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Rochdale 3 v 3 Crewe Alexandra
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 9th January 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Match Preview: Blackpool vs Rochdale
Thursday, 24th Dec 2020 10:02 by AtThePeake

Dale fans will be hoping for some Christmas cheer as their side make the relatively short trip to Blackpool on Boxing Day.

Date: Saturday 26th December 2020
Kick-off: 3:00pm
Venue: Bloomfield Road
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THE DALE:
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Absolutely freezing the proverbials off walking down the promenade, supping some watered-down lager in plastic cups in some of the Fylde Coast's classiest establishments and trudging down to Bloomfield Road to watch, more than likely, another defeat on one of the coldest days of the year?

God I miss live football.

This feels like one of those games that would really have excited supporters had we been able to attend, despite Dale's 'patchy' League One form of late, but instead we'll be tuning in to iFollow in the warmth of our own homes behind turkey (and meat-free alternative!) sandwiches on Boxing Day this year.

For the squad, no such home comforts will be afforded as they make the trip to Bloomfield Road looking to produce the kind of performance that has recently seen them pick up eye-catching victories at Plymouth Argyle (0-4) and Wigan Athletic (0-5).

However, wedged between those two remarkable wins were the kind of showings Dale fans have unfortunately been more accustomed to, with a 0-2 home defeat to Lincoln City and a 4-1 away hammering at the hands of Peterborough United.

Perhaps more worrying however is the fact Brian Barry-Murphy's side were unable to build on the win at the DW Stadium as they returned home last weekend, crashing to a humiliating 1-4 home defeat at the hands of Steve Evans' mid-table Gillingham outfit.

It seems that Dale's fortunes at the moment hinge on being able to carve out a goal in the opening stages of a match. An early goal, in the mould of Jake Beesley's in Plymouth and Kwadwo Baah's in Wigan, can force the opposition into opening gaps in their defence as they go in search of an equaliser - gaps that the likes of Alex Newby and Stephen Dooley seem more than capable of operating in.

However, goals going in at the other end seem to knock our confidence and particularly against the more organised defensive opponents, it seems that games can quickly get away from us through a combination of individual mistakes and a lack of tactical flexibility from the manager when things aren't going our way.

Still, Dale continue to concede goals from set-pieces - something that was pointed out by BBM after the defeat to the Gills last weekend and still Dale continue to concede goals in quick succession - they've now conceded twice within a 12 minute period on six occasions so far this season.

Perhaps the return of Gavin Bazunu would improve Dale's organisation at set-pieces and the manager hinted that he could be returning soon in his extended interview with the club's official website on Wednesday afternoon.

The Irishman also confirmed that Jake Beesley is now available following his lay-off due to the concussion protocols and Matt Lund will also return to the squad having served his suspension, while Ryan McLaughlin and Ollie Rathbone are also said to be making good progress with their injuries, the former being an ex-Blackpool player.

Given that in the few minutes we have seen them play together, Beesley and Stephen Humphrys appear to have a good understanding, the return of the ex-Salford striker is certainly encouraging. Dale however, will need more than an in-sync forward duo if they're to take anything from this tough trip to the seaside on Boxing Day.

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THE OPPOSITION:
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Few clubs' supporters have had it harder than Blackpool in recent years. After reaching the dizzying heights of the Premier League under Ian Holloway, the club has lurched back down into the lower reaches of the EFL under the stewardship of vastly unpopular owner Karl Oyston.

With supporters understandably boycotting matches at Bloomfield Road, the club were in a state of flux for some time until last year, when 'local lad done good' Simon Sadler purchased a 96% controlling stake in the club, forcing Oyston out after 32 years at the helm.

Fans has returned to the club in their droves, or had until the Coronavirus pandemic put paid to attending live football fixtures for the foreseeable future and with Sadler's investment, there has been cautious but tangible optimism for the future of this historic club.

With highly-rated head coach Neil Critchley in the dugout, the Tangerines have gone about assembling a very competitive squad at this level and a large turnaround of players in the summer signalled their intentions following a comfortable but unexciting 13th placed finish last season.

No fewer than 13 new players arrived during the summer window, including ex-Dale target CJ Hamilton and former Rotherham striker Jerry Yates, both of who commanded transfer fees from their former clubs.

Highly-rated midfielder Ethan Robson was another arrival alongside ex-Everton man Luke Garbutt, as well as a man very familiar to Dale fans in MJ Williams, who left Spotland in the summer having made 68 appearances in League One (including 12 during his original loan spell from Liverpool).

Thus far, it hasn't quite turned into the play-off tilt that Seasiders' fans will have been hoping for with the team sitting in 12th place after 18 games played. However, having shown glimpses of their capabilities in recent weeks, it would be churlish to suggest that the race is in any way over for this Blackpool side.

Having lost only one of their last nine league games, Blackpool have also kept clean sheets in four of their last five and impressively they have managed home wins over automatic promotion hopefuls Portsmouth and Hull City during that run.

The season is now finally starting to click into gear at Bloomfield Road and Dale will need to be at their absolute best in order to bust some coupons in picking any points up in this Boxing Day trip to the seaside.
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FORM BOOK - LAST 5 GAMES:
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Blackpool
Accrington Stanley (a) - DRAW
Hull City (h) - WIN
Oxford United (h) - DRAW
Fleetwood Town (a) - DRAW (lost on pens)
Fleetwood Town (a) - WIN

Rochdale:
Gillingham (h) - LOSS
Wigan Athletic (a) - WIN
Peterborough United (a) - LOSS
Lincoln City (h) - LOSS
Plymouth Argyle (a) - WIN
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HEAD TO HEAD:
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BLACKPOOL - 8
DRAW - 9
ROCHDALE - 11

26 Sep 2017 - Blackpool 0-0 Rochdale - League One
01 Jan 2018 - Rochdale 1-2 Blackpool - League One
06 Oct 2018 - Blackpool 2-2 Rochdale - League One
26 Dec 2018 - Rochdale 2-1 Blackpool - League One
24 Aug 2019 - Rochdale 0-0 Blackpool - League One

Photo: Action Images



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