By Jake Adkin
Keith Hill’s struggling Rochdale side are looking to end their five game rut without a win as they travel to inconsistent Bristol Rover’s Memorial Stadium.
Rochdale haven’t won since their convincing 3-0 triumph at home to Gillingham nearly a month ago and find themselves in 20th, just a point above bitter rivals Bury in the drop zone, with the latter having a game in hand.
Darrell Clarke’s Rovers have struggled to find a run of form in recent weeks, with their surprise 6-0 hammering of Northampton being overshadowed by subpar performances against Oxford and high-flying Shrewsbury, both ending in defeats.
Last season both sides were in the top half of the table, and it showed in their play in a hotly contested affair that ended in a well-earned 0-0 stalemate. Now, both sides will be eager to get the three points that will hopefully kick-start a good run of form that both teams desperately need if they are to get to where they were last season.
The two managers do have a degree of history with one another, with Keith Hill signing Darrell Clarke on loan early in his first spell as manager of Rochdale, where he made 12 appearances. Hill spoke highly of his managerial counterpart: “I think he has done a marvellous job as a manager. He has been absolutely magnificent in achieving two promotions and gaining stability in League One with Bristol Rovers, and I think he’ll continue to do a great job because he puts his all into everything that he does and he does it with enthusiasm. I loved him to bits for that.”
A win for The Gas can see them climb back up to as high as 9th while a win for The Dale will give the side a bit of breathing room ahead of Bury on the wrong side of the drop-zone.