Rochdale’s 5-1 loss to Plymouth last weekend, coupled with other results, saw Dale drop into the bottom four.
So far Dale have collected only four points in nine league games in 2019.
This is alarming and is definitely relegation form, conceding 72 goals in League One so far this season, is always going to see any team struggle. In my opinion, the record amount of goals conceded this season is largely down to poor defensive mistake and frailties. Sadly, for the most part, the defence just isn’t strong enough for this league. However, they have scored 42, which is better than anyone else in the drop zone and Dale posses the league’s joint-third top scorer in Ian Henderson, but a goal difference of -30 flatters to deceive at this lowly level.
Next up is the daunting challenge of playing away at league leaders Luton. The task facing them is made harder by the fact Ethan-Ebanks Landell, who has arguably been Rochdale’s best defender since signing on loan from Wolves in January, is suspended after his red against Plymouth, for an indisputable handling incident.
There is light potentially at the end of the tunnel, as Rochdale’s other 5 league games in March are against sides in the bottom half of the table. Keith Hill will need to at least pick up 9 points in March in the aforementioned games.
Here are three of those games that I believe are the most ‘winnable’…
Rochdale vs Shrewsbury – 9th March
At the time of writing Shrewsbury have the worst away form in the league. With only 12 points from their 17 games away from home this season. A record which is actually worse than Rochdale’s home record. This represents a great chance for Dale to start to build a run of form.
Rochdale vs Oxford – 12th March
Oxford also visit Spotland just a few days later on Tuesday the 12th. The U’s have only won once away from home all season, with that win coming against Blackpool on Saturday. Dale will be hoping they are poor travellers once again when they make the long journey up from Oxfordshire on a cold Tuesday night.
Accrington vs Rochdale – 16th March
Their week is complete with a local trip to rivals Accrington. As the form table suggests, Rochdale have got their better results away from home this season.
The Wham stadium has been a place of comfort for Dale in recent years as they have won 4 of their last 5 visits.
If Rochdale can manage to take maximum points in these games it will give them a platform to build on in their survival bid.
This will be a make or break month for Rochdale, and maybe for Keith Hill himself.