Ipswich Town’s opposition: first-ever visit from Rochdale
PUBLISHED: 17:01 25 September 2020 | UPDATED: 17:19 25 September 2020
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Ipswich Town welcome Rochdale to Portman Road for the very time tomorrow afternoon. Football Writer Carl Marston casts his eye over the post-Henderson era
Roll out the carpet – tomorrow sees Rochdale’s first-ever visit to Portman Road.
It’s just a shame that no fans will be in the stadium to see Dale’s first away meeting with Ipswich Town, due to the restrictions of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Rochdale took some brave but necessary steps earlier on in the summer, including allowing their talisman attacker, Ian Henderson, to leave the club.
Rochdale through-and-through, Henderson had been hoping to end his playing days at Spotland, having already rattled up a proud record of 126 goals in 343 outings for the club up until the end of the most recent truncated season.
But The Dale have since been facing up to life without Henderson, after he was one of eight of the most experienced players to be released in July.
The club explained the painful move as due to ‘the current circumstances surrounding Covid-19 and the uncertainty of when we will return to playing football in front of crowds.’
It will certainly seem strange not seeing Henderson in the Rochdale starting line-up. He had been a mainstay of the last seven years.
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Suffolk-born Henderson – he was born in Bury St Edmunds – was a previous stalwart at Colchester United after spending the first part of his career at Norwich City.
The 35-year-old attacker, who was a good servant to Colchester with 26 goals in 130 games from 2010 to 2013 (I reported on most of those games), has not let the disappointment of being released by Rochdale dampen his spirits.
Far from it.
The Dale’s second highest ever goalscorer signed for Salford City on a two-year deal at the end of July, and promptly scored his first goal after just two minutes of his debut.
Having scored against Exeter, he then proceeded to bag a hat-trick in Salford’s second league game, a 4-0 away win at Grimsby Town last weekend, so becoming the first player to score a hat-trick in the Football League during the 2020-21 season.
The Dale will certainly miss him – they have yet to win a league game – and also the other experienced players that they released, including strikers Aaron Wilbraham and Calvin Andrew, aged 40 and 33 respectively, plus 32-year-old keeper Callum Camps.
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So it’s a new-look side who will be at Portman Road today, from the one that was beaten 1-0 by Town on the Suffolk club’s first-ever visit to Spotland on November 5, 2019. Winger Dan Rowe scored the winner that day.
Rochdale were in 18th position, when last season was halted and eventually cancelled in early June, with final positions decided on a points-per-game basis.
At the time, the club’s chief executive, David Bottomley, was fully in agreement with that decision, and was even frustrated by the delay in making it.
“We could have taken a much earlier decision and saved a lot of angst,” he said.
“Within our league there are some very big clubs. Sunderland, Ipswich, Portsmouth and Peterborough, clubs that command crowds that would look good in the Premier League.
“There is more financial interest in League One of clubs trying to get back to where they think they belong and that has driven a lot of things.
“At Rochdale we like to think even if we would have been in a different position we would have felt the same and I think we would have done because in our 130-year history we have played fair all the time.”
Speed on three months and September has been a busy month in the transfer market, with a few holes filled to swell the squad.
On Thursday, the club signed striker Jake Beesley from National League club Solihull Moors for an undisclosed fee.
The 23-year-old striker signed a three-year deal at Spotland, having previously celebrated consecutive promotions from National League North to League Two with Salford City.
Earlier in the month, Dale re-signed Southend United attacker Stephen Humphrys for an undisclosed fee. Humphreys had spent the second half of the 2017-18 campaign on loan at the Greater Manchester club.
They also snapped up teenage defender Yeboah Amankwah on a season-long loan from Manchester City, while another player on City’s books, 18-year-old keeper Gavin Bazunu, signed for Dale in August, also on a season-long loan.
The Dale’s last outing was last Sunday, a goalless draw at home to Portsmouth. The previous week, Brian Barry-Murphy’s men bowed out of the EFL Cup after a 2-0 home defeat to Championship side Sheffield Wednesday, having won 1-0 at Huddersfield in the previous round.
They were outclassed on an opening day 3-1 defeat at Swindon.
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