Dale have the winning mentality

Rochdale's Rhys Bennett shields the ball from Preston North End's Paul Gallagher when the two sides met at Spotland
Rochdale's Rhys Bennett shields the ball from Preston North End's Paul Gallagher when the two sides met at Spotland
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Simon Grayson and his Preston North End side know first hand just what kind of challenge Rochdale will offer at Spotland this weekend.

This is the second meeting between the sides in less than three months, PNE having beaten Dale 2-0 in August’s Capital One Cup tie.

The home side certainly gave as good as they got that night and Grayson expects another tough examination in Greater Manchester.

“Rochdale are a really good team and in the early part of the season they gave us a difficult night,” said North End boss Grayson.

“They play with energy, pass the ball around and Keith Hill has got a side of which he should be very proud.

“We go to Spotland in good spirits but certainly respectful and wary of what Rochdale can offer.”

Hill’s side have adapted well to League One after winning promotion in May.

They sit ninth going into PNE’s visit, having won seven of their 14 league games.

Two of those victories have come in the last 11 days, both on their travels.

A week last Tuesday, they won 3-2 at Swindon and then last weekend beat Yeovil 3-0.

Jack O’Connell headed them in front early on against Yeovil, with Ian Henderson then netting twice.

Henderson now has seven for the season, putting him one behind Matt Done in the Dale scoring charts.

Peter Vincenti has seven in all competitions but a knee injury is currently keeping him on the sidelines.

Grayson is impressed with the way Rochdale have settled into this division, so too Fleetwood and Chesterfield.

Only Scunthorpe of the four promoted sides have struggled to make the step up.

Said Grayson: “In all of the divisions you tend to get at least one of the promoted sides doing well the following season.

“Last season in this division, Bradofrd were up there and Rotherham ultimately got promoted.

“This time, Rochdale, Chesterfield and Fleetwood are all in the top half.

“Promoted sides have momentum and a winning mentality, Keith Hill has instilled that at Rochdale.

“When you look at their team, they haven’t really got an out-and-out striker but still score plenty of goals.

“They play a lot in midfield, pass the ball and get into areas and pockets to try and hurt you.

“Henderson and Done are wide players and midfielders rather than strikers but that is how Keith likes them to play.

“We are aware of their strengths and know what they are all about.”

Dale boss Hill is in his second spell in charge at Spotland and has guided them to promotion to League One during both.

While the start to life back at this level has been good, he thinks there is still plenty more to come from his side, especially up front.

Hill said: “We know that as long as we are creating chances and we have brave players who are willing to miss those chances, then we will convert.

“We are scoring a lot of goals as a result of creating a lot of opportunities.

“We need to be up around the 40 per cent mark in terms of converting chances created.

“ We haven’t been anywhere near that apart from certain games so I am encouraged that we can actually score more goals than we are doing.”

“We had an excellent week in beating Swindon and Yeovil.”