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Owls Hope To Down Dale

Will it be all smiles Saturday?
Owls hope to down Dale

Gary Megson and his new coaching staff take charge of their first game and they’ll be hoping to arrest a Wednesday winless league run stretching back to the 11th of December when they take on Rochdale at Spotland tomorrow.

Owls News

Gary Megson has promised changes after witnessing last weekends game with MK Dons, the new gaffer was critical of his sides first half performance and has warned the squad that they must do better or prepared to be shipped out.

It’s defensively where Megson has the most concerns, the Owls haven’t kept a clean sheet in the league since last November and he feels sorry for Nicky Weaver whom he rates as the best keeper in the division.

With it being a fresh start for the Owls we could see some old faces return like Mark Beevers, Richard Hinds and Tommy Spurr could all come into contention for spots in a defence which has leaked 17 goals in the last 7 games.

In midfield the Owls welcome Darren Potter back from his 1 game suspension whilst Isaiah Osbourne could get his first chance, albeit off the bench, the on loan Villa man has missed out in the last two through lack of fitness and illness.

Up front is the quandary for Megson, all four strikers offer something different and all four a massive goal threats, Morrison and Mellor both netted last weekend taking them to 25 for the season between them whilst Heffernan and Madine have looked in good touch every time they taken to the pitch and deserve a chance together.

Line Up

Team: (Possible 4-4-2) : Weaver; Buxton, M Morrison, Hinds, Reynolds; J Johnson, Coke, O’Connor, Teale; Mellor, Heffernan;

Subs from: R Johnson, Spurr, Potter, Sedgwick, Morrison, Madine, Jameson, Hinds, Osbourne, Jones, Beevers.

Rochdale AFC

So what is there to know about Rochdale?

They were formed in 1907.

They play in blue and black at home whilst it’s purple and white away.

They moved to their current Spotland home in 1920.

They entered the League in 1921.

They have been promoted just twice in their 89 years in the League, both from the 4th tier, once in 1969 and the other earlier this year.

They reached the final of the League Cup in 1962 and remain the only 4th division side to have done so.

They spent a staggering 36 years from 1974 in the bottom division; they also survived re-election in the late 70’s.

1973 FA Cup winning manager Bob Stokoe had two spells in charge of the club.

The Ground

Spotland has been home to the Dale since 1920 and was purpose built for the football in hope of getting tem elected into the football league, these days the ground is shared with the local rugby league side.

The ground is not all seater but has a capacity of over 10,000 and is highly recommended by many lower league fans as “one to visit”.

The Westrose Leisure stand (Willbutts Lane) is where away supporters are housed and is actually the largest stand in the ground, it can accommodate 3,650 but is restricted to 3,250 on police advice and the Owls have taken their full allocation, the all seater stand runs down the touchline and is regarded as one of the best away views in the division.

Opposite the away end is the Main stand which again is all seater, the capacity for this stand is 1,774 plus 10 executive boxes and space for 72 disabled supporters and their helpers.

To the left of the away end is the most popular home stand, the TDS stand which was opened in 1997 by the late and great Sir Nat Lofthouse, the stand holds 2,584.

Bang opposite the TDS and to our right is the only standing area available at Spotland, the Thwaites Stand (Sandy Lane) and the terracing can hold just shy of 1,900.

The Gaffer

Keith Hill took his first steps into management with Dale in late 2006, he replaced Steve Parkin, initially on a caretaker basis before taking the job full time at the turn of the year.

He became only the second man in Dale history to win promotion when he led the club to 3rd place last season, that made up for play off heartbreak of the previous two seasons and ended a 36 year exile from the 3rd tier, Len Richley was the other boss who had won promotion in 1969 and began Dales 5 year stint outside the bottom tier.

As a player Hill began his career with Blackburn Rovers and made an appearance in the inaugural Premier League season he later moved on to Plymouth before turning up at Spotland in 1996, he made 176 appearances for the club before moving to Cheltenham.

His stay at Cheltenham was short lived and brief spells with both Wrexham and Morecambe he retired and joined the Dale staff as Director Youth in 2003.

