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21:28 31st March 2013
By  Kit Sproson

Preview: Exeter City v Rochdale

Exeter City will be looking this Monday to bounce straight back from their disappointing clash with local rivals Plymouth which ended 1-0 to the hosts.  Despite the defeat, the promotion-hopes are still very much alive, with City lying just five points away an automatic spot.

Despite the inevitable frustration Paul Tisdale, knows that there is little point wallowing in the mire and hopes that his players are planning to ‘move on’ when Rochdale visit St James Park on Monday afternoon.  Fortunately the fixture generator could not have provided a better opponent than the Dale following Saturday’s trauma – I even popped by the bookmaker’s myself – seeing  as Rochdale have recorded only a single victory in 25 visits to the Park since 1966 (in what was known then as the Fourth Division).  Interestingly between 1962 and 2013 they were the only club from the lowest tier of the Football League to have reached the League Cup final (until Bradford came along), though it is doubtful whether this statistic will have any meaningful impact upon Monday’s game!

Indeed it is hardly surprising that Rochdale are sitting relatively innocuously in 17th in League 2, out of sight of both relegation and promotion.  In fact the Dale spent a record 36 consecutive seasons in the League’s bottom flight between 1974 and 2010, so obviously they weren’t too keen upon promotion – will they just let the Grecians have the points on Monday then?

Match Officials
Referee: Philip Gibbs
Assistants: Richard Hulme & Simon Knapp
Fourth Official: William Bull

Team News
Tommy Doherty might end up being rested after a slight recurrence of his back injury against Plymouth – though his withdrawal might well have been precautionary, so time will tell if he is fit to feature against the Dale.  Alan Gow, Matt Oakley, Myles Anderson and Liam Sercombe will all miss out with their long-term injuries.

Previous Meeting
If the reverse fixture is anything to go by then Monday’s match is lined up to be an absolute corker.  Rochdale had a great deal of possession when the sides met at Spotland, but couldn’t prevent the Grecians from coming away with all three points in a game which ended 3-2.  Pat Baldwin put Exeter ahead after he was the first to react when John O’Flynn’s header was saved, before O’Flynn scored twice by converting a Jamie Cureton square-ball and Craig Woodman cross from deep. 

Terry Gornell almost completed his hat-trick (and a remarkable comeback) for Rochdale in the second half, but his afternoon was cut short after he was sent off for kicking out.

Form Guide
Exeter’s home form has hit its peak of the season recently and hopefully this rich vein will continue on Monday.  Undefeated in five and only the one goal conceded combined with the aforementioned omens, surely an upset is not on the cards?

Rochdale haven’t won in four but picked up a valuable point against strugglers Accrington Stanley on Friday.  Manager Keith Hill has admitted that his second period in charge of the Dale has been tougher than he initially expected, though three points at St James Park will arguably alleviate any outside fears of relegation this season.