Rochdale 0-0 Oldham: League One relegation battle ends in stalemate
Tuesday night offered League One action. With 12 teams taking to the pitch, there is plenty to discuss. One game, however, was hugely important for both sides. Rochdale United at home to Oldham Athletic.
Known as the A627 derby, the two Greater Manchester clubs have a fierce rivalry. Situated roughly seven miles apart, Rochdale and Oldham were battling for League One survival in their latest clash at Spotland.
Prior to kick-off, Oldham sat just one point above the drop zone. Rochdale, meanwhile, took up the last relegation place. Both teams entered the game in good form. The Latics were unbeaten in four matches, collecting six points. The Dale had amassed ten points from their last five encounters.
With just one point separating the two relegation-threatened rivals, this derby took on added significance.
Keith Hill sent his home side out in a 3-5-2 formation. Brad Inman and Calvin Andrew started up top. For the away team, Richie Wellens preferred a 4-2-3-1 formation. Irishman Eoin Doyle led the line.
Rochdale had the first attempt at goal in the 16th minute. Midfielder Callum Camps struck a right-footed shot from outside the box, only to see his effort deflected over the crossbar. Seventeen minutes later, Oldham conceded a penalty when Anthony Gerrard fouled Joe Thompson. Joseph Rafferty stepped up to take the spot-kick, but Johny Placide saved to keep the score goalless. Both sides missed further chances before the break.
The second half's first effort came from Rochdale's Matt Done. On 55 minutes, the 29-year-old missed the target with a header. Defender Jimmy McNulty managed to test Placide not long after. The Haitian-born keeper kept the Latics level once again.
More chances arrived as the game went on, yet neither team could capitalise. The final whistle sounded. Rochdale and Oldham earned a crucial point.
Following the 0-0 stalemate, Rochdale remain in the relegation zone on 46 points while Oldham hover one place and point above. With only four games left, the battle for survival is intensifying.
Over 6,000 people attended the game. Oldham had 12% more possession, but none of their six shots worked the keeper. Rochdale had 11 attempts, with four on target. Both teams may come to rue wasted opportunities.
There were a few positives, though. As well as keeping clean sheets, the two sides extended their unbeaten runs. That's a rarity for League One's strugglers.
Rochdale and Oldham must now turn attention to their weekend's games. The Dale host 10th placed Bradford, while the Latics travel to 18th placed AFC Wimbledon, a team on a two-game winning streak.
League One's relegation battle is getting tense. Each game more important than the last. With only three points separating 18th from 21st, it's still all to play for. Rochdale and Oldham must both deliver in their remaining four matches. Two wins apiece will likely be enough to survive.