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Rochdale 0 v 1 Crawley Town
SkyBet League Two
Saturday, 9th October 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Match Preview: Dale vs Crawley
Friday, 8th Oct 2021 14:32 by AtThePeake

Can Robbie Stockdale's Rochdale bounce back to form with a win over Crawley Town at Spotland this Saturday afternoon?

Date: Saturday 9th October
Kick-off: 3.00pm
Venue: Spotland
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THE DALE:
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For many Dale fans, Robbie Stockdale's honeymoon period in charge of the club is now over after a poor spell of form has seen the club slip back down the table a little.

After an indifferent start to the campaign, Dale had appeared to be finding their feet with victories over Port Vale and Tranmere and had fans dreaming of a campaign to be proud of.

And of course, that could still be the case - but it seems far less likely now as the team come into Saturday's fixture on the back of a five game winless run in all competitions.

Said run started at Field Mill, where Dale were unable to hold onto a narrow lead against Mansfield Town and ended up drawing 1-1 having struggled to hold onto even a point in the latter stages of the match.

A 4-1 defeat to Burnley in the EFL Cup was perhaps to be expected, but the derby day loss to relegation-threatened local rivals Oldham in Dale's last home game was something of a coupon-buster and will have given the manager some headaches no doubt.

The travelling fans will have hoped for a response at Valley Parade last week, but Dale were wasteful in the final third and slipped to a 2-0 defeat against an out-of-form Bradford before a last-gasp own goal condemned the side to an EFL Trophy defeat at Port Vale on Tuesday night.

It's now time for a genuine response in this home fixture, with some tough trips to the likes of Barrow and Salford just around the corner. A defeat here and people will start to question what direction the season is heading in.

One question for Stockdale to ponder is whether to move away from the 3-5-2/3-4-3 that he has favoured over the course of the season so far, given that it no longer seems to be getting the best out of the side.

In Jeriel Dorsett and Sam Graham either side of Eoghan O'Connell, there is perhaps a lack of quality on the ball in those two wider centre-back spots and indeed Max Taylor must be wondering what he did to deserve to be left out of the team in recent matches.

Aidy White performed well on Tuesday night in the EFL Trophy by all accounts and may feel that he could slot in on the left side of the back three or even at left wing-back, although it would perhaps be a surprise to see Jimmy Keohane drop out of the squad.

Likewise, Corey O'Keeffe will expect to retain his position on the right side of defence either in a four or a three, despite a couple of less impressive displays in the last few weeks after a scintillating spell of form through late August and early September.

Liam Kelly again looked bright coming off the bench against Bradford and may feel he's worth a start at this stage. Aaron Morley will expect to start once again with Stephen Dooley and George Broadbent the other options over Kelly in the centre of the park.

With Josh Andrews the only confirmed absentee, Jake Beesley faces little threat to his position as the central striker. He should've been laid in for a simple goal against Bradford last week but Danny Cashman opted to go for goal and lacked composure in the final third on more than one occasion.

The Coventry loanee will perhaps drop to the bench here with Alex Newby and Abraham Odoh in contention for the remaining starting berths but Connor Grant has been absent recently and some fans have been calling for Stockdale to find a way to introduce him into the team either in midfield or in a wide attacking role.

Dale and Crawley have shared a division just once before in 2014/2015 and in that campaign, Keith Hill's men ran out 0-4 winners away from home and 4-1 winners at Spotland. A similarly dominant performance from the side this Saturday wouldn't go amiss.
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THE OPPOSITION:
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Having won promotion into the Football League in 2011 as winners of the Conference, Crawley Town have established themselves as a solid lower league club in the last 10 years.

The Red Devils even spent three years in League One, although their relegation in 2015 almost led to them slipping out of the EFL altogether the following season as downward momentum took them to a 20th placed finish, but since then they haven't finished lower than 19th in League Two.

That being said, the Sussex-based club had also failed to register a top-half finish during those seasons up until last year, when they managed to sneak into 12th position by the end of the campaign.

While that may have been seen as an achievement for a club that have struggled in the bottom half of the division for the majority of the last 5 or 6 seasons, you can bet that manager John Yems won't have seen it that way.

Yems,who never played professionally after being forced into a young retirement due to injury while with Millwall's reserves, has become a well-known figure among lower league circles since his appointment in December 2019 for his explosive post-match press conferences.

Such has been the nature of the criticism that the Crawley boss has handed out at times that he has courted criticism for his management style - but he'll have felt vindicated when his side smashed Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds United 3-0 in the FA Cup last season.

This time around, mid-table perhaps looks like the most likely outcome for Crawley once again. As things stand, the Red Devils sit in 14th place in the table - although they have struggled on the road and lost four of their five away matches thus far.

The make-up of the squad is an interesting one, with Yems clearly keen to supplemented talented young players being given a chance to express themselves in the EFL with more seasoned pros including goalkeeper Glenn Morris (37) and centre-back Tony Craig (36).

Among the youngger stars to look out for are Cypriot defender Nick Tasroulla and Southampton loanee Will Ferry while in attack, Tom Nichols and Kwesi Appiah have always carried a goal threat in the lower leagues.

Crawley, as is the case with many mid-table clubs, can be a little unpredictable. While Dale will feel they have enough quality to secure a win in front of their own fans here, Crawley are capable of dismantling better teams on their day and perhaps the outcome of this game hinges on which version of Yems' side shows up at Spotland on Saturday.
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FORM BOOK:
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Rochdale:
18th September - League Two - Mansfield Town 1-1 Rochdale
21st September - EFL Cup - Burnley 4-1 Rochdale
25th September - League Two - Rochdale 0-1 Oldham Athletic
2nd October - League Two - Bradford City 2-0 Rochdale
5th October - EFL Trophy - Port Vale 1-0 Rochdale

Crawley Town:
18th September - League Two - Colchester United 0-1 Crawley Town
21st September - League Two - Crawley Town 2-2 Harrogate Town
25th September - League Two - Crawley Town 2-1 Bradford City
2nd October - League Two - Tranmere Rovers 2-1 Crawley Town
5th October - EFL Trophy - Crawley Town 0-4 Leyton Orient

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HEAD TO HEAD:
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ROCHDALE - 2
DRAW - 0
CRAWLEY - 0

06 Sep 2014 - Crawley Town 0-4 Rochdale - League One
17 Jan 2015 - Rochdale 4-1 Crawley Town - League One

Photo: Action Images



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