Rochdale are approaching a big seasonal crossroads this month, with two important games coming up that could go some way to establishing how they will fare come May.
The first of those matches is on Saturday when they take on Plymouth at Spotland. (The Crown Oil Arena) This game already starts to look like a must win for Keith Hill if he wants to avoid slipping into a relegation battle like last season.
Plymouth finds themselves 22nd with a 4 point gap having opened up to safety already, the odds look slimmer by the week that they will manage to go on to have a successful season like last year. Rochdale have to be looking at this a good chance of getting three points further away from that drop zone, and with improved performances coming of late as touched upon in previous articles, might we about to see them hit form at one of the most crucial points in the season?
The second match this month I would suggest is season defining is Rochdale’s clash with rock-bottom Bradford. Which is their last game of the year on Saturday the 29th of December. Rochdale actually managed to come away with all 3 points in the reverse fixture back in October albeit thanks too 2 Ian Henderson penalties, 1 of only 3 wins away from home in the league so far this season for them.
So they should have no fear of facing this Bradford side on home turf. On a side note worth mentioning – a win would be a fitting tribute to the long-standing chairman Chris Dunphy who is vacating the role after playing a major part in leading the clubs direction and financial stability, to the envy of many lower league clubs in over 30 years at the club as director and chairman.
These are the type of games Rochdale need at this crossroads, as much has been made of Rochdale’s tricky start to the season. Particularly at Spotland where they have already faced 6 of the top 8 this season and have only managed to pick 4 points up out a maximum of 24 in those games. So they have played some of the perceived stronger teams in the league this season, and excuses for their league position can be made in that respect.
But there comes a point where they have to start stringing wins together and, getting points on the board if they want to avoid being at the wrong end of the table in May. I believe this month and run of fixtures over the festive period are not only season-defining but, offer a real chance of climbing the table and entering 2019 in a stronger position than they are now.