They say the ‘hair of the dog’ is the best way to cure a hangover and following relegation from League One what better way to aid recovery than to get back to first team action.
We will all have to wait another week for league action to come once again but the ‘plink, plink fizz’ arrives with the visit of Barnsley for the first round of the Capital One Cup, with the added zest of Messer’s Keith Hill and Dave Flitcroft once again adorning the dug outs.
Dale put the Championship side out of the competition under its former guise of the Carling Cup thanks to an early second half Anthony Elding winner at Oakwell in the first round a couple of seasons ago, ironically under the stewardship of ‘Hillcroft’ and a repeat for John Coleman’s side would be a welcome start to the new season.
It's not the only victory in the League Cup for Dale over Barnsley, Rochdale won 2-1 back in August 1996 though they didn't win through to the next round as the Coca Cola sponsored League Cup back the was a two-legged affair and Barnsley cruised to a 2-0 win at Oakwell.
The return to Spotland of legendary management duo 'Hillcroft' should see a welcome befitting their achievements at the Dale helm from the home supporters and Keith Hill admitted in his pre-match press conference his time at Spotland was special and returning to the ground will be an emotional occasion.
“It’s not a difficult fixture, but it can be made difficult with my emotions,” said Hill. “I’m treating it as a professional game. It’s a game we want to win and that we’re setting up to win.
“It’ll be great to go back, and I’m sure there’ll be certain sections who will warm to me with greetings then there’ll be the other side who consider me to have left the club when I should have stayed.
“I really enjoyed my time at Rochdale as a player and as a Manager and what we created at that football club was special. We were in a bubble and the Chairman warned me about the prospect of leaving but I’m ambitious, I had to leave, he knows that.
“But it was special, the way that we took a club that was destined for the Conference both as a team and financially. To resurrect, promote and make it into a thriving financial business – incredible.
“It was really sad when they were relegated, but I believe they’ve got a good Manager in place who will try and do what we previously did.
“It’s going to be competitive, because of the nature of the game – Keith Hill and David Flitcroft are taking Barnsley back to Rochdale. It will be a competitive game but I expect us to shine through as a Championship side.”
Rochdale manager John Coleman is expecting a tough encounter and recognised the excellent work of Keith Hill and Dave Flitcroft during their superb stint at Spotland and hoped the pair receive a reception from Dale supporters worthy of their time here.
“Every time I’ve crossed swords with Keith and Flickers it has always been a difficult game,” said Coleman. “They have always been hard fought games. Both of them have earned the right to have a good reception when they come back – they did really well for Rochdale and they should be rewarded for that. But we certainly won’t be making their return visit anywhere near comfortable, we’ll be making it as hard as possible.”
“We’re going into the game with confidence, the players are confident and they are comfortable with each other. A certain amount of that confidence was born in Austria when we were going through how we wanted to play. You can’t really gauge too much into pre-season games because you don’t know what the opposition are trying to achieve from the game, but we’ve got a style of football that we want to play and hopefully we’ll deliver that and we’ll be successful.”
On the eve of the game John Coleman added to his squad with the signings of ‘keeper Ben Smith and striker Craig Curran making 15 new additions to the squad over the summer.
Pre-season preparations came to a head on Tuesday night as Rochdale faced a strong Burnley side and ran out deserved 3-1 winners following an excellent display. It was a showing that did much to whet the appetite of Dale supporters and if the Barnsley scout was in attendance he’d have plenty in the notebook to take back to Oakwell.
The Rochdale manager can choose from that squad with no additional injury worries with just Reece Gray (broken leg) and Goalkeeper Matty Edwards who is out with a damaged wrist that requires some surgery. He’s expected to be out for at least six weeks.
It’s a different story over the Pennine’s with Barnsley boss Hill already having plenty to think about on the injury front. Six players are already cast as doubtful for the game with former Dale midfielder David Perkins amongst the casualties with stitches in a head wound. Striker Mido has a ruptured hamstring and faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines after limping out of Barnsley’s pre-season game against Doncaster.
Tony Silva, who replaced Mido in that game lasted just 20 minutes before joining Mido in the treatment with a twisted knee.Also on the doubtful list are Scott Golbourne, Luke Steele and Stephen Dawson.
As always we’d love to see you all at Spotland but if you cannot make it then the next best thing is Dale Player.
Full live match commentary will be available from around 2.50pm so tune in and enjoy Rochdale v Barnsley - LIVE!