Rochdale may have only secured League One survival on the final day of 2017/18, but that doesn’t really give a fair impression of their campaign.
Persistent problems with the Spotland pitch and a memorable run to the FA Cup fifth round – which saw them take Tottenham to a replay at Wembley – meant that the Dale found themselves lumbered with a substantial fixture backlog to fulfill at one point.
Regardless, after three seasons of flirting with the play-offs, Dale’s fall was a rather dramatic one. Their cup exploits and late-season wins over play-off finishers Rotherham, Shrewsbury and Charlton should give them encouragement, though, and remind them of just what they can do on their day.
Survival this season would see Dale equal their longest stay at this level since between 1969 and 1974. If they can use their great escape as a springboard and find a few more goals from somewhere – aside from the prolific Henderson, scoring was a problem – a more comfortable campaign should await.
Last season: 20th in League One
In charge: Keith Hill
Hill has spent the best part of ten years as Dale boss across two spells. He first took charge back in 2006, initially as caretaker, and steered them well clear of the League Two drop zone. In 2010, he led them to promotion – the first time they’d gone up or down in 36 years – and guided them to a ninth-placed finish in their first season back in the third tier, before moving on to Barnsley. He returned to Spotland in January 2013, having been sacked by the Tykes just before the New Year. The 49-year-old made 176 appearances for Dale and also played for the likes of Blackburn, Plymouth and Morecambe.
Star player: Ian Henderson
Henderson enjoyed his second 20-goal season for Dale in 2017/18. The 33-year-old striker and skipper took home the Supporters’, Players’ and Manager’s Player of the Season awards after playing a pivotal role throughout the campaign, not least at the business end when survival was at stake. Thanks in no small part to his 89 goals in 255 appearances, he’s already something of a club legend.
Key ins: The experienced David Perkins has signed on a free from Wigan and returns to Rochdale ten years after the end of his first spell with them, while fellow defensive midfielder Jordan Williams – who spent last season on loan at Spotland – has joined after coming to the end of his contract at Liverpool. Veteran forward Aaron Wilbraham has arrived following his release by Bolton, with midfielder Brad Inman returning on a free after spending 2017/18 on loan from Peterborough.
Key outs: Striker Steve Davies, whose eight goals last season included a 93rd minute equaliser to secure that replay with Spurs, was among five players released earlier in the summer.
Wycombe wins: 6
Rochdale wins: 4
First league meeting: 04/04/1994 (League Two): Rochdale 2-2 Wycombe (Wycombe scorers: Dave Carroll, Simon Garner)
Last league meeting: 22/03/2014 (League Two): Wycombe 0-2 Rochdale
Last Wycombe win: 21/01/2012 (League One): Wycombe 3-0 Rochdale (scorers: Stuart Beavon (2), Dave Winfield)