Rochdale meeting the opposition.
Tranmere last met Rochdale in September, when they were enduring a mixed start under the second managerial coming of Micky Mellon. The Whites would end up losing that day, 1-0, in a frustrating manner. However, Rovers have since picked up form and thus go into the game against The Dale in much higher spirits this time ‘round.
I spoke to Rochdale supporter ‘@RochdaleFan’ who gave me their thoughts on the visitors start to the season before telling me about their danger men and giving his opinion on how he sees the upcoming encounter panning out.
What were your expectations going into the season and what are they now as we enter the second half of the campaign?
We came into the season, not knowing what to expect if I’m being honest. After relegation and all the things that happened in the summer (Fighting hostile takeovers, New manager coming in with a couple of weeks to go until the season started), most Dale fans would have accepted a season of just stabilisation and building the foundations for a promotion push next season.
Heading into the second half of the season, the optimistic side of me think we have the quality in the squad to push for a play-offs place, but on the other hand would happily take a mid table finish.
What are your thoughts on those in charge at The Dale? Robbie Stockdale was appointed manager in the summer and the club’s owners are …?
Robbie Stockdale, I have nothing but good words to say about him. First management role for him, with very little time to get a squad together and he’s passing it with flying colours. He just understands what the club is about.
I’m proud to say that Rochdale are quite unique as a club in the way that the fans own the majority of the club. Other shareholders are our chairman Simon Gauge. Simon and the rest of the board have faced challenges (fighting of multiple hostile takeovers) that most owners would have cracked under. Like Robbie they just get what the club is about. And unlike our previous board members (E.g., David Bottomley), you know that the decisions they are making are within the best interest of the club.
Who would you say are the visitors danger men? Furthermore, who do you see as the stand out hosting players?
We lost our two most influential players in Jake Beesley and Corey O’Keeffe. One to watch out for from us is Alex Newby. Play usually in the RF role, links the play up between midfield and attack well. Also has that little bit of magic to get past an defender or to unlock them with a pass.
A quite noticeable danger man is one of your recent signings – Kane Hemmings. Great signing for League 2 level. Has a decent scoring record, wherever he’s been. Also, Jay Spearing is another player that stands out to me. He is the exact player Rochdale are dying out for in our midfield – Tough tackling experienced midfielder.
The last time the two sides met was in mid September, Rochdale were the hosts and won 1-0 via a late Danny Cashman strike. How would you describe the course of that particular ninety minutes?
At times I thought it was just going to be one of those games that we would create loads of chances but will be left frustrated. I thought Dale was quite dominant over the 90 minutes and didn’t think Tranmere offered too much attacking wise.
How do you see the upcoming fixture panning out (score prediction etc)? Also, why do you think this meeting will pose different questions than the previous encounter (if you do)?
After 28 days without a game, I don’t think Dale could have found much harder opponents to have as a first game back at the moment. Tranmere are in a decent run of form and are looking serious promotion contenders. But, our record against the top 7 has been fantastic this season. Think it will be a close game and the points will be shared in a 1-1 draw.
What starting eleven do you think Stockdale will select and how would you describe the playing style he’s implemented on his team?
Hard to predict this, as it’s uncertain as to whether we still have some covid cases in the squad or not. But on the basis we have a fully fit squad (apart from Keohane who is out injured), I think Stockdale will select:
GK – Joel Coleman
CB – Eoghan O’Connell
CB – Paul Downing
CB – Jeriel Dorsett
RWB – Stephen Dooley
CM – Liam Kelly
CM – George Broadbent
LWB – Aidy White
RF – Alex Newby
ST – Josh Andrews
LF – Conor Grant
Thinking of previous encounters between Tranmere and Rochdale, what games/moments stand out as being memorable for you and have you ever been to Prenton Park?
Tranmere away is actually one of those days that I have looked forward to in most recent years. One game in particular that has stood out to me is the game when we beat you 3-2 in the first game of the 2019/20 season.
As we’re now midway into the January transfer window, who would you like The Dale to sign and would you say there are any particular positions that need to be strengthened?
We have lost two key players – Jake Beesley and Aaron Morley so far. So they will need replacing. We saw our first signing yesterday (Paul Downing) and according to Robbie Stockdale there should be more signings getting completed today. Positions that I would like to see get strengthened are RWB (Hopefully Corey O’Keeffe signing on a permanent), tough tackling DM, a ST (Been linked with Darlington’s Luke Charman).