Saturday 5th March 2021
(4th) Sunderland v Rochdale (23rd)
Sky Bet League One
Stadium of Light
TV/Stream: Full live match coverage available via www.safc.com
Radio: Full live match commentary available via BBC Sunderland DAB and BBC Radio Newcastle (not online)
Don’t forget to follow the blow-by-blow account of the game on the Roker Report Twitter feed (@RokerReport) and check out the player ratings after the full-time whistle at www.RokerReport.com!
Lee Johnson will be looking for a second helping of three points in the space of five days at the Stadium of Light as they take on League One strugglers Rochdale this afternoon.
As the charge towards the end of the season picks up pace again after a stutter at Crewe last weekend, Sunderland have now closed the gap to the automatic promotion places down to five points.
Over the last five games in League One Lee Johnson’s side claim the best form with four wins and a draw alongside current leaders Peterborough United and with other sides seemingly intent on slipping up, Sunderland could well have hit our stride at just the right time.
Rochdale however, have very different problems on their plate. Currently sitting second from bottom and although they’re only two points from safety, their current form suggests they are in freefall.
With two draws and three defeats in the last five, they can also add the fact they have only scored one goal in those five games to their list of problems. Despite not winning on the road since January 30th at Bristol Rovers, their away form defies their position in the league table with a record of just over a point per game so far.
Manager Brian Barry-Murphy is under pressure this season and might just look at the fixture at the Stadium of Light as exactly the type of game they need to take the pressure off.
League One Form Guide
Last five games...
Sunderland Team News
With Gooch set to have a fitness test this morning, Chris Maguire could be handed a place in the starting XI.
With Grant Leadbitter, Bailey Wright, Tom Flanagan, Conor McLaughlin and Ross Stewart all close to returning to training or full fitness it is unlikely we’ll see too many changes from midweek.
Possible XI: Burge, Power, Sanderson, O’Nien, McFadzean, Winchester, Scowen, Maguire, McGeady, Jones, Wyke
Rochdale Team News
Some good news for Rochdale was announced yesterday in the form of winning their appeal against Conor Shaughnessy’s red card against Hull City in midweek, who will now be available this afternoon.
Former defender Paul McShane will also be making another return to the Stadium of Light and will likely feature in the centre of defence for Rochdale.
18-year-old forward Kwadwo Baah who is set to join Manchester City at the end of the season will likely settle for a place on the bench.
Possible XI: Bazunu, McLaughlin, Osho, McShane, Keohane, Newby, Morley, O’Connell, Shaughnessy, Grant, Humphrys,
Last Time We Met... at the Stadium of Light
Saturday 11th February 2020
Sky Bet League One
Sunderland 3 - 0 Rochdale
(Gooch 11’, 32’, O’Connell (OG) 15’)
Sunderland: J. McLaughlin, Willis, Wright, Flanagan, O’Nien, Dobson, Power, Hume, Maguire (Semenyo), Gooch (Watmore), Wyke (Lafferty) Substitutes not used: Burge, C. McLaughlin, Ozturk, Scowen
Rochdale: Sanchez, Matheson, Norrington-Davies (Keohane), Ryan, O’Connell, McNulty, Lund, Morley (Wilbraham), Done (R. McLaughlin), Henderson, Dooley Substitutes not used: Lynch, McShane, Williams, Smith
Played For both
Made his debut for Sunderland in April 2001 as a 19-year-old and also made six league appearances for Rochdale in the same year while he was on-loan. Left Sunderland in 2006 after scoring 19 goals in 109 appearances, signing for Coventry City.
Also played for Kilmarnock, Hearts, Rangers and Ayr United in the Scottish Leagues and ended his career with 10 international caps for Scotland.
Oldham-born Buckley started out his career at Spotland making his debut in 2008 and going on to make 59 league appearances before moving to Watford in 2010.
He signed for Sunderland in 2014 after three years at Brighton but left after only making 24 appearances before leaving in 2017.
Head to Head...
In all competitions...
Sunderland wins: 4
Rochdale wins: 0
Goals for Sunderland: 13
Goals for Rochdale: 5
The bookies have this down as a nailed on home win which they have priced at 2/5, with Rochdale at 7/1 to cause an upset at the Stadium of Light and the draw on offer at 7/2.
For correct score the bookies have priced a 1-0 Sunderland at 11/2, with a 2-0 closely followed at 5/1. If you fancy the home side to open the floodgates, then a 3-0 is 15/2 and a 4-0 is a more tempting 14/1. For Rochdale to nick it with the only goal of the game, you would be offered prices of 18/1.
Charlie Wyke is once again the obvious favourite to hit the net for Sunderland at 21/10 for the opener and 13/20 anytime scorer with Chris Maguire next in line at 4/1 to get the ball rolling and 13/10 anytime scorer.
Looking at the form guide the overall result looks like a no-brainer, and as much as I’m tempted to say we’ll open the floodgates, I’m just not sure after how leggy the side looked against Swindon. I think we’ll control the game from the off but it’s all about getting maximum points at this stage.