can pick up three important points to kickstart the season at Spotland this weekend.
14 Mar 2017 - Scunthorpe United v Rochdale L 2-1 League One
Photo: Action Images
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