The Squad

Midfielder Gary Jones is in his second spell full time with Dale although he has also had two loan spell with the Spotland club, the 33 year old has spent over ten years with the club and is fast approaching 500 career appearances for the Dale.

Gary’s career began with Caernarfon Town in the Welsh Premier League before being snapped up by Swansea City but made just eight appearances for the Swans before being loaned to Dale for a month, the deal was later made permanent. From signing permanently in February 1998 Gary would go on to make 161 appearances and score 25 goals for the club.

In November 2001 Jones was sold to Barnsley and re-united with former Dale boss Steve Parkin who’d just taken the reins at Oakwell but the move would prove to be a disaster for both with Jones netting just twice in 57 appearances in a spell that lasted over two years as Barnsley dropped out of the second tier.

He moved back to Dale in 2003 on loan before making the deal permanent the following spring, in his second spell he has played 275 times and netted 42 goals, 14 of which have come this season in just 31 appearances.

Goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams made the short journey to Rochdale from struggling Stockport County last month, a well worn transfer path that has seen the likes of Adam Le Fondre and Ricky Lambert make.$plit/C_71_article_1085012_image_list_image_list_item_0_image.jpg

Fon Williams started his career with Crewe Alexandra in 2003 after impressing during a trial but a catalogue of injuries saw him fail to make a single appearance for the Alex and he had to wait until 2008 to make his first team bow after making the switch to Stockport.

The move to Edgeley Park brought out the best in the young Welshman despite the club being under severe financial pressures and his form led to him being called up to the full Wales squad after impressing in the Under 21’s.

Stockport’s struggles couple with injuries left Fon Williams on the sidelines as they tried to arrest an alarming slide towards the conference and in October he joined Bury on loan for six games before returning to the Hatters.

He left Stockport on January 20th to sign for Dale on a free transfer, he’d made 91 appearances in just over 2 and a half years with the club, he’s quickly settled at Dale and the home fans are impressed so far.

Looking around the Dale squad there a few recognisable names that have played for local sides, midfielder Will Atkinson is on loan from Hull, he had a brief spell at the DVS with Rotherham. Striker Chris O’Grady had a spell at Rotherham before falling out with the club during their financial struggles. Liam Dickinson had spells with both Huddersfield and Barnsley, he is on loan from the latter.

A name familiar to Wednesday fans will be Brian Barry-Murphy, the Irishman had a spell at the club during Chris Turners spell as boss, he moved onto Bury before joining Dale in the summer.


GK : Fon-Williams, Taberner, Edwards, Jones;

DEF : Wiseman, Widdowson, Holness, Josh Thompson, Brown, Dawson, Flynn, Brizell, R Williams;

MID : Barry-Murphy, J Kennedy, Jones, Done, Joe Thompson, Flitcroft, Adams, Byrne, Atkinson;

FOR : Dickinson, Redshaw, Akpa Akpro, O’Grady, Andre, Gray;

Previous Clashes

This will be the first ever meeting between the clubs in Lancashire, there have only been 3 previous clashes, all at Hillsborough.

Recent Form Guide

Last five : L D W L D
Last five away: 1-5, 0-1, 3-0, 0-4, 3-5

Last five : D W D D W
Last five home : 1-1, 3-2, 1-1, 1-1, 3-1

Stat Attack

* Harry Catterick had a five year stint managing Rochdale before moving to Hillsborough in 1958, he transformed the Owls from a yo-yo club to title contenders before moving to Everton.

* Players to have played for both include Rory McArdle, Grant Holt, Martin Hodge, Lance Key, Brian Barry-Murphy and Gary Shelton.

* Current Owls Academy boss Sean McAuley had a 2 year stint at Spotland as a player.

Final Thoughts?

So Wednesday face a side that are 9 without defeat and have picked up 19 points from those games, a run we really could do with, it’s going to be difficult but we’re Sheffield Wednesday, lets go over there and hand them a lesson, batter their football team, drink their beer and give their women folk summat to smile about, we need to pillage like the Vikings but at present we’re more like the French so perhaps a meek surrender is on the cards.  

Unread article 11/02/2011 at 09:51



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