|Bradford City 2 v 0 Rochdale|
SkyBet League Two
Saturday, 2nd October 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Match Preview: Bradford vs Dale
Thursday, 30th Sep 2021 16:00 by AtThePeake
Dale will look to bounce back from derby day defeat to Oldham at first opportunity as they make the short trip to the wrong side of the Pennines to face Bradford City on Saturday.
Date: Saturday 2nd October
Rochdale will be looking to regain their league form this Saturday, but they face a tough test with a trip to one of the pre-season title favourites, Bradford City.
The Dale had been enjoying a strong spell of form in the league until last weekend when a five-game unbeaten run came to an end in rather embarrassing circumstances at Spotland.
Local rivals Oldham Athletic were the opponents, a club that could very much be considered to be in crisis at the moment as they sit bottom of the League Two table and fans continue to vociferously protest against vastly unpopular owner Abdallah Lemsagam.
However, I made the point in last week's preview of that fixture that it's always these kinds of fixtures you have to be wary of at Rochdale and perhaps in League Two altogether - things never quite seem to go the way you expect.
In the end, it was a rather insipid display from the hosts on derby day and an Oldham side that were clearly keen to give their suffering supporters something to shout about managed to do exactly that, escaping with a deserved 0-1 victory.
Dale did come close a few times, twice striking the woodwork through Aaron Morley and Eoghan O'Connell, but in reality an equaliser would've been completely undeserved as Oldham had the better of the game and were good value for their three points.
David Keillor-Dunn's stunning finish was enough to give the Latics the victory, but the stand-out performer for many on the day was former Dale defender Harrison McGahey, who appeared to have a point to prove on his Oldham debut.
Stockdale did as expected in that game and slightly rotated his squad, with George Broadbent coming in for Stephen Dooley in midfield and Sam Graham returning to the starting eleven on the right side of the back three.
Liam Kelly was a rare bright spark for Dale in the game, coming off the bench and looking positive with his play, even if he was unable to create a breakthrough to lead to an equaliser. Perhaps he will now be fighting with Dooley for the starting berth alongside Aaron Morley in central midfield.
Behind those two, Jeriel Dorsett would perhaps be lucky to keep his place following a poor display against the Latics, but Joel Coleman appears to be settled between the sticks and Eoghan O'Connell continues to be the side's defensive lynchpin. Max Taylor will feel that he deserves to be reinstated in the starting line-up also following that defeat last time out.
Corey O'Keeffe wasn't at his scintillating best versus Oldham, nor in the EFL Cup defeat at Burnley, but will likely start against at right wing-back, while Jimmy Keohane will be expecting to start on the left despite pressure from Matt Done and Aidan White.
In the attacking areas, Jake Beesley will play centrally and any two of Abraham Odoh, Danny Cashman and Alex Newby could start either side of him, although the latter two have started in both of Dale's last two league fixtures.
Perhaps that defeat will see a change of shape from Stockdale in this game to counter Bradford's specific threats, although Dale have stuck to the wing-backs since the second game of the season so that would perhaps be a slight over-reaction. Changes in personnel are to be expected however.
Last minute winners from Adam Le Fondre and Calvin Andrew have sent the away end into raptures at Valley Parade, while a 0-3 win for the Dale in the 2009/2010 campaign at this ground is fondly remembered by many as one of the best performances in the club's history. Can that history repeat itself this weekend?
The Bantams had been one of the pre-season favourites for promotion this yea and they made a fine start in attempting to live up to those expectations by picking up 10 points with three wins and a draw in their first four matches of the campaign.
However, since then, things have taken a bit of a turn for the worse at Valley Parade and they come into this fixture having not won in their last seven games in all competitions, although they're still yet to lose at home in the league thus far.
The main reason for such optimism at Valley Parade prior to the campaign was the hiring of manager Derek Adams, fresh from taking relatively lowly Morecambe to promotion via the play-offs in League Two last season.
Formerly of Plymouth Argyle and Ross County, Adams has a reputation for being something of a hard taskmaster, which can at times make him unpopular within the dressing room - but if he can replicate the achievements of last season's Shrimps side, he'll have plenty of friends in West Yorkshire this season.
The Scotsman's squad was unsurprisingly revamped during the summer, with former Pilgrims charges Oscar Threlkeld and Yann Songo'o brought in to help sure up the defence as well as Irish centre-back Fiacre Kelleher from Wrexham.
Some eye-catching attacking signings also arrived at Valley Parade in the summer, including Caolan Lavery, Lee Angol and Andy Cook, with the latter having found the net four times already for his new club this term.
Another of Derek Adams' former Plymouth players was already waiting for him when he arrived at Bradford City and is a name familiar to Dale fans. Niall Canavan made 39 league appearances for the Dale between 2016 and 2018, starting off well before becoming something of a liability towards the latter stages of his spell.
Although not in the best of form at the moment, this Bradford City squad is bursting with experience and in Adams they have a manager that makes them hard to beat. If he can harness the power of the Bantams' very large home crowd for this level, they will be a force to be reckoned with this season.
From a Dale point of view however, it'll be a case of Stockdale looking for a response in what could be another learning curve for many of his young charges, having to bounce back from a humbling derby loss in what is doubtless one of the toughest fixtures of the season on paper.
09 Dec 2017 - Bradford City v Rochdale - L - 4-3 - League One
Photo: Action Images
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