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Swindon Town 2 v 2 Rochdale
SkyBet League Two
Saturday, 16th October 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Match Preview: Swindon vs Dale
Friday, 15th Oct 2021 14:05 by AtThePeake

Dale's search for a return to form takes them to Wiltshire and the County Ground on Saturday, where Swindon Town are lying in wait.

Date: Saturday 16th October
Kick-off: 3.00pm
Venue: Spotland
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THE DALE:
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The last time a Dale side travelled to Swindon Town was on the opening day of the 2020/2021 season and to say things have changed for both clubs since then would be something of an understatement.

Not only do both sides now reside in the fourth tier rather than the third, but they're both under new ownership, with new managers and very different squads, to the point where it's hard to believe only 13 month separate that fixture with this one.

Dale fell to a 3-1 defeat at the County Ground that day but Robbie Stockdale will be hoping to turn his team's fortunes around as they head to Wiltshire on the back of a five game losing streak in all competitions.

Starting with an EFL Cup defeat at the hands of Premier League outfit Burnley, Dale have since turned in some rather tepid displays to more than temper the optimism that had crept into the fanbase after some better performances at the start of September.

A 1-0 defeat to local rivals Oldham followed that loss at Turf Moor and since then Stockdale's men have also lost against Bradford City and Crawley Town in the league as well as Port Vale in the EFL Cup.

That defeat to Crawley Town last time out was particularly galling as Dale created very little in front of a frustrated home crowd in what was one of the worst home performances seen in a long time (which is saying a lot).

A response needs to come soon as supporters have shown a lot of faith and trust in Robbie Stockdale in his early stages as at the club in what is his first managerial role, but that faith will start to wane if we see more performances like those against Crawley and Oldham in particular.

Last season, then-manager Brian Barry-Murphy came in for criticism for remaining stubbornly unmovable in terms of the style of play he wanted to see from the team, but now Stockdale is starting to come in for similar criticism.

Last Saturday in particular, it was clear to see that the 5-2-3 formation was failing to cause Crawley Town any problems but even when Stockdale looked to the bench to change things, the substitutions were very much like for like and didn't change the set-up if the team in any discernible way until the final few minutes.

With form tumbling off a cliff, Stockdale has some decisions to make. Is it time to move away from the three central defenders, or will he double down and stick to his guns, particularly with two difficult away fixtures coming up in the next few days against Swindon Town and Salford City?

Either way, Max Taylor will be hoping for a recall to the side as both Sam Graham and Jeriel Dorsett have desperately struggled in recent weeks and even Eoghan O'Connell, who is surely the first name on the team sheet, put in a poor display against the Red Devils at Spotland last time out.

Liam Kelly was afforded a first league start against Crawley but did little to impress so George Broadbent may feel he is worth another chance while Stephen Dooley will hope to be considered as well.

Jimmy Keohane was left out last weekend and even Matt Done was preferred to him as an option from the bench when replacing Aidy White. Fans will be hoping Stockdale can find a way to get last year's Player of the Season into the team somehow, particularly given his experience in the middle of the park if needed.

Both Conor Grant and Abraham Odoh flattered to deceive against Crawley, but neither Alex Newby nor Danny Cashman did much to change the flow of the game when they were introduced as a double sub, although striker Jake Beesley is a surefire starter with Josh Andrews still out injured.

The slump in form needs addressing by the team very quickly as last week's performance looked like that of a team very low on confidence. The longer that continues, the more worried supporters will be for the rest of the season ahead.
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THE OPPOSITION:
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Swindon's struggles off the field have dominated the headlines about the club in recent years and their relegation last term came as no surprise as Lee Power's mismanagement as owner led to a disjointed team and fanbase, which was no match for most League One sides in the end.

As the relegation began to look inevitable last term, Power warned of potential bankruptcy and was charged with breaching FA regulations concerning club funding in April eventually leading to the resignation of manager John Sheridan.

Former Colchester manager John McGreal came in as his replacement only to walk away without managing a competitive fixture due to the ownership problems alongside CEO Director of Football Paul Jewell and Chief Exec Steve Anderson as players and ground rent went unpaid through the summer months.

Thankfully, a resolution was finally found as Australian businessman Clem Morfuni purchased a controlling share in the club, quickly moving to instal Ben Garner (formerly of Bristol Rovers) as manager and tasking him with rebuilding a squad that had understandably been decimated during a summer of turmoil.

No fewer than 15 new signings (including four loans) have arrived at Swindon Town since July 26, the most eye-catching of which is undoubtedly Welsh international Jonny Williams who, if he stays fit, could be one of the stand-out players in League Two this season.

And it's a case of so far so good for the club on the pitch so far this season. With supporters understandably delighted to have the club back in safe hands after Power's involvement, a real feel-good factor seems to be surrounding the County Ground right now and that's evident in the results the team are achieving on the pitch.

As things stand, the Robins sit in 3rd place in the table with 19 points on the board from just 11 fixtures with Ben Gladwin, currently in his fourth spell at the club, pulling the strings in midfield and talented loanees Tyreece Simpson and Romoney Crichlow doing the business at opposite ends of the pitch.

Form coming into Saturday's fixture is impressive too. League leaders Forest Green Rovers were dispatched last week by the Robins and a 1-3 win over League One side Plymouth Argyle in the EFL Trophy means they've lost just one of their last 10 fixtures in all competitions.

The head-to-head record between Swindon and Dale is an interesting one. Although since 2014 the clubs have shared the spoils with four wins each and one draw, Dale's victory at the County Ground in that year (which came via a last-minute Bastien Hery header), was their first ever against the Robins at the 15th time of asking.

Although the Robins ran out 2-4 winners at Spotland later in the 2014/2015 campaign, there hasn't been an away win in the following 7 match-ups between the two clubs. Can Dale upset the odds to break that streak on Saturday afternoon?
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FORM BOOK:
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Swindon Town:
18th September - League Two - Northampton Town 1-1 Swindon Town
25th September - League Two - Swindon Town 0-0 Colchester United
2nd October - League Two - Bristol Rovers 1-3 Swindon Town
9th October - League Two - Forest Green Rovers 0-2 Swindon Town
12th October - EFL Trophy - Plymouth Argyle 1-3 Swindon Town

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
9th October - League Two - Rochdale 0-1 Crawley Town

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HEAD TO HEAD:
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SWINDON TOWN - 13
DRAW - 7
ROCHDALE - 4

30 Apr 2016 - Rochdale 2-2 Swindon Town - League One
18 Oct 2016 - Swindon Town 3-0 Rochdale - League One
19 Nov 2016 - Rochdale 4-0 Swindon Town - League One
12 Sep 2020 - Swindon Town 3-1 Rochdale - League One
13 Apr 2021 - Rochdale 2-1 Swindon Town - League One

Photo: Action Images



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