Match Preview: Rochdale vs Scunthorpe United

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The Iron head to Rochdale for their first away match of the season this weekend.

Graham Alexander will be hoping his side can get their first three points of the campaign on the board, following their 1-1 draw with AFC Wimbledon last week. Rochdale are also looking to claim their first win of the season after they lost 2-0 at Portsmouth on the opening day.

The Scunthorpe boss has had a couple of injury worries ahead of the clash at Dale on Saturday.

Neal Bishop missed out on Tuesday against Notts County after suffering a dead leg against AFC Wimbledon, and Josh Morris was forced off in midweek with what looked like a potentially nasty injury. However, both players were expected back in training on Friday morning and Alexander is hoping they will be in contention. Murray Wallace also picked up a knock against County – but an x-ray showed no damage and he should be fine heading into the game.

Luke Williams will once again miss out, as this match comes just a bit too early for him. The Iron manager is hoping to arrange a reserve match for the attacking midfielder to play in next week. Lewis Butroid has trained this week and is back in contention, although it is unlikely the youngster will feature.

Tom Hopper remains in the frame after he rejected a move to Mansfield this week.

The big question is, what formation will Alexander opt for ahead of the clash at Spotland?

Against AFC Wimbledon and in the first-half of the Notts County game, the new formation of three centre-halfs simply did not work. The team looked uncomfortable and out of shape, and lacked any real creativity. This could just be teething problems, of course, but the fact of the matter is, in the second-half against the Magpies, playing 4-4-2, the Iron were miles better.

Alexander is expected to alter his starting formation to a 4-4-2 – but don’t be shocked to see him stick by the three centre-backs set up.

If 4-4-2 is the way the Iron choose to go, then Charlie Goode would be expected to drop out of defence, with Clarke and Townsend playing in the full-back roles and Wallace and McArdle at centre-half. In midfield, Funso Ojo will almost certainly be on the team sheet, with Neal Bishop likely coming back in to partner the Belgian, should he be fit. After Josh Morris’ injury worries in midweek, and Duane Holmes’ excellent contribution off the bench, the latter may come in to replace Morris from the off. Hakeeb Adelakun is the man that will probably take the place of Charlie Goode, following his lively performance against the Dons. Paddy Madden will be hoping to build upon his two goals in the Carabao Cup, and he should be partnered up front by Kevin van Veen.

Rochdale Team News

Dale come into the fixture on the back of a 1-0 win at League Two title favourites Mansfield in the Carabao Cup after putting the disappointment of their 2-0 loss at Portsmouth behind them.

Keith Hill’s men finished in 9th place in League One last season, and they lost just two of their final twelve matches – one of those defeats came against the Iron back in March.

There hasn’t been a massive influx of players at Dale this summer, with six players signing for the club, as they look to once again be competitive in the league.

There are a few ex Scunthorpe players in the Rochdale ranks, who will be hoping to feature against their former team.

Iron youth product Josh Lillis is likely to start in goal. In his eight years with the Iron, Lillis only made 39 appearances for the club as he often found himself as backup. The keeper has carved out a good career for himself with Dale, though, as he has now made 212 appearances for the club.

Centre-half Niall Canavan is another man to have progressed through the youth ranks at Scunthorpe. Despite being regarded as a promising youngster, the former Republic of Ireland U21 International never really lived up to expectation.

Jim McNulty had a loan spell with United back in 2010, in which he made 14 appearances for the club. In his time at Scunthorpe he predominantly played at left-back, but he now operates in the heart of the Rochdale defence.

Joe Thompson will continue to miss out for Dale as he is still building up his fitness after announcing that he has fought off cancer for the second time. Hopefully we will see him out on the field before long.

Other than that, Keith Hill has a full squad to choose from.

The Rochdale manger has said that he would like to keep changes to a minimum after their midweek win at Mansfield. Keith Keane is likely to come back into the side and replace Niall Canavan, though, after Keane was sent off at Portsmouth last week.

The danger man for me is Ian Henderson. The Rochdale captain has been the club’s top scorer for each of the past four seasons and he is a real threat in and around the box. The former England youth player has scored three times against the Iron in his career so far.

Previous Matches

Scunthorpe have a patchy recent record against Rochdale, having won just two of the last six encounters between the sides.

In the 2014-15 season, the Iron beat Dale 2-1 at home on boxing day, before losing 3-1 away at Spotland a few months later. In the next campaign, Scunthorpe were again defeated at Rochdale, but drew their home match 1-1. In December of last year, the Iron headed to Dale full of confidence as they sat top of the table. Unfortunately, the Iron found themselves 3-0 down before then clawing back two consolation goals. United did however beat Rochdale at home in March, as Matt Crooks’ crucial late winner secured the Iron’s first win in nine matches.

Scunthorpe head into this weekend’s fixture hoping to put recent results at Spotland behind them and claim their first three points of the season.

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Written by James Murray

Aspiring journalist and Scunthorpe United fan studying at the London South Bank University.

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