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Rochdale travel to Portsmouth looking to take a step closer to safety

Looking back over the head-to-head meetings between the sides (Stats Via 11v11) the sides have met ten times since 1978. In them matches Rochdale have only managed one win – 2104 – and two draws.

Now in Brian Barry-Murphy’s mind, however much he’d love to win every game, he’d much prefer to take points off the teams in and around them and sacrifice any losses against the likes of Sunderland and Portsmouth.

Nevertheless, the renewed confidence within the squad following only one defeat in his six games in charge, and hoisting themselves out of the League Two relegation zone is there for all to see.

Barry-Murphy has instilled a way to win and got a tune out of a squad of players, who were quite frankly underachieving and under performing under the old regime for most of the season.

An away fixture to a team who have four straight wins under their belt in the league and fighting for a promotion place is not best welcomed. However, Rochdale pushed Sunderland close last week and they can draw experience from that result, alongside the fact they kept a clean sheet in a win mid week in the league since they last played Accrington Stanley back in November.

There are a six points separating 10 places in the league, a couple of wins and Dale could see themselves midtable, however, a couple of losses and they could be back in the relegation zone – it’s that tight.

With games coming up against Southend and Wycombe, who are both on a poor run of results, they are must win matches. So today, even if Dale grab a point it can be seen as a hugely positive result and one that further cements Barry-Murphys amazing turnaround at the club.

Rochdale fans, what do you think the result will be today?


BBM’s Spell in Charge of Rochdale Should Start With This 11 Against Sunderland

Brian Barry-Murphy was finally confirmed as Rochdale’s next manager at a press conference on Wednesday, being given a two year contract after presiding over an unbeaten run in his four games in temporary charge. Rochdale collected eight points during this time which has seen them get themselves back into contention for survival, in what has turned into quite a battle at the bottom.

His first game in permanent charge sees his side take on their biggest challenge thus far in his tenure, with Sunderland visiting Spotland. Rochdale fans will already have a good idea of the kind of team that will be on show from what lineups they have already seen him pick.

This is my speculation of a potential line up;

Goalkeeper: 1. Josh Lillis

Lillie’s return to fitness has seen the departure of Andy Lonergan back to Middlesbrough. His spell will be fondly remembered by fans for his high quality performances, but Josh’s return should see a stability between the sticks that the Spotland faithful haven’t seen this season.

Right Back: 2. Ryan McLaughlin

Ryan has been plagued with fitness and injury problems since his arrival but still represents Rochdale’s best option at right back at this current time, so hopefully he is able to kick on and avoid the treatment table in the future.

Centre Back: 6. Ethan Ebanks-Landell

I have waxed lyrical about him before so I will try and not go over old ground but for me he is Rochdale’s best centre back and is too good for the level he us currently operating it. One of the first names on my team sheet.

Centre Back: 3. Kgosi Ntlhe

Kgosi has been a revelation since his return from injury and has played his way into the starting 11 with a couple of impressive performances, chipping in at both ends with important tackles and goals.

Left Back: 39. Joe Bunney

Sadly, potentially Rochdale’s weakest position with only two real options there if Kgosi plays centrally. I would favour Joe Bunney there over Matty Done but neither are traditional left backs.

Right Midfield: 7. Stephen Dooley

Someone who hasn’t featured frequently under BBM yet but a player I believe should come into the team, as his dribbling and marauding runs down the wing could be vital at unlocking opposition defences.

Centre Midfield: 14. Oliver Rathbone

Another one who has greatly impressed since his return from injury, always giving 100%, and bringing a consistent energy and drive to the team from the middle of the pitch. Another of my easy picks.

Centre Midfield: 27. Ethan Hamilton

I rate Hamilton highly as he is another loan player I think will be operating at a loftier level next season. He complements Rathbone nicely and isn’t short on talent or passion.

Left Midfield: 19. Bradden Inman

Seems to have been in and out of the team a lot this season, never being able to hold down a regular spot, but I see him as one of Rochdale’s better wide options. He plays in a similar mould to Dooley and I think Rochdale will benefit from his creativity and dribbling.

Centre Attacking Midfield: 40. Ian Henderson

I don’t think much needs to be said as to why his inclusion is important with him being Rochdale’s top scorer this season. Without his goal tally of 17, Dale would surely be relegated already. It is impossible to underestimate his influence.

