Town Visit Rochdale Aiming to Build on Good Friday Win
Sunday, 4th Apr 2021 16:25
Town visit bottom-of-the-table Rochdale on Easter Monday looking to build on Good Friday’s 2-1 home win against Bristol Rovers.
That victory moved the Blues up to ninth in the League One table, two points off the play-offs but with sixth-placed Blackpool having played one match fewer.
Manager Paul Cook will be looking to win back-to-back games with the Blues for the first time and will probably give the 3-5-2 system he moved his team to on Friday another go against Dale.
That would see keeper Tomas Holy start in goal with the back three, from the right, Luke Woolfenden, Toto Nsiala and skipper Luke Chambers, with Gwion Edwards and Stephen Ward likely to be the wing-backs.
Andre Dozzell and Teddy Bishop will probably continue in the centre of midfield, although Cole Skuse is another option, with Alan Judge ahead of them.
Up front, James Norwood seems certain to miss out having come off at half-time on Friday with a thigh problem and Cook will have to decide who will partner Kayden Jackson with either Troy Parrott or Aaron Drinan his replacement.
Cook said on Saturday one or two players are getting close to making their returns following minor knocks.
“We’re doing alright,” he said. “Benno [Keanan Bennetts] and [Oli] Hawkins have played 45 minutes [in a friendly] at Norwich, Flynn Downes and Myles Kenlock are on the grass.
“A little bit of bad news [with Norwood], but fingers crossed, we might have some good as well. Flynn, I wouldn’t say the next few weeks, I’d say sooner than that. But I won’t rush people back.”
In addition, skipper Luke Chambers said right-back Kane Vincent-Young isn’t going to be out for too long with the hamstring injury he suffered at Wigan. Hawkins and Bennetts could be among the subs.
Rochdale go into the match having won just once in their last 12, a 2-1 victory away against Lincoln in the middle of last month.
At home, they have won just once this season, a 2-1 success against Fleetwood at the start of October. That’s a run of 16 league games at Spotland without a win, although they drew 3-3 at home with second-placed Peterborough in their last home match. They have picked up only 11 of their 32 points at Spotland.
On Good Friday, Rochdale were beaten 2-1 by Portsmouth at Fratton Park.
At Portman Road in September, second-half goals from Bishop and Edwards saw Town to a 2-0 victory over Dale, their third successive win by the same scoreline, as they maintained their position at the top of the League One table.
Both teams had had chances in the first half with full league debutant Hawkins going close on three occasions but it took until the 53rd minute for Bishop to open the scoring with Edwards sealing the three points six minutes later.
Last season’s Bonfire Night game at Spotland is the only other time the teams have met in competitive action with the Portman Road fixture among those which was due to take place after the 2019/20 campaign was curtailed in March last year.
Danny Rowe’s first and ultimately only Town goal was enough to see the Blues to a 1-0 win. The winger reacted quickly to turn a defensive error past home keeper Jay Lynch in the 53rd minute.
Blues right-back Luke Matheson, who is on loan from Wolves, was playing in that game having come through the ranks at Rochdale. He made 29 starts and seven sub appearances for Dale, most prior to moving to Molineux for £1 million in January 2020 and five starts having returned on loan.
Monday’s referee is Christopher Sarginson from Staffordshire, who has shown 75 yellow cards and three red in 29 games so far this season.
Sarginson’s last Town match was the 4-1 win at Blackpool in October in which he booked Dozzell and Myles Kenlock.
Coincidentally, he was also in charge of February last year’s 2-1 defeat at Bloomfield Road, in which he cautioned Flynn Downes and three home players. Town felt they were denied a very strong claim for a penalty when Sears was fouled in the first half.
He also refereed the 2-1 home defeat to Coventry in December last year’s FA Cup replay at Portman Road in which he kept his cards in his pocket throughout.
Prior to that he was in charge of the 1-0 win at Gillingham in September 2019 in which he booked Wilson and Judge as well as one home player.
His only Blues fixture before that was the 2-0 home victory over Brighton in September 2014 in which he booked Skuse, Jonny Parr, Paul Anderson and three of the visitors.
Squad from: Holy, Cornell, Chambers (c), Ward, Nsiala, Woolfenden, McGuinness, Dozzell, Skuse, Judge, Harrop, Bishop, Edwards, Lankester, Bennetts, Sears, Norwood, Jackson, Parrott, Hawkins, Drinan.
Photo: Matchday Images
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