|Rochdale 2 v 2 Southend United|
Saturday, 30th September 2023 Kick-off 15:00
Match Preview: Rochdale vs Southend
Thursday, 28th Sep 2023 14:49 by AtThePeake
Crisis club Southend make the trip to Spotland this weekend as Dale look to claw their way back into the play-off positions.
- Rochdale vs Southend
"A work in progress" was how Rochdale manager Jim McNulty described his team following Tuesday night's televised defeat to Chesterfield and despite the poor result, many supporters agreed with his assessment that the side potentially deserved something from the game against the league leaders.
With a much bigger budget clearly available to them than most teams in the league this season, Chesterfield are expected to win the title and with that win at Spotland on Tuesday, thanks to first-half headers from Armando Dobra and Tom Naylor they've now won seven games on the spin and sit five points clear at the top of the table.
But Rochdale were very much their equals on Tuesday night, despite some tired legs by the end of the 90 minutes, with Jim McNulty having little room to rotate his squad despite the fixture pile-up that many National League teams have had to contend with over the last few weeks and some stand-out performances from the likes of Adam Clayton and George Nevett in particular will have pleased the manager.
There were some less inspiring performances however, with Jesurun Uchegbulam struggling to make an impact against his former club and Kwaku Oduroh turning in a lacklustre display at centre back. Whether that will see either of those players drop out of the side on Saturday remains to be seen, although we will expect to see a change at left-back following a muscular injury to Cameron John. Max Conway appears to be in line for a start on Saturday as a result.
The only other missing player remains the ill Devante Rodney, although it remains to be seen when Dale's top scorer from last season will be ready to rejoin the squad after a relatively lengthy absence from the team.
For McNulty, Saturday offers the opportunity to bounce back from Tuesday's defeat before facing another promotion candidate this week in the shape of Solihull Moors. However, despite mounting problems off the field at Roots Hall, Southend are not to be taken lightly as some of their results so far this season have shown.
Southend appear to be the real crisis club in the National League again this season and they sit second bottom in the table at the moment with just seven points on the board - despite winning five of their opening seven games.
A ten point deduction for failing to clear a debt to HM Revenue and Customs is among the least of Southend's worries at the moment however, as a High Court date of 4th October could result in the club being wound up if their £275,000 tax bill is not paid.
Vastly unpopular owner Ron Martin is reportedly speaking with potential purchasers, but fans have unsurprisingly lost all faith in the property developer and the club could be set to face another points deduction should he put them into administration if a new buyer is not found in the coming days and weeks.
Amid this incredibly difficult backdrop, Southend are hoping to battle on the field under Kevin Maher and they've picked up some eye-catching results so far despite obvious limitations, although they do make the long trip north on Saturday on the back of a run of just one win in their last five.
And while Dale fans bemoan a lack of squad depth after Tuesday's defeat to Chesterfield, the reality is that we don't know we're born. With wages going unpaid during the summer months, many players understandably upped sticks and Maher has had to name a bench of just three or fewer players in Southend's last four league fixtures.
The vastly experienced defender Jason Demetriou and keeper David Martin will look to keep things as tight as possible at the back for Southend while up top the dangerman is undoubtedly Scottish forward Harry Cardwell, who has defied expectations to bang in seven goals in 12 appearances so far in this campaign.
HEAD TO HEAD
ROCHDALE WINS: 17
Although Southend have had the better of Rochdale in the historical meetings between the clubs that stretch back to the first meeting way back in 1958, the Dale have actually won their last three consecutive matches against the Shrimpers.
The last meeting came in August 2019 at the start of the season that was cut short by COVID and it was a memorable performance and display from the Dale that day. Ian Henderson notched his 100th goal for the club at Roots Hall that day as, clad in all pink, the visitors romped to a 0-3 win.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
02 Sep 2017 - Southend United 0-0 Rochdale - League One
Photo: Action Images
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