We look ahead to Saturday's League Two fixture at Spotland

npower League Two
Saturday January 19 2013
Kick-off: 3.00pm

This was the latest update on Rochdale’s official club website this morning -

The club’s Grounds staff have begun removing the covers which were laid on the Spotland pitch on Tuesday afternoon.

This is to allow them to begin removing the snow which has been on the pitch since Monday.

A decision was taken to leave the snow on the surface and place the covers over the top it as the snow, combined with the covers, have been acting as a double insulator against the temperatures which dropped below freezing over-night on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Grounds staff, who are doing everything possible to make sure Saturday’s game against Gillingham goes ahead, will stay long into the night tonight (Thursday) and Friday to shift the snow and re-apply the covers.

Forecasters are predicting further snow fall late on Thursday night and into Friday morning and we are keeping a close eye on the situation.

Gillingham manager Martin Allen has no injury worries ahead of the trip up to the North West but with the likes of Bradley Dack, Josh Hare and Devante McKain out on loan, young left-back Sam Muggleton has been added to the travelling party

There will definitely be changes to John Coleman’s 18-man squad for the game with the Gills after Ian Craney and Ray Putterill, who were both on the bench last weekend at Dagenham, left the club on Monday.

Another departee from Spotland is defender Neill Byrne who has moved to Blue Square Premier Tamworth on loan for the remainder of the campaign.

Press reports have this week seen Rochdale boss John Coleman insist he will “get it right” after seeing his side lose eight of their last 10 games and admitted "We're on a meteoric slide at the moment and we've got to arrest that".

They are currently lying 14th in the League Two table having gained 36 points (ten wins and six draws) from their 28 games.

At Spotland, the Dale have won four, drawn four and lost six with AFC Wimbledon, Burton Albion, Exeter City, Morecambe, Rotherham United and York City all returning home with maximum points.

Danny Kedwell took his Gills tally to a dozen goals against Port Vale last weekend with fellow striker Deon Burton also in double figures just two behind. Next are both Chris Whelpdale and Myles Weston with six apiece.
On loan Scunthorpe striker Robert Grant is top of Rochdale’s goalscoring chart with 12 goals while he is followed by Ashley Grimes (10), Andrew Tutte (8) and Dele Adebola (6).

It was back on September 29 that Gillingham saw their unbeaten start in League Two ended by a workmanlike Rochdale side who won 2-1 at MEMS Priestfield Stadium.

The Gills, who were not helped by the 33rd minute dismissal of Danny Jackman, made it uncomfortable for the visitors despite the numerical disadvantage.

 The visitors went ahead in the 15th minute, a short corner from Jason Kennedy found Andrew Tutte on the edge of the area which, after controlling, the visiting skipper curled the ball beyond Stuart Nelson with the possible aid of a deflection.

With the Gills continuing to get forward at every opportunity they were caught out for a second time 13 minutes after the break when Robert Grant drilled home at the second attempt after Nelson had done well to block the striker’s first effort.

In the 73rd minute Gillingham received a lifeline when Chris Whelpdale was adjudged to have been pushed at the near post and referee David Phillips pointed to the spot – Danny Kedwell confidently stepping up to send Josh Lillis the wrong way with a side-foot.

Despite losing for the first time the tremendous effort put in by Martin Allen’s side was recognised by a majority of the 5,874 crowd.

Gills – Nelson, Fish, Martin, Flanagan, Whelpdale, Jackman, Montrose(Allen H/T), Burton (Kedwell H/T), Barrett, Wright, Findley (Weston 34)  Unused subs: Strevens, Frampton, Davies, Forecast

Rochdale – Lillis, Rafferty, Bennett, R.Edwards, Kennedy, Tutte, Donnelly, P.Edwards. Adebola (Putterill 77), Pearson, Grant  Unused subs: Barry-Murphy, Grimes, , Curran, Craney, Byrne, Smith

Saturday will see the 38th meeting between the two clubs with the Gills having previously won 11 and drawn 13 of those fixtures.

The first of these games came in the FA Cup in January 1915 and it wasn’t until the 1959-60 season that the first league encounters took place in Division Four.

Referee – Mark Haywood
Assistants – Warren Broadbent & Robert Jones
Fourth Official – Paul Marsden

The West Yorkshire official was in charge of the Gills 4-0 victory over Aldershot at Priestfield back in October .

He has refereed 24 games previously this season issuing 58 yellow cards.