League One: Rochdale v Dagenham & Redbridge preview
Can the Daggers pick up their first away win of the season at Spotland tomorrow?
THERE are signs of encouragement for Dagenham & Redbridge as they prepare to face Rochdale tomorrow.
Following the much lauded victory over Swindon Town three weeks ago, John Still’s men have been unsuccessful in building on that momentum.
A lifeless performance away at MK Dons, which saw them go down 2-0, was followed by last weekend’s disappointing 1-1 draw at home to fellow strugglers Walsll, where the hosts let their lead slip.
Tomorrow, Daggers will look to lift a heavy weight from their shoulders and finally pick up their first away win of the season when they travel to the Spotland Stadium in Greater Manchester.
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Despite having only picked up two points from six games on the road in League One, the two draws came in their last three games and were fair reflection for impressively dogged performances.
At Colchester United especially, a side boasting an unbeaten record going into the game, they were especially unfortunate not to leave with all three points.
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Although they beat Daggers twice in League Two last season, and having started promisingly in the third tier of English football this term, Rochdale have lost three games in a row in recent weeks.
Following their five-game unbeaten run in September, which included strong victories against promotion candidates Southampton and Huddersfield Town, defeats then came against Exeter City, Yeovil Town and Bristol Rovers.
“We are on the back of another defeat but I’m feeling philosophical,” said Hill, following the defeat in Bristol.
“I think we are where we should be in the league at this moment in time, I think perhaps we got inflated by our league position and the run of form that we were in.”
He added: I just think that the last three games have balanced the books in a way.
“However, I’m still reasonably optimistic and pleased with our performances, individually and collectively.”
The Rochdale chief is also boosted by a near fully-fit squad with only French striker Jean Louis Akpo Akpro a slight doubt with a thigh injury.
Last time out: The Daggers lost 3-1 at Spotland in February, when two home goals in the final 10 minutes undermined an otherwise committed display. Josh Scott, who is likely to start on the bench tomorrow, scored the only goal for the Victoria Road club on that day.
You do not have to look far into the history books for the most recent Daggers’ victory in Manchester however, which came in October 2008 when Paul Benson and Matt Ritchie scored in a 2-0 win.
Key man: John Still highlighted weaknesses in his side’s defence after the draw against Walsall and captain Mark Arber also told his team-mates to get tough in order to stay in the division. The centre back, who recently turned 33, will have to lead by example if his side are to return to Dagenham with anything to show for their efforts on Saturday evening.
Best odds: Rochdale 11/10 (Bet365), Draw 23/10 (Coral), Daggers 13/5 (William Hill).