Striker: 18. Aaron Wilbraham

Another player who has played himself into a starting spot under BBM with his recent match winning brace against Scunthorpe. He looks set for a prolonged run in the first team in a season in which he has struggled to find consistency.

Subs: Wade, MJ Williams, Done, Keohane, Camps, Adshead & Andrew

(I am currently unaware of Zach Clough’s injury status but if fit I would expect him to take one of the spaces on the bench).

Heartbreak for Stockport County, Rochdale’s Survival Chances and it’s Too Early to Hand Out Awards!

This is the EFL and Below Show, your weekly look at all of the footballing action in Greater Manchester from outside of the Premier League.

Niall McCaughan from the Manchester Football Social is joined in the studio by Ian Foran and Aaron Benson from the Football Manc Cave.

Stockport County were within minutes of a Wembley final in the FA Trophy but came agonisingly short in a tense affair at Edgeley Park – County commentator Chris Ridgway joins us to chat Stockport’s season so far.

Rochdale picked up a valuable 3 points at the weekend and are still in with a great shout of staying in League One for another season – and the lads fume of the premature awarding of ‘Manager of the Season’ accolades!

ITUNES – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/manchester-football-social-efl-and-below-show/id1449475076?mt=2&i=1000433673276

ACAST – https://play.acast.com/s/eflandbelowshow/manchesterfootballsocial-eflandbelowshow-heartbreakforstockportcounty-rochdalessurvivalchancesanditstooearlytohandoutawards-

TWO Key Fixtures For Rochdale in April to Avoid Relegation

Following Dales win last week over Scunthorpe, Rochdale will be looking to increase their three game unbeaten run under temporary manager Brian Barry-Murphy.

At the time of writing it is unknown whether Andy Lonergan will have his emergency loan extended by another week, but his solid displays between the posts has been a major contributory factor towards Dales recent upturn in form and results.

Looking ahead to April there are two crucial games which stand out as absolute must wins to have a chance of staying up.

19th April – Rochdale vs Wycombe

The first big game in April for me is the home game against Gareth Ainsworth’s Wycombe Wanderers. This is a very winnable game in my opinion, especially because by this point I expect Wycombe to be safe and with a place in the play offs looking highly unlikely for them, this could be very much a nothing game to them.

This can only be to Rochdale’s advantage as they need every possible assistance to take three points from this game.

27th April – Rochdale vs Southend

Later the same month Rochdale are again at home to the currently managerless Southend United. Who dismissed Chris Powell this week following their defeat to Peterborough United, the culmination of a run of 10 games without a win. Rochdale and Southend are both struggling at the foot of the table so this is a must win game for both sides which, could lead to this being a proper old fashioned bottom of the table scrap.

Before these two games though Rochdale face the trip to Accrington in a rearranged game on Tuesday the 9th of April. The Wham Stadium has been a happy hunting ground for Rochdale in the past, so any points would be a welcome edition to Dale’s strive for League One survival.

I have already previously discussed the importance of the rescheduled Accrington game, in a previous article. An air of positivity has slowly been creeping back amongst the Spotland faithful and long may it continue

Huge Win For Rochdale Edges Them One Point Off Safety

Rochdale took another step towards League One safety on Saturday with a 3-1 win against Scunthorpe United at Spotland (Crown Oil Arena).

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Goals coming from the in-form Kgosi Ntlhe, and a brace from the veteran Aaron Wilbraham being enough to secure the 3 points. Wilbraham’s double saw him become the oldest player since Steve Claridge back in 2005 to achieve this in a League One match, and also the oldest player to score in the league this season. Taking his total consecutive seasons in which he has scored at least 2 goals to 21, which is very impressive.

The after effects of the result also saw a strange coincidence, as the day after the game, Stuart McCall was sacked as Scunthorpe manager, exactly 12 months to the day after Graham Alexander suffered the same fate after losing points against Rochdale in a 1-1 draw.

Most significantly for Rochdale though, the win, coupled with the fact they were the only team to win in the bottom half of the table, with Plymouth and Bristol Rovers drawing and Accrington, Scunthorpe, Shrewsbury, Southend, Walsall, AFC Wimbledon & Bradford all losing.

This has seen them gain significant ground and now know a win in their game in hand would see them out of the drop zone. Unfortunately, that game in hand is away at relegation rivals Accrington, and is now sandwiched between a tough week with Sunderland visiting Spotland and a tricky trip to Fratton Park either side of it.

