By Tony Leighton
Rochdale captain Olly Lancashire will be aiming to lead his team back to winning ways when they visit Morecambe for Saturday's match of the day in what is an incredibly packed Sky Bet League 2.
Dale are fourth in the table but level on points with Oxford United and Chesterfield, who respectively sit second and third, and fifth-placed Morecambe are a point lower than their Saturday visitors.
So tight is the jostling for positions that only seven points separate top team Fleetwood Town and 15th in the table AFC Wimbledon - that's tight indeed compared to League 1, in which 22 points separate top from 15th, while the corresponding gap in the Championship is 17 points and in the Premier League 14.
Only a couple of matches ago, Rochdale, after a tremendous run of seven wins in eight League 2 outings, were two points clear at the top.
But a 3-1 defeat at Dagenham and Redbridge, followed by the loss of their unbeaten home record when going down 2-1 to Wimbledon, has proved costly.
Central defender Lancashire, an ever-present this season after his summer signing from Aldershot Town, told football-league.co.uk: "Every point is precious when there are so many evenly matched teams taking points off each other.
"We had a great run and should have kept it going at Dagenham. We had 25 shots to their four, and it was a similar story against Wimbledon.
"We've won at Torquay in the FA Cup since then, but we lost at Chesterfield in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy this week and that was very disappointing.
"Our performance wasn't like us, it just wasn't good enough. We've got to get back to what we do best, and that's work hard for each other for 90 minutes.
"It's going to be tough at Morecambe because they're a decent side who have put themselves in a good position to build a promotion challenge. So have we, but if we're going to kick on we have to quickly start winning matches again."
Though a third of the season has gone the promotion odds are too close to call, but Lancashire is confident that Dale can last the course.
The 24-year-old former Southampton and Walsall player added: "We've got a decent squad with 16 or 17 players who can step into the starting line-up and do a good job, so the manager can rotate the squad if and when he wants to.
"That will help if we get problems at any stage with injuries or suspensions, and if we keep the work ethic that we've shown so far then we've got enough quality to be there or thereabouts come the end of the season."