Can Dale end 35 year wait?
Date published: 07 May 2009
Ben Muirhead's penalty in last season's play-offs hits the net to send Rochdale to Wembley.
Rochdale have the chance to exit League Two via the play-offs for the second time in as many seasons, and end a 35-year stay in the football league's basement division.
The journey begins at Spotland this evening and will hopefully end with victory in the final at Wembley on 23 May, the scene of last year's heartache where Dale lost out on promotion to Stockport County.
Dale face a Gillingham side hoping to bounce back to League One at the first time of asking after their relegation to the fourth tier last season.
The game will be the second of three between the two sides in a little over a week. The Gills triumphed 1-0 on the last game of the season proper on Saturday; a fixture which prompted both managers to make whole sale changes to their respective starting elevens and hide their cards ahead of the play-off exchange.
For tonight's first leg the big guns will all return, with Nathan Stanton, Tom Kennedy, Ciaran Toner and Lee Thorpe all likely to be included from the start for Rochdale. The remaining conundrums to be solved by Keith Hill are which of Simon Ramsden and Scott Wiseman to play at right back, which wingers, of Joe Thompson, Will Buckley and Adam Rundle to include, and who, of Chris Dagnall and Adam Le Fondre, will play alongside Thorpe up front.
Mark Stimson meanwhile will welcome the return of top scorer Simeon Jackson after a weekend rest, as well as Andy Barcham and Mark McCammon.
Tickets for the game are available from the ticket office at Spotland right up to kick off, although supporters are reminded that they can not pay by cash on the turnstiles.
As with all Rochdale games, Rochdale Online will carry match reports at both half time and full time and check back tomorrow morning to re-live the action through our exclusive matchday photographs.
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