Rochdale v Wimbledon - Saturday 15:00
Rochdale have had a poor start to the season by their usual measure of overachievement, and Keith Hill is getting agitated, but the 47-year-old Boltonian is far too long in the tooth for knee-jerk reactions. Take the 31/10 about the Lancashire minnows taking a visit from newly-promoted Wimbledon by the scruff of the neck and landing the Rochdale/Rochdale half-time/full-time bet.
Performances so far haven’t been too bad. In four matches, Dale have given as good as they’ve got. But one point from a possible 12 is as bad as any four-game period they’ve had under Hill since clinching their first promotion in 2010 and it’s hard to envisage the slump lasting much longer. Hill will be demanding a clinical edge and that extra urgency alone could be the difference here.
But the first half holds the key. Wimbledon have proven themselves to be a difficult second-half team in 2016 and they visibly grow in stature the longer games stay level, with Neal Ardley often turning to his bench to make key tactical switches late on. By contrast, when they go behind early, they can be easily contained, looking sluggish and short of ideas.
However, that’s a problem Ardley will be looking to correct, so the 11/5 available on Rochdale to win the first half is a decent cover bet. Dale ought to be quicker out of the blocks and usually manage games well when ahead. But given their poor start, it’s not a certainty they would hold their nerve if sitting on a one-goal margin for too long.