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Rupert Wyman 31st Jan 2010 - 18:18

The East Lancs Derby

For those who have a keen interest in professional football at the lower end of the spectrum, or if you are a fan of 'The Shakers' or 'The Dale', the wait is over!

The East Lancs derby games are the matches Rochdale and Bury fans look for first, when they scan the new fixture list in June.

They are never boring affairs, the atmosphere tomorrow and the high tempo football will keep all viewers intrigued. Rochdale top the league two table, but both teams are in good form.

Bury have won four of their last five league fixtures and not lost at home since September.  Rochdale have drawn three and won two of their last five league games.

They have developed a seven point gap between themselves and Bournemouth in second, although rival teams do have games in hand.

Rochdale have played in the Football league's bottom division since 1974, this is the longest any side has competed at this level in the history of the division. Some opponents have even renamed it the 'Rochdale Division'.

They are the nearly team in the division, they have reached the playoffs the previous two seasons, yet failed to take advantage.

This season they have topped the table at Christmas for the first time, with forty seven points from twenty two games.

Rochdale have a small squad but have really cut the mustard in league two this year and seem destined to finally move up the football league ladder.

Bury managed by Alan Knill have previously won the FA Cup, in 1900 and 1903. They have slowly progressed as a club, since they were relegated from league one in 2001-02, following a spell in administration due to financial irregularities.

Bury's star striker Andy Bishop has struggled with knee, groin and abductor muscle injuries and he is resuming training on Monday but he may find tomorrows game has come too soon for him to feature.

However, it will give Bury a huge psychological lift and galvanise them, making them feel like they have signed a new player.

What can inspire Bury, is that Port Vale snatched a point in the game against the Dale and with Bury sitting in fourth, they will be really psyched up to close the gap.

I would back the draw at 23/10, it will be a very tightly contested match with neither team having much space to play good football. Bury's home advantage may help them gain a point against the Dale.

It will be a scrappy game, with the players having little time on the ball and although Rochdale are the highest scoring team in the league, I would back the 0-0 draw at 7/1.

It would be the second 0-0 match in a row for Rochdale, but a point at Bury would still be a valuable.



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