Question of the Week
Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
By: Richard Lord
HAVING lost all three of their League Two away games this season, Russell Slade and his men will be glad to return to 'fortress' Blundell Park this Saturday to face Rochdale.
Following the disappointing result at Wycombe on Bank Holiday Monday, the management, players and fans will be keen to reply positively against 'Dale, who currently lie in 18th place, with Town just three places above. Grimsby have played well in every game so far this season but they have been creating a habit of not scoring when the chances come along. The 5-1 win over Bury last month gave a good indication of what Slade's side is capable of, but much will depend on the personnel up front and whether they can find the back of the net at the crucial times.
Many football pundits consider Rochdale as one of the most 'unsuccessful' football clubs in League history. They have only ever won promotion on one occasion - that being in the 1968/69 season, when a third placed finish was good enough to see them elevate to Division Three. They dropped back into the basement division five years later, which is where they remain today.
This is Steve Parkin's second spell with Rochdale after he first left the club to manage Barnsley back in 2001. However, the Tykes were relegated as Grimsby survived that season, and both Parkin and Tony Ford were relieved of their duties due to financial restraints at the club. The duo are now back at 'Dale and working hard towards taking the club forward.
Although Rochdale's squad looks relatively thin, they have a good combination of youth and experience. Daryl Burgess has played most of his career at a higher level, most noticeably at West Brom where he worked with Alan Buckley. Keeper Neil Edwards has been at the club for some time, providing familiarity at the back. However, New Zealander Leo Bertos has the talent to undo any defence in this division. Assistant manager Tony Ford offered the former Barnsley man a deal at Spotland and he enjoyed a successful first season, netting ten times in all competitions. He has the pace and directness to unsettle Town's back three. He could start as a substitute on Saturday.
Wycombe 0-2 (a)
Mansfield 2-0 (h)
Wigan 1-0 (h)
Rushden 0-1 (a)
Bury 5-1 (h)
Leyton Orient. 1-2 (a)
Bury 0-3 (h)
Wolves 2-4 (h)
Wycombe 3-0 (a)
Southend 2-0 (h)
Town There appears to be no fresh injury news at this early stage, although it has been common knowledge that defender Simon Ramsden has been playing with a strained neck over the past three games and may well face another fitness test before the game on Saturday. Ashley Sestanovich was brought off at half time against Wycombe, but it could have been a precautionary measure from boss Russell Slade, who will hope to have the on-loan Sheffield United striker available. Michael Reddy played 45 minutes on Bank Holiday Monday and could be set for a starting role if the manager, as expected, returns to the more accustomed 3-4-3 formation, and that could see Stacy Coldicott drop back down to the bench.
Rochdale Saturday may see the return of Tony Gallimore to Blundell Park. He played in 'Dale's 2-1 defeat at Leyton Orient on Monday. Steve Parkin could be tempted to make one or two changes to his side that have lost three on the trot (albeit one against Wolves in the League Cup). Rochdale's main threat will be Gary Jones, who has bagged three goals so far this term.
Grimsby have got a very good record against Rochdale. On the 35 occasions that the two sides have met, the Mariners have been victorious 20 times, having lost nine and drawn six.
The most obvious connection of recent times is Tony Gallimore. Signed by Brian Laws in 1996, the left back eventually departed Blundell Park to sign for Barnsley in 2003. He famously fluffed a last-minute spot kick at Oakwell when the two sides met last season, and was released from the club when Paul Hart arrived at the end of the last campaign. He signed a one-year deal at Spotland in the summer.
You have to travel all the way back to 17 March 1990 to find the last time these two clubs met. It was in the old Division Four and at a time when Town were finding their momentum under the stewardship of Alan Buckley. A solitary Dave Gilbert goal in front of just over 3,000 fans was enough to earn the Mariners all three points in a season that saw Town finish second and win promotion to Division Three. In fact, there have been some good victories over 'Dale in the past - a 5-2 win at Rochdale was recorded in the 78/79 season, and the return fixture was won 4-0 by Town later that campaign.
Despite losing at Wycombe on Monday, Town demonstrated yet again that they have great ability but the test on Saturday will be to see if they can realise their potential. It's been a strange season so far. Rochdale lost heavily at home to Bury - a team Town ripped apart only a few weeks back. At the same time, Rochdale comprehensively beat Wycombe whereas Town succumbed 2-0. I'll go for a close game, which Town scrape 2-1.
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