|Rochdale 4 v 2 Barnet|
Saturday, 16th September 2023 Kick-off 15:00
Match Preview: Dale vs Barnet
Thursday, 14th Sep 2023 09:54 by AtThePeake
A tough test faces Jim McNulty's men this weekend as the National League's early pace-setters Barnet make the trip to Spotland.
- Rochdale vs Barnet
A mixed bag of a season so far for Dale continued last weekend with a 1-1 draw at struggling Kidderminster. In the first half, Dale toiled with the ball to little effect and went in a goal down at the break thanks to a well-taken strike from midfielder Joe Leesley despite having more possession than their opponents.
The second-half introductions of Jimmy Keohane and Jesurun Uchegbulam from the bench helped inject some impetus on the right side of the field and put Dale on top, with the pressure eventually resulting in an equaliser. Skipper Ethan Ebanks-Landell headed home a Ryan East corner to earn Dale a point.
That exciting cameo from Uchegbulam will no doubt have supporters clamoring for his inclusion from the start this Saturday, but we're yet to see how he fit he is and whether he'll be ready to make his home debut from the off on Saturday, with his three appearances thus far all coming away from Spotland.
A few changes were made for that trip to Aggborough, with Keohane one of those to lose his place in the starting eleven as well as Kyle Ferguson and Ian Henderson. All three will be hoping for a recall here, although youngster George Nevett put in another fine display in the draw at Aggborough.
After eight games, Dale find themselves in 10th position, which may be just about right for the performances that have been turned in so far. While there is an obvious willingness to play possession football under McNulty, a lack of direct attacking options through injury (and the struggles of winger Michael Afuye to meet the pace of National League level) have left the team looking a little short of ideas at times.
Still, given that many Dale fans were anticipating another relegation struggle this season, the start has been better than most expected and a result against high-flying Barnet on Saturday will given the team's start to life in the National League a glossier sheen than it has after two less impressive displays in the last two games.
“We’ve raised the bar so far this season. We’re asking the players to do things that maybe we didn’t ask them to do last season and they’re responding to that" Barnet gaffer Dean Brennan told www.thenationalleague.org.uk last weekend as his side hit the top of the table following a thumping win over Altrincham.
And he isn't wrong, they are responding. Six weeks and eight games into the season, the Bees are sitting pretty at the top of the National League table, with six wins and just one defeat to their name so far.
The Bees have been in terrific form, their only defeat coming in a London derby with Dagenham & Redbridge at the end of last month, but they've since bounced back with a trio of consecutive wins over Ebbsfleet, Boreham Wood and as mentioned previously, Altrincham last weekend - a result which took them over Chesterfield on goal difference at the top of the table.
The likes of Harry Pritchard, Laurie Walker and Ben Coker bring the experience to this Bees side along with with the prolific Nicke Kabamba, who has truly found his goalscoring touch since moving to The Hive at the start of last season. After 19 league goals last term, the Congolese forward has bagged six times in the opening eight games of this season.
Helping to supply Kabamba are youngster Zak Brunt, who's made a blistering start to life at Barnet and former Peterborough man Idris Kanu, who like the striker is now in his second season at The Hive where he appears to have really found a home for his talents.
With a good mix of youth and experience and a manager looking to push a talented group to the upper limit of it's abilities, Barnet are a good shout for promotion from the National League this season and represent a very tough test for Jim McNulty's Rochdale at Spotland this Saturday.
HEAD TO HEAD
Barnet have had the slight better of Rochdale over the history of the two team's meetings, but Dale had the upper hand in more recent fixtures, losing only two of their last ten games against the Bees.
However, the last game between the two sides was played over 10 years ago in the 2012/2013 season as the two teams played out a goalless draw in the February of Barnet's last campaign as a Football League club.
The Bees last trip to Spotland resulted in a 2-0 victory for Rochdale earlier in 2012/2013, with Ashley Grimes and Dele Adebola on the scoresheet for the hosts that day.
GAMES - 32
03 Mar 2009 - Barnet 2-1 Rochdale - League Two
Photo: Action Images
Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.
You need to login in order to post your comments
[ Vote here ]