Rochdale’s FA Cup fourth round replay with Championship side Millwall tonight will go ahead as planned, despite concerns over the state of the playing surface at Spotland.
Dale have not played a home game since a 1-0 home defeat to Lincoln City on January 9 in the Checkatrade Trophy. They have seen home games with Southend United and Wigan Athletic postponed after a succession of rainy days in Greater Manchester left the surface unplayable.
However, there is a pressing need to get their FA Cup replay with Millwall on, with the winners due to host Premier League giants Tottenham Hotspur, if they beat Newport County in their fourth round replay, live on BBC One on Sunday, February 18.
Dale had left the pitch covered overnight to protect it from freezing temperatures, but the worst of the damage had been caused by that heavy rainfall as our pictures show.
A statement on the official Rochdale website read: “A referee has today (Tuesday) taken a precautionary look at the pitch ahead of our Emirates FA Cup fourth round replay against Millwall.
“He was invited into the Crown Oil Arena by the club to view the playing surface following work that has been carried out in recent days.
“After a substantial amount of time was spent underneath the dome assessing the pitch and, following discussions between the referee, ground staff and external pitch contractor, tonight’s match remains ON.
“Due to the forecasted weather for this afternoon (snow showers are expected in Rochdale), the covers will remain on and will be removed as close to kick-off as possible.
“The club would like to place on record its thanks to the ground staff, the pitch experts and, more importantly, the small group of volunteers who have worked tirelessly throughout the day/ night on Monday and again this morning, doing everything they possibly could to ensure the game can go ahead.
“A further update will be provided if the situation changes.
“We are extremely grateful to those fans for their dedication and support at a time when the club needed it the most. Thank you!”
Plymouth Argyle are due to travel to Dale to face the League One strugglers on March 3, but already, they are facing problems not just with the pitch, but in getting their games played.
Keith Hill’s side have fulfilled only 27 of their scheduled 46 games so far compared to 31 by Argyle. Rochdale have at least two games in hand on the other teams in League One.