Tim Stoodley previews Saturday's clash with Rochdale at the ABAX Stadium.
Peterborough United look to re-board the promotion train as they face fellow promotion-chasing Rochdale at The ABAX Stadium this Saturday at 3pm, in a Sky Bet League One fixture.
The Dale sit just one place and one point above Posh, but are on a poor run of form. Rochdale are without a win in their last seven outings and their promotion run has taken a stuttering turn. They had two back-to-back 0-4 home defeats, beaten only by a smattering of draws against lower-placed opposition, so, much like Posh, they'll be desperate to reignite some form capable of snatching a play-off place as the table begins it's 'run in'.
Dale play a 4-3-3, regardless of their opposition and like to utilise a wide style of play. Until recently it proved to be an effective tactic and gaffer Keith Hill has stuck with it despite their drop in form. They're a team with a fruitful mix of youth and experience and seemed to be onto a winning formula prior to the turn of the year and their worrying downturn in form.
One such experienced player is forward-midfielder Ian Henderson, who is having a fantastic season at The Crown Oil Arena. He's both top-scorer and top-assist maker and sits as one of the wide players up top. He's quite adept to taking the ball out wide and delivering a killer cross, or cutting inside and unleashing a powerful and accurate shot. It's a useful talent to have and he's been the driving force in their promotion run this season. He scored a penalty when Posh overturned Dale 2-3 on the opening day of the season back in August and is a useful set-piece playmaker.
Leading the line in the centre of the attacking trio is recognised number nine Calvin Andrew. The 30 year-old Crystal Palace favourite is in his third year at Rochdale and is an exciting watch. He's strong, pacey, can hold up the ball well and can happily play in behind, or go past people. He's left-footed, with a good touch and awareness and his experience is helping the younger squad members to flourish this season. He's also a unit and is useful in the air at 6ft 2". He's the clubs second top-scorer with seven goals in twenty-five appearance this term.
At the back and Irishman Joe Rafferty is the mainstay of the Dale backline. He's still enjoying a fledging career but has been at Dale, and only Dale, for the entirety of that career. He's a fans favourite and has featured more than any other player this season. Until recently Dale had a good defensive record and this is, in part, down to Rafferty's control of the back-line. He's a right-back and because of the 4-3-3 formation that they favour, he is given licence to roam and find space down his flank. Expect him to try and do just that this weekend.
Former-Poshie Nathaniel Mendez-Laing will be on show this weekend. He is seen as Dale's 'super-sub' and often comes on with ten minutes to go to find a goal, which he managed just last week, scoring a late goal in the 3-3 draw with Charlton. He was released by Peterborough in 2015 and has been in Greater Manchester ever since.
Manager Keith Hill is a favourite at The Crown Oil Arena and is in his second spell as manager. He's achieved promotion from League Two in both spells and is held as a club legend, not only because of his managerial achievements, but that fact he represented the club 154 times during his playing career. Across both spells Hill has managed The Dale 451 times, and with 75 games under his belt at Barnsley in between, there's little doubt that Hill is a capable and experienced head honcho. He's got a 41% win record across those games. Grant McCann's is currently at 43% from 46 matches.
Christopher Sarginson is the referee for this game. He's predominately found in League Two and hasn't officiated in our league this year. He's experienced though and has been in the football league for nine years, never making it above League One. He's been in charge of 28 games this campaign and has averaged 3.1 cautions per game. He's shown red on four occasions across the same number of matches. The last time he refereed Posh was back March 2016 when we lost 3-1 away to Bury. Sarginson sent off Ricardo Santos that day for two cautions. Michael Smith, Jack Baldwin and Michael Bostwick also saw yellow. He hasn't been to The ABAX since October 2014, when 'Boro drew 2-2 with Oldham.
The pair last met on the opening day of the season when Posh were 2-3 winners at The Crown Oil Arena. A late Gwion Edwards goal was enough to give Posh an opening day three points. Maddison and Forrester also scorers in that one. Peterborough have much the better record and usually do well against Dale. The club have met on 48 occasions, with Posh winning 22 to Rochdale's 10. Interestingly though, Rochdale did the double over us last season and beat us 1-2 in the last tie, between the sides, at The ABAX.
Chris Forrester and Anthony Grant remain suspended for this game. Harry Anderson is nearing a return to fitness, but still has work to do to be match fit. Jermaine Anderson and Gwion Edwards remain out on the sidelines. The news coming through this week that although Edwards injury isn't as bad as first feared, it does look like he'll be out for up to eight weeks.
League positions; Peterborough United - 9th Rochdale - 8th
Last five; Peterborough United - WLWLL Rochdale - LDDLD
Previous meeting; 06/08/2016 (League One) - Rochdale 2-3 Peterborough United
Average attendances (2015/16); Peterborough United - 5,447 Rochdale - 3,098
Top Scorer (league); Peterborough United - Tom Nichols (8) Rochdale - Ian Henderson (8)
Interesting fact: In November 2013 it emerged that Rochdale midfielder Joe Thompson, had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Hodgkin lymphoma, and would require chemotherapy. In June 2014 Thompson took to Twitter to announce that he was completely in remission and has been ever since. Three months after his remission announcement he became a dad.
The Motorpoint Stand is reopened for this fixture after works in the middle of the week. Tickets are cheaper for all areas of the stadium if purchased in advance and tickets are on sale at www.theposhtickets.com, via the Ticketmaster hotline 0844 847 1934* and in person at the ABAX Stadium Box Office.
*calls cost 7ppm plus your network access fee.