Daggers v Rochdale MATCH PREVIEW

ROCHDALE supporters will be desperate for their side to finally win promotion from League Two this season and end over 30 years of waiting.

by MIKE SIMMONDS

ROCHDALE supporters will be desperate for their side to finally win promotion from League Two this season and end over 30 years of waiting.

For the Dale have resided in the bottom division of the Football League since 1974, the longest time any side has remained at the basement level.

They have reached the play-offs three times since the turn of the century, twice in the last two seasons, and came closest in 2007-08, losing at Wembley to Stockport County 3-2.


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Manager Keith Hill oversaw both of those attempts, having taken over in December 2006 and the former Dale player has instilled an attractive brand of football during his tenure.

Daggers boss John Still is obviously a fan, labelling Saturday's opponents the best he came up against last season.

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This season got off to an inauspicious start for Dale, with two defeats and a draw in their opening four matches, while they were dumped out of the Carling Cup 3-0 by Sheffield Wednesday.

The league form picked up quickly though as five wins from six demonstrate, including four in a row, which put them right back into the promotion race.

They have been rather hit and miss this season though, with home defeats by Accrington one week, followed by a 4-0 spanking of then leaders Bournemouth at Dean Court the following.

They haven't won for three games coming into Saturday though, with a 3-3 draw at Luton in the cup followed by defeat in the replay and then a 3-2 loss to Chesterfield last weekend.

Hill was dealt a massive blow in the summer, when leading scorer Adam le Fondre opted to move to Rotherham.

The 22-year-old had netted 21 goals last season, and has shown that was no fluke with 11 for the Millers already this time round.

The portly Lee McEvilly was also on his way, but promising youngster Will Buckley remained and has netted three strikes this season, although newspaper reports suggest Dale may have to brace themselves for another bid from Rotherham.

One area that the visitors don't lack in is goals though, as the ever-dangerous Chris Dagnall has nine this year, while Oldham striker Chris O'Grady has made a good impact since his loan move, netting six times.

Norwich midfielder Simon Whaley impressed in his time at Spotland, but is now back with his parent club, although Hull City midfielder Will Atkinson joined on loan this week.

Hill has admitted he might have to dip into the loan market again soon, but also warned that like Daggers, his squad might be further broken up this season.

"You can look at the squad we have and suggest it may be good enough to win promotion, but that doesn't take into consideration the fact we have to sell players," he said.

"I completely understand the need for the club to sell, especially in the current financial climate, but when you look at recently promoted sides like Brentford and Gillingham, they went up by keeping their squads intact."

TEAM NEWS

Daggers: Daggers right back Abu Ogogo is now available after suspension, while Adam Miller and Nana Ofori-Twumasi both made their debuts last weekend.

Josh Scott and Will Antwi are both fit again now after missing the Accrington win, meaning Danny Spiller is the only player on the sidelines.

Rochdale: Nathan Stanton is suspended, while loanees Dale Stephens and Simon Whaley have returned to their clubs. Former Northern Ireland international Ciaran Toner is still out, as are goalkeepers Kenny Arthur and Matt Edwards.

Will Buckley and Joe Thompson are both minor doubts, but Adam Rundle is available for selection.

WE'VE MET BEFORE

Daggers have never lost to Rochdale at home, as their previous two encounters ended in a 3-2 win and a 1-1 draw.

Last season, the visitors had led 2-1 at half time, and were on course for victory until Matt Ritchie netted on 74 minutes, and Glen Southam fired home a cracker shortly afterwards.

In fact Daggers did the double over their Spotland opponents last campaign, but Rochdale did win the opening game between the sides, 1-0, thanks to a Danny Foster own goal.

ONE TO WATCH

Chris Dagnall - Dale have a number of goal threats, but none are more potent at this moment in time than the 23-year-old Dagnall, who has nine goals this season.

Started his career at Tranmere, before a loan move to Spotland was made permanent in July 2006 and since then, he hasn't looked back.

FROM THE DUGOUT

"Promotion would be massive for me but it's about the town and the supporters," said Rochdale chairman Chris Dunphy.

"Our supporters are probably the longest-suffering in the league. We had a day out at Wembley for the play-off final a couple of seasons ago and it's time we ended the wait.

"We're trying to build a team the town can be proud of and put behind us the jokes for good. We want to put on entertainment here - and we've got lots of spare seats!"

PREDICTION

Goals galore as Daggers and Rochdale hold each other to a 2-2 draw.

Can Daggers emerge victorious against Rochdale ? Email: mike.simmonds@archant.co.uk

The Post is now on Twitter, so if you follow twitter.com/Post_DagRed then you will get up to the minute updates on goings on at Victoria Road.

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