Rochdale bowed out of the 2012/13 season with a deserved victory over Plymouth Argyle thanks to a debