Tag Archives: league 1

Rally Cry: Hill Needs the Fans Support in Crucial Time

There was yet more heartbreak in Rochdale fans season on Tuesday night, in their rearranged league game against Wimbledon.

Rochdale started well with Rekeil Pyke putting them in front two minutes in, Joe Pigott fired Wimbledon back in it in the 36th minute.

Rochdale determinedly took little time re-establishing their dominance, with Ethan Hamilton turning away from his man and firing smartly into the bottom corner. This wasn’t to last though as Pigott bagged his second of the match almost instantly in the first minute of the second half. Then Wimbledon took the lead for the first time in the match when in the 76th minute, Anthony Wordsworth gave them the lead.

Rochdale’s Captain, Ian Henderson followed up Matty Done’s driven effort in the 81st minute. The game was becoming a classic for a neutral, but the point escaped Rochdales grasp as the visitors dispatched a contentious penalty in the last minute of added time to win 4-3.

This result has seen Dale drop to 5th bottom of the table and worryingly, with only 13 league games left Rochdale have to improve on only 4 home wins so far this season to have any hope of league one survival.

And with; Wycombe, Southend, Accrington, Scunthorpe, Plymouth, Gillingham, Bristol Rovers, Shrewsbury and Oxford still to play and with them all in the bottom half of the table, their destiny is still in their hands.

Now more than ever, the fans support is crucial. There is a growing contingency of the fan base that believes Kieth Hill should already have been sacked and replaced. They are entitled to their opinion, but for the good of the team, no matter what, Rochdale needs the fans to support in an effort to turn this dire run of form around.


Tribute: Joe Thompson’s Footballing Career

Joe Thompson, who this week announced his retirement at the age of 29, made his first-team debut for Rochdale on the 2nd of May 2006 against Carlisle United. The following season saw him go onto make 13 appearances, collecting the League Two Apprentice award. This earned him his first professional contract which he signed on the 5th July 2007.

It was, however, the 08/09 season which proved to be his most successful to date featuring numerous times throughout the season, and scoring crucial goals against Aldershot and Chester scoring 5 in all which helped Rochdale make the playoff semifinals that season albeit in a losing effort to Gillingham. He only improved from there making 39 appearances and scoring 8 times the following season. He was described as “most improved member of the squad displaying great maturity in his performances, offering defensive cover and an outlet going forward.” See here.

He featured less during 10/11 and 11/12 season making only 33 appearances, scoring 3 times in the former and 20 appearances and 1 goal in the latter. His form caught others attention as despite being offered a new contract at the end of the season, he departed for Tranmere for an undisclosed fee, despite spending most of the preseason at Rochdale. He described his logic behind the move as “It was good for me to get out of it and learn a bit more about myself”.

He continued to play fairly regularly for Tranmere despite a brief loan spell back at Rochdale in 2013 making 7 appearances. Until the moment that was to change not only his career but his entire life when he was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. He spent the entire 13/14 season battling bravely against the rare form of cancer. Tranmere subsequently didn’t offer him a new contract and he was released by the club, something Joe felt was handled badly See here.

Bury, under the management of David Flitcroft who worked with him at Rochdale previously, offered him a pay as you play deal and after spending most of his time on the bench or out on loan due to a lack of match fitness the deal was not extended at the end of the season and he was released. After an unsuccessful trial with St. Johnstone, Carlisle offered him a 6-month contract but once again he was released at the end of the season.

After his successful recovery from cancer and spending a couple of seasons making limited progress in 2016, Rochdale came calling for the third time. Originally signing a 6-month deal. However, in 2017 tragedy struck a second time as he was diagnosed with cancer for a second time. Rochdale stood by him and he successful beat it once again with Joe himself saying at the time “I came back from a goal down before, not only to equalise but to take the lead. This illness may have found an equaliser, but the quest for me to get the winner starts today and I can assure you I will get the most important win of all time.” He made his return in December of that year after nearly 9 months away. That season Rochdale were embroiled in a battle of their own to avoid relegation and, managed to take it all the way down to the wire with a final day showdown with Charlton on the 5th May.

Rochdale needed to better Oldham’s result to stay up ahead of them and at 0-0 in the 65th minute, they needed a hero. Cue Joe Thompson the man who had battled back from Cancer not only once, but twice. He was introduced into the game as a 67th-minute substitute knowing that realistically only a win would do.

The fairytale script you couldn’t have written was about to unfold. His impact was almost instantaneous as in the 69th minute he got on the ball just inside the box and fired in a low shot which beat all the Charlton players in the box including the goalkeeper, and nestled perfectly into the back of the net. Rochdale had a fighting chance, the same fighting chance Joe had had all along in his battles with Cancer. Rochdale held on and after a nervous wait to confirm Oldham had only managed to draw with Northampton, Joe had written himself into Rochdale folklore.

It was an incredible moment that everyone in Spotland that day will never forget. Joe reluctantly announced his retirement earlier this week after failing to recover from a hamstring tear. I, for one, thank him for the memories and wish him all the best for the future and most importantly good health.

What Can a Fit Zach Clough Do For Rochdale?

Rochdale finally announced the return of Zach Clough on loan for the rest of the season late on deadline day. Fans had been eagerly anticipating news on the player since it was announced that the club were trying to resign him for the season back at the fans forum on the 14th January. He struggled for game time during his first spell earlier this season, only making 9 appearances. This wasn’t helped by the fact he spent the most part of it on the treatment table, a total of 8 weeks out injured.

He says himself he’s now fully fit and raring to go See here. If he can manage to find some form and consistency at Rochdale, he could become a real key player for them in the second half of the season. His 9 goals in 22 games at Bolton during their league one campaign in the 16/17 proves this.

I think Zach could come in and play on the right of an attacking three, or centrally if Ian Henderson drops off or moves to the left. I feel these roles best suit him due to his dribbling ability and the fact he likes to cut in inside.

I would expect him to at least have a place on the bench when Rochdale take on Coventry at Spotland on Saturday. Whether he is in the starting XI depends on the tactical setup Keith Hill goes with, whether he goes for a similar strategy as he did against Walsall of having Calvin Andrew start as a target man like presence, or he opts for a more pacey and skilful front line which Clough would fit nicely into. So whatever formation Hilly decides on, Zach is a quality addition to the squad. Which only serves to increase Dale’s options in their fight to push up the table following last Saturdays very welcome 3 points.

What Can Keith Hill’s Winter Signings Bring To Rochdale?

Rochdale have had a busy transfer window with Joe Rafferty, Andy Cannon, David Perkins, Harrison McGahey and Brendan Moore departing the club permanently. Sam Hart, Magnus Norman & Connor Randall also returned to their parent clubs from loans.

In their place in have come; Ryan Mclaughlin permanently from Blackpool, Rory Holden from Bristol City, Ethan Ebanks-Landell from Wolves, Ethan Hamilton from Man Utd, Rekeil Pyke from Huddersfield and most recently Joe Bunney from Northampton all on loan. With such a massive overhaul mid-season, there is the risk of it having a detrimental effect on the team.

However, with how results have gone in the first half of the season Rochdale now knows that they find themselves in a relegation battle again, with arguably a much stronger squad than they had last season. It is difficult to try and understand why but over this article I will assess each of the new signings individually, and try to outline what they could bring to Rochdale as they attempt to battle bravely against relegation again.

Rory Holden

Rory signed on loan from Bristol City on the 3rd of January and has so far made 5 appearances, starting 4 games mostly from the right of midfield. I have had the pleasure of watching 2 of the matches he was involved in and he looks to have good quick feet and isn’t afraid to take a man on. Something Rochdale have in short supply.

Ethan Hamilton

Ethan joined Rochdale on loan from Manchester United on the 11th of January. He has started all 3 games for Rochdale since he signed playing in the centre of midfield. He scored against Peterborough in a 2-1 loss earlier this month. Another player I have seen play and he looks like he has a decent level of technical ability, I expect him to be a great addition if he can continue how he started.

Ethan Ebanks-Landell

The second Ethan to sign for Dale on the 11th January, joining from Wolves. He also has started every game since his arrival. Playing centre back. I think he is an excellent signing and a real solid centre back, let us just hope he can raise the game of the other defenders around him.

Ryan McLaughlin

Ryan arrived from Blackpool on the 23rd of January as a direct replacement for the departing Joe Rafferty on the same day. He made his debut at the weekend against Barnsley as a right back in a losing effort. I haven’t seen him play yet myself but, can see he looks to be a like for like replacement for Rafferty with both players coming through Liverpool’s academy

Rekeil Pyke

The newest arrival for Rochdale who signed just yesterday on loan from Huddersfield for the rest of the season and is expected to play up front. Huddersfield cut short his loan spell at Wrexham where in 14 starts and 12 sub appearances he scored 5 goals this season. Wrexham averaged 1.78 points per game he started and he has been described as “a good size, a threat aerially but having a poor work ethic.

Having known nothing about Pyke I’m reserving judgement and will give him my full support, I expect him to be a striker option to play off Henderson, and hopefully offer him support and inject a little pace into Rochdale’s attack.

Joe Bunney

Joe made a deadline day return to Dale on loan after Northampton cut short his loan at Blackpool after leaving 12 months ago in the January transfer window last season. He looks like the left back Keith Hill has been after all window and is very familiar with the club, the fans and what the manager will want. With it not been long since his departure he should slot back into the team with relative ease and, should bring another useful option in that left back position.

Is Nile Ranger The Key to Turning Around Rochdale’s Season?

Alan Nixon for The Sun has reported that Rochdale took ‘Football Bad Boy Nile Ranger’ on a secret trial last week, with Keith Hill hoping he will sign in an effort to bolster Rochdale’s attacking options. They have been heavily over-reliant on talisman Ian Henderson this season playing his part in 20 of their 36 (15 Goals & 5 Assists) scored in the league, which shows he is directly involved in over half their goals scored.

Nile Ranger has had a troubled past which has badly affected his football career, after making his debut back in 2009 for Newcastle. Even before that though he nearly never had a career to begin with, whilst playing for Southampton as a youth player, he was sentenced to 11 weeks in a young offenders institute for his part in an armed street robbery. He did return to Southampton after completing his sentence but they released him shortly after with a bad reputation.

After his release, Swindon offered him a contract but it was then Newcastle Director of Football Dennis Wise that brought him to St James Park in 2008. He impressed that much in reserve and academy games that he was offered a 3 and a half year contract and made his first-team debut in August 2009. After impressing that season he then signed a 5 and a half year contract in December 2010 a move that proved to be a very poor bit of business by Newcastle. In January 2013 after criticising Newcastle fans on Twitter for booing the team after a recent 2-1 loss to Reading, he left by Mutual consent in March, 3 years earlier than his contract ran to.

Swindon got their man in August 2013 with Ranger signing a 1-year contract despite battling an ongoing rape case. It all started to unravel again in November after a successful start to the season. As he failed to report to the club for training after being given a period of leave, he did, however, manage to last till May after again his contract was mutually terminated.

Blackpool was his next destination signing in August 2014 before going AWOL in December, claiming he had family issues and returned to London, in January Blackpool began to fine him for every day he was absent. In May 2015 after being relegated, Blackpool released 17 players but decided to take up an option to extend Rangers contract by another year. He didn’t return to the club til July missing Blackpool’s first 4 friendlies, he did issue an apology but left the club in February 2016.

Southend were next to gamble on Ranger, announcing his signing in August 2016 he started well and signed a new contract in December taking him up until 2020. However the problems began again as he started the 17/18 season in prison for online banking fraud. Southend stood by him and when he was released from Prison he was originally placed in a 7pm Curfew tag meaning he couldn’t play any evening games, in September the tag was removed and he scored in a 4-2 away win against Fleetwood. Once again it wouldn’t last though as eventually in January 2018 his contract was terminated with Southend for perhaps his daftest reason to date as it was terminated largely due to being consistently late for team meetings and games.

As you can see his career has been plagued by inconsistencies and disciplinary issues, and I have previously been very critical of him so it would be very hypocritical of me to suggest I believe he is the right man for Rochdale. It looks like Keith Hill is trying to fix another players career which is on the downturn as he has done with many players previously, but I believe this would be his biggest challenge to date, although I understand it’s a roll of the dice for a team desperately short on firepower. I personally believe its a gamble not worth taking on a player who has had several chances previously.

One in, One out at Spotland. Have Rochdale got the better deal?

Further changes have been made this window for Rochdale with long term servant Joe Rafferty departing to Preston, and incoming Ryan McLaughlin from Blackpool to replace him.

Joe was a popular member of the team having made over 200 appearances in 7 years at the club, and was an ever-dependable figure down the right-hand side. He made 33 appearances in all competitions for Dale this season, with his last coming in the 1-1 draw with Fleetwood on Saturday.

The general consensus of the fans is that he hasn’t been at the peak of his form for the past two seasons, which has coincided with 2 of the worst seasons in recent memory for Dale. However, he was always a reliable option making marauding runs down the right-hand side and a regular outlet for the goalkeeper to distribute to, to start attacks. He was solid if not spectacular and was one of my personal favourites in the team, but he deserves his chance at a higher level and he leaves with all my thanks and praise leaving some big boots to fill for his replacement.

What is unusual for Dale fans about his replacement is they actually paid a fee for his services which is few and far between with Dale signings. This shows the faith Keith Hill must have in McLaughlin and I trust Keith’s judgement of talent completely if he is anything like Rafferty, then I will be very content.

Ryan McLaughlin emerged through Liverpool’s academy playing alongside current Rochdale player MJ Williams. He comes here with low expectations but hopefully, performances start to come pretty soon for him with Rochdale struggling at the lower ends of the table again. Perhaps not the ideal time for what is seeming like a complete squad restructuring but Rochdale fans are well versed in losing their best players for low fees, more often than not in mid-season.

Only time will tell whether Rochdale have done good business. I will give Ryan plenty of time to adapt and settle before making my decision on him. Whenever a player has been at a club for as long as Joe Rafferty has, it’s often seen as difficult to replace him and without knowing the financial details involved in the deals it’s hard to say.

Rochdale’s Back Line Should Look Like This To Stop Fleetwood & Gain 3 Important Points

Rochdale are without a League One win since Boxing Day, in that time they have played 4 league games, conceded 15 goals and scored only once. Tomorrow represents a big opportunity at Spotland to stop the rot against an indifferent Fleetwood side, who themselves haven’t won since Boxing Day.

In this article, I will assess Rochdale’s options at the back, and highlight what would be my chosen defence to try and come away with the 3 points.

Goalkeeper: Josh Lillis/Magnus Norman/Brad Wade

One of Dales biggest problems this season with regular goalkeeping mistakes and rotation but for me out of the options available there is only one option and that is Josh Lillis. I feel he is comfortably number 1, as a backup Magnus Norman has struggled when given the jersey and shown very little to suggest he is a better option between the sticks.

Right Back: Joe Rafferty/Luke Matheson

Again a fairly obvious choice for me with Joe Rafferty, although Luke has been impressive in his cameos – I don’t feel at this stage of his development he is ready to jump into a first team spot in a league match. Joe has also been one of Rochdale’s better players at times this season, and for the style of play, Keith Hill likes, he is a must down that right-hand side.

Centre Backs: Jimmy McNulty/Ryan Delaney/Ethan Ebanks-Landell/MJ Williams

Going with 2 centre backs here my first choice has to be the new loan signing Ethan Ebanks-Landell, he made his debut as a second-half sub against Peterborough last weekend and I feel he has to start against Fleetwood with the experience and quality he has. He could be a real asset in the second half of this season with his pace and power.

My second choice centre back to partner Ethan would be MJ Williams who although isn’t a natural centre back, has found himself playing there regularly this season. I just feel although his defensive instincts aren’t as sharp, he brings a level of composure and a range of passing which is important when playing out from the back as Dale try to do.

Left Backs: Matty Done/Kgosietsile Ntlhe

Left-back has been a problem position for Rochdale this season with rumours that its a position Hilly is looking to strengthen. So far this window Rochdale have been linked with several fullbacks, the latest being Colin Daniel from Peterborough. But for the Fleetwood match I would be struggling to choose who to start with Matty Done the most senior player in that position this season after Sam Harts departure, however, I feel Done’s strengths are better utilised further forward which leaves me with Ntlhe who hasn’t covered himself in glory when given the chance, but I think he would be the man for me against Fleetwood.

This is the defence I would play if I was Keith Hill, but I will be eagerly awaiting the team sheet at around 2pm to see what he has gone with.

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