Harry Drew looks ahead to a League Cup tie that presents an opportunity to advance/a potential banana skin, depending on your viewpoint.
When this fixture was drawn following the conclusion of the Capital One Cup’s first round, there was a collective groan among City fans (if Twitter can be classed as a representative sample). It is true that a home tie against League One Rochdale doesn’t quite have the appeal of a novel away trip to Accrington Stanley. Nevertheless, progressing in the cup can’t be a bad thing, even if this tournament isn’t taken too seriously by most participants.
You only have to look to the last round for evidence of this. Blackburn, Bolton, Nottingham Forest and Brentford all suffered home defeats at the hands of teams in lower leagues, while Championship promotion favourites Derby County were humbled by League Two Portsmouth. It’s easy to forget that had City not triumphed in the penalty shoot-out at Accrington, we would also be on the receiving end of a dreaded ‘giant killing’ story.
Fortunately, things didn’t turn out that way and City have a great chance of getting through to the third round. For their part, Rochdale were rewarded with a Tuesday night trip to Hull after defeating fellow League One side Coventry on penalties following a 1-1 draw AET. Dale have started the season well, initially taking six points from six following an opening day win at home to Peterborough and an away defeat of beleaguered Blackpool. They have since drawn one and lost one but a return of seven points from the opening four games isn’t to be sniffed at.
Manager Keith Hill guided Rochdale to their best ever league finish last season, his side coming a respectable 8th. This is even more impressive when their lowly budget is considered. The key man to watch for on Tuesday night is Ian Henderson. The striker – who once represented England at under-20 level – scored 22 goals in 44 games last season, League One’s second highest total.
In terms of the City XI that we can expect to see, that remains up in the air. This fixture may however be the perfect opportunity for Mo Diame to finally return to the fold. Steve Bruce may want to give the likes of Greg Luer and Calaum Jahraldo-Martin some game time while resting a few of the more senior players. Whatever side Bruce fields will be strong, such is the depth of City’s squad (as it stands…)
City have only played Rochdale once at the KC, a Division Three fixture in 2004 resulting in a 1-0 win for the Tigers thanks to a late goal from Damien Delaney. Indeed Rochdale have traditionally struggled when playing in Hull – you have to go back 17 years to a Division Three tie in 1998 for the last time Rochdale won away at City. For that miserable record to be broken, they’ll need to pull off quite the cup shock.
Harry Drew @hdrew95