|Rochdale 1 v 1 Colchester United|
SkyBet League Two
Friday, 27th August 2021 Kick-off 19:45
Match Preview: Dale vs Colchester
Friday, 27th Aug 2021 08:35 by AtThePeake
There will be a party atmosphere at Spotland on Friday night as Rochdale AFC celebrate 100 years in the Football League with a home fixture vs Colchester.
Date: Friday 27th August
After a difficult few weeks and months for supporters, the good news started to roll in on Saturday morning with the statement from the EFL outlining how Morton House Management were pulling out of their proposed hostile takeover of the club.
And many supporters will have heard that news filter through on their way to Northampton Town, where Dale would go on to pick up their first three points of the campaign and a first win under Robbie Stockdale thanks to goals from Max Taylor, Josh Andrews and Abraham Odoh.
Then, with several players returning from an enforced break due to COVID-19, Dale made it two wins from two on Tuesday night with an EFL Cup victory against League One Shrewsbury Town, setting up a Third Round tie with Premier League Burnley - a local derby that many fans will never have seen played before.
And now, to top off the week of all weeks, the club have done their utmost to turn the weekend fixture against Colchester United into a festival of football, with the match moved to Friday night to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Rochdale's first ever Football League fixture.
For a club our size, who have never reached as high as the second tier of the pyramid, to be celebrating 100 years in the Football League is a magnificent achievement and the club are rightly taking every opportunity to celebrate, with a raft of former players set to be in attendance alongside a pre-match outdoor bar and other activities before kick-off.
But more importantly, on the field it is a chance for Robbie Stockdale to earn his first home win and after last year's struggles at Spotland, he'll be acutely aware of how important it will be to get three points in front of the home crowd sooner rather than later.
Jake Beesley, Aidy White and Conor Grant returned to the match day squad on Tuesday night following their isolation periods, with the former firing home Dale's first from the penalty spot before a Danny Cashman header sealed the victory at the New Meadow.
Jimmy Keohane made his first start of the campaign at left wing-back in that fixture after an encouraging 45 minutes from the bench at Northampton, where he replaced Matt Done who returned to the bench in the second half on crutches, indicating that he could be out for a while.
Debutant Jeriel Dorsett was also introduced at half-time in that game for the injury Sam Graham and the Reading loanee kept his spot for the trip to Shrewsbury, where goalkeeper Joel Coleman replaced Jay Lynch for his first start.
Another midfielder joined Dale's ranks this week in former Feyenoord man Liam Kelly, although boss Robbie Stockdale indicated in his interview regarding that signing that the 25 year old is unlikely to be up to match speed just yet so if he does feature on Friday, it will more than likely be from the bench.
The starting eleven is a tough one to call here after two good displays in the last week with some changes made between the games and with energy levels among those that started both surely sapping.
But with the crowd surely in good heart and confidence high among the players, will fans be able to see Dale win at Spotland in the flesh for the first time in almost 18 months?
In fact, this is so much the case, that I was shocked to look at the recent results between the two sides and find that we've played them eight times in the last 11 years as I have no recollection of any of those games, aside from seeing Calvin Andrew score in a highlights package of an end of season dead rubber away from home. But then, something as rare as a Calvin Andrew goal is going to stick with you.
Having been relegated from League One in 2016, the U's finished in the top half of the League Two table in four consecutive seasons and enjoying a particularly successful 2019/2020 campaign in which they beat Tottenham Hotspur in the EFL Cup and reached the play-offs, only to lose out to Exeter at the semi-final stage.
However, following the departure of manager John McGreal, it was a more difficult campaign last time out as his former assistant Steve Ball struggled to maintain any consistency and was eventually replaced by Hayden Mullins, originally on a caretaker basis but now in charge permanently.
Eventually, the U's ended the campaign in 20th place, prompting the former West Ham midfielder to reshape his squad over the summer with a view to climbing the table. Frank Nouble returned following a brief spell at Plymouth, while the experienced quartet of Cole Skuse, Luke Chambers, Freddie Sears and Alan Judge all arrived from Ipswich Town.
Mullins and his side did get off to a slow start originally, failing to score in their first three games in drawing at Carlisle United and losing 1-0 to Birmingham City in the EFL Cup and 0-1 to Northampton Town in the league.
An improved home performance secured a point in a 1-1 draw with Mansfield Town, before the team finally got off the mark in terms of wins last weekend, racing into a 0-2 lead after 12 minutes at Oldham and eventually clinging on to win 1-2.
Given that Latics currently sit bottom of the table without a point, it remains to be seen how impressive that victory at Boundary Park actually was and it remains to be seen whether Mullins' reliance on experience will pay dividends over the course of the season.
But confidence will no doubt be higher after that victory as they look to end a run of four straight wins for Rochdale within the meetings between these two teams.
25 Feb 2012 - Colchester United v Rochdale D 0-0 League One
Photo: Action Images
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