Despite Boundary Park and Spotland sitting only six miles apart, Saturday’s derby between Oldham and Rochdale will be lacking the spark of a long-running rivalry. Over 2,000 Latics fans will be at Spotland, but the clash is arguably ‘just another game’ from a Dale perspective.
Oldham head into the match with more at stake, both on and off the pitch. Latics fans are the more desperate for a rivalry to develop, but will perhaps be more concerned with how Stephen Robinson will approach the game against an organised home side. A win for the inconsistent Latics could be the confidence boost that kick-starts their season, but Rochdale will offer tough opposition as they seek to rediscover the form that recently saw them embark on a seven-match winning streak after two defeats.
So how will both teams approach Saturday’s meeting? To help preview the game and discover if there really is a rivalry, I spoke to Mike, who follows both Oldham and Rochdale. First, I asked him why he supports both clubs, and what the main differences between Latics and Dale are:
“I live midway between both grounds, so why limit yourself to one team. Both teams play home games on alternate weekends, so there’s always a home game on. For me, it’s twice the chance of avoiding disappointment and it’s a guaranteed way to get out of Saturday trips to IKEA! Saying that, I’ve never met anyone else who supports both teams.
“In the last few years, Dale have been punching well above their weight with a good manager in Keith Hill who plays exciting football. They are a well managed club and well organised with a stable structure.
“By contrast, Oldham have been completely unsettled in recent years with constant changes in managers and players, and endless speculation about the ground. It doesn’t make following Latics less interesting, just different!”
Form and Recent Meetings:
If Stephen Robinson wants to take a result back to Boundary Park, he will have to organise his side better than recent 2-0 defeats to Bolton and Bristol Rovers. Although Latics defeated leaders Scunthorpe between those two losses, the same defensive mistakes and attacking hesitancy have characterised performances in recent weeks. Improvement is needed against an organised Rochdale outfit, and Saturday’s derby is an ideal opportunity to kick on.
Mike says: “Rochdale started poorly, but settled into a pattern than saw them get seven wins in a row. They’ve had a little blip with two defeats in the last two games, but Keith Hill can move his players around and change things. Oldham haven’t got that, and they’re still looking for the best team. They’re getting there very very slowly, but lack any punch in attack.”
Recent meetings between the sides is fairly equal. In the past 8 meetings since Rochdale’s first promotion to League One in 2010, both teams have three wins each. Last season, Rochdale only needed 10-men to come from behind and secure a 3-2 win at Boundary Park after a 0-0 draw at Spotland, but Oldham had the bragging rights in 2014/15 thanks to 3-0 wins both home and away.
Oldham captain Peter Clarke will be no stranger to derby games at Spotland having joined Latics from Bury. Keeper Connor Ripley will surely have a tough afternoon against an efficient Rochdale attack, while Oldham’s attacking fortunes could well depend on whether Ryan Flynn and Carl Winchester are on form.
Winger Ryan McLoughlin could be pushing for a start after manager Stephen Robinson praised his cameo against Bristol Rovers, while Northern Ireland teammate Cameron Dummigan will cause problems from right-back if given the support.
For Rochdale, Mike says: “Callum Camps could be the difference for Dale. He’s starting to run the midfield and is capable of wonder goals like the one he scored at Boundary Park last season. He could be the successor to Gary Jones in midfield, so control him and Latics have a chance.
“Rochdale’s normal key man is Ian Henderson, but he just doesn’t like playing Oldham. For Latics, Ryan Flynn has to turn up and drive play forward, otherwise they’ll be swamped by Rochdale.”
Oldham will need to be on top of their game to get a result, and recent mistakes from set pieces will have to be cut out. Likewise, better decision making in attack is required, as Rochdale have the ability to control the midfield and win the game.
Mike says: “I think it will be defensive and close, so a similar game to last year’s draw at Spotland. If Dale take the lead, they should have enough to win the game. If Latics go ahead, they’d have to do well to hold on to it. I think it’ll be 2-1 to Rochdale.”
The Wider Picture – is there really a rivalry between the clubs?
After Oldham’s 3-0 win at Spotland in 2014 was marred by crowd trouble, there was maybe potential for a rivalry to develop. As both teams continue to compete alongside each other in League One, there is perhaps room for a one to grow. At the moment though, any rivalry is driven by Oldham fans, with Dale supporters yet to get on board.
Mike says: “There isn’t any rivalry there. I’ve lived in the area for over 30 years and I’ve never noticed any sign of a rivalry apart from when the two teams play each other. Neither set of fans bat an eyelid when the other’s score is read out at half time for example. It seems like there’s more of a grudging acceptance of each other, but maybe there would be a rivalry if both clubs were going for promotion at the same time.”
Rochdale vs Oldham kicks off at 3.00pm, Saturday 29th October.
Thanks to Mike for previewing the game. Look out for my Post Match Verdict after the game.