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But as Dale caretaker manager Brian Barry Murphy has said “we are playing on a game to game basis” so up next is a trip to Priestfield to take on Steve Lovell’s Gillingham who currently being in 12th position. This will be no easy task, although with Dale taking seven points from three games since Brian Barry-Murphy, Tony Ellis and Lee Riley took charge – the new management team will be hoping this new found consistency will help in taking another stride towards League One safety.

Rochdale are in a 12 team Relegation Scrap, Playing This Midfield Duo Today COULD Edge Them Closer to Safety

Much has been made this week about the possibility of a 12-team relegation battle taking place in League One this season, as only 9 points separate bottom to 12th. Remarkably only 3 points separate 21st to 12th.

Rochdale have another great opportunity to take a big potential step closer to safety, when they take on Scunthorpe at Spotland today. They should be well rested after last weeks postponed game against Accrington and, according to caretaker manager Brian Barry-Murphy, only long term absentees; Josh Lillis, Rekeil Pyke & Zach Clough are missing for the match.

I believe these two players starting the game against Scunthorpe are crucial to coming away with all three points.

13. Jimmy Keohane.

Rochdale fans haven’t had much chance to see him in action since his signing. His only appearance this season coming in Dales last fixture against Oxford United. He was brought on following an injury to Ryan McLaughlin and although, not primarily a right back he looked an interesting proposition in that role.

When Keohane signed in February this year on a free transfer, former manager Keith Hill and current caretaker manager Brian Barry-Murphy spoke well of him, and expectations were high but for whatever reason, he was never given a place in his starting 11.

Many supporters at Spotland (Crown Oil Arena) were pleased to see his inclusion against Oxford, as it was seen to be Brian Barry-Murphy trying something different, which has been much needed recently, to instil a glimmer of hope for the Rochdale faithful.

14. Oliver Rathbone.

Oli’s commitment, unwavering stamina and energy has been missed at Spotland since his injury, and his return has been a contributory factor in Dale taking four points from the last two home games. His return to fitness from injury is a very welcome boost to the survival efforts, and he is perhaps a bit of an unsung hero.

Since Andy Cannon’s departure to Portsmouth in the January transfer window. Oli has been able to take over a central midfield position and hopefully, his determination will be a major part in Rochdale’s bid for League One survival.

Goalkeeper Andy Lonergan’s emergency loan has been extended by another week which is a vital move, considering his form of late. There has also been no update on the managerial position permanently and, with each day that passes by with no change you have to think BBM is strengthening his position for the role permanently.

Was Rochdale’s Next Manager at Spotland?

Following Tuesday nights less than inspiring 0-0 draw against fellow strugglers Oxford United, rumours have begin to circulate on various unofficial Rochdale AFC forums and social media discussion groups that ex-Ipswich manager Paul Hurst was seen at Spotland (Crown Oil Arena) last night.

Hurst is a man I have written about before in connection to the Rochdale job. He had a lengthy 15 year playing career, making 438 appearances for Rotherham, where he met his joint manager Rob Scott.

The two teamed up to start their management career with Ilkeston Town in which they took them from 9th to 2nd, winning promotion to the Conference North through the play offs. They shortly left due to the clubs worrying financial situation.

Rob Scott followed him to Boston where they once again earned promotion to the Conference North, as well as winning the Northern Premier League Challenge Cup and the Lincolnshire Senior Shield.

Next up was a move to Grimsby where he eventually separated from Scott after being 2 years together in the role. He eventually went onto achieve promotion with Grimsby, guiding them back to the Football League after a 6 year absence.

His success at Grimsby was noticed by Shrewsbury where he took up the managerial position in October 2016. Leading them to an ultimately unsuccessful play off final at Wembley, against the side who he featured for throughout his playing career – Rotherham.

This saw him move up a league again to Ipswich, but he was unable to ever really get a run going and won only once in his opening 14 league games and lost on penalties to Exeter in the EFL Cup. A run which saw him sacked after just 5 months, the shortest managerial reign in Ipswich history.

His sighting at Spotland has seen a shift in the betting market as seemingly people have been getting their money on him. He was 10/1 3rd favourite for the job with Sky Bet on Tuesday night. Yesterday morning he had come into 5/2 2nd favourite. Current caretaker Brian Barry-Murphy is now 3rd favourite at 3/1 with Ian Evatt still favourite but drifting from 4/5 to 6/4.

Could Hurst be the man to keep the Rochdale in League One?

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