As the festive period fast approaches, it’s the first of four league fixtures for Dale during December, culminating in a trip to Scunthorpe United which will take Keith Hill’s side to the half-way point in the season.
Hill says no matter what time of year it is, any time is an important time to be picking up points.
“Points secure manager’s positions and they give a lot of confidence to players and supporters.
“The supporters will be travelling down to Swindon and they want to go there fully charged and hoping for three points, or planning for three points, and that’s what we’re doing. It’s a marvellous playing surface that we’re going to.
“But any time in the season is important to pick up points.”
Saturday's opponents, who were last season's League One play-off finalists, currently sit 17th in the division but have seen a revival in their league form since the appointment of Martin Ling, who was nominated for the Sky Bet Manager of the Month Award for November.
“I’m really pleased for Martin” said Hill.
“Essentially, Swindon are good football club, with good, good players. I think it was difficult for any continuity when they lost so many players at the end of the season. It’s very difficult when you’re using the loan market so much because it creates future trouble.
“But they’ve got the majority of players coming back onto the pitch and they’ve got a bit of continuity under Martin Ling. They’ve got a method and a way that they play, which is how they’ve always played, and they’ve got to be admired.
“I think they were missing one or two cogs and now they’ve got them back. They’re playing to a certain shape and system and they’re back in their flow. Once a team like that gets flowing, they can be a really difficult opposition.”
Rochdale were 3-2 winners over Swindon Town when the two sides met at County Ground last season.
Bastien Hery’s stoppage time header from a corner earned Dale the three points and put an end to the Robins’ nine game unbeaten run.
Hill remembers the game well and agreed that it was one of the best away wins of last season.
“It was an amazing evening because I thought we did absolutely superb in a technical game against the opposition to nullify them.
“They found it difficult playing against us and then they came up with a goal which I was really disappointed with. I was as sunk as you could ever imagine at half-time because our game plan was really working. It was really effective but we allowed them to score a goal – they didn’t score a great goal. We got back into the game absolutely tremendously and then we took the lead. When it went to 2-2 there was only one team that was going to win that game and that was Swindon,” laughed Hill. “I’m sweating underneath my hat on the touchline, and I mean sweating, thinking about the clock running down.
“As a consequence of an injury, Bastien comes onto the pitch and Michael Rose is on the pitch at the time who we know is a set-piece specialist. Bastien wasn’t meant to be at the near post and it was one of those things where it was decided by the footballing gods that we would win that game because it wasn’t even a corner. Let’s be right, the ball didn’t go out. And if it did go out, then it went out off Ian Henderson.
“The celebrations at the end were quite tremendous. It was brilliant travelling back having beaten what I personally think was one the best teams in the division last season from a pure footballing perspective.
“It was a brilliant, brilliant victory over them and it was big surprise for them because they hadn’t come up against the tactics we employed. I’m not too sure whether other teams used them tactics again after we played them.”
The game was a high tempo affair and Hill says he’s always looking for that type of energy and tempo.
“We have to do because that’s the way that we play. We haven’t always scratched up on that but I’ve got to be very forgiving and so has everybody. We’ve got to try and improve on performances to get the points. But I heard a Manager during the week saying I don’t mind dirty, ugly points and no Manager does.
“Points are points and performances get lost in the wash. It’s all about points but do I want energy? Yes. Do I want passing? Yes. Do I want physical ability and running? 100-percent. Discipline? Yes. We want all those things and we want the players to put into practice the image that I portray as a Manager on that football pitch.”
The full interview is on Dale PlayerHD.