Love thy neighbour… except on derby day: Oldham and Rochdale set for El Flatcapico

Oldham Athletic host Rochdale in the season’s second ‘El Flatcapico’ having beaten their League One rivals 3-0 at Spotland in November.

The Latics come into the match on the back of their first win in four matches, while Dale are within three points of the play-offs with two games in hand over sixth-placed Peterborough.

Oldham Athletic manager Dean Holden knows the importance of the derby better than most, having played for both sides during a long playing career, and hopes his Latics side can rise to the occasion.

“Players come in on loan from different clubs and it is important they have a touch of history with the club and they realise what a big game it is,” he said.

“Our motivation will be to continue Saturday’s result and make sure we take it forwards now.

“There is a real sense of optimism around again and hopefully there will be a few more supporters turn up. It will be a good atmosphere and Rochdale will bring a good following as well so it’s one that we are all looking forward to.”

Dale manager Keith Hill is wary of the threat the local rivals will hold, but is confident of gaining a third-straight win in the space of seven days.

The manager recognises how Oldham are in a transitional phase after the departure of Lee Johnson earlier this year, but does not see the Latics as easy targets.

Speaking to Rochdale’s official website, Hill said: “I’ve got a lot of respect for Dean and for Tony [Philliskirk], as well as for Oldham.

“They’re very similar to us, with the exception of Tuesday night when they’re rivals. I think other than on a matchday, we try and help each other out as neighbours.

“We’re looking forward to the game, but I don’t think it makes any difference whatsoever with respect to them having caretaker managers.

“The attitude and the application of the players is what’s important and most players turn up for a derby.”

Dale have no fresh injury concerns and could name an unchanged side to the team that defeated Scunthorpe United 3-1 on Saturday.

Matty Lund (Shoulder) and Calvin Andrew (Knee) are still long-term absentees, but tonight’s fixture presents a golden opportunity for Hill’s men to jump back into the play-off positions.

Latics’ Goalkeeper Joel Coleman is Holden’s only fresh injury concern after picking up a calf injury in Saturday’s 1-0 win against Crewe, but should be fit to play.

Saturday’s match-winner Conor Wilkinson is on international duty for Republic of Ireland under-21s and misses out, while long-term absentees James Wilson, Liam Kelly (both calf), Jacob Mellis, George Elokobi, Joseph Mills (all hamstring) all remain unavailable.

The season’s first El Flatcapico was a fiery encounter, played out in front of 7,269 fans including 3,000 travelling supporters.

Tension boiled over during the match with pitch invasions, flares, and smoke bombs leading to nine arrests being made.

Holden hopes for a more peaceful crowd tonight, but recognises that vocal, passionate support is integral to local derbies.

“When they are all together, like they were on Saturday [against Crewe], it doesn’t half make a difference,” he said.

“Even during the warm up when there are quite a few in the stadium, they are enjoying their day out and it makes a big difference. 

“It is important that the players lift them, like they did on Saturday, and hopefully we can start the game and the fans can get right behind us and make it a great evening.”

Main image courtesy of OfficialRochdaleAFC via YouTube, with thanks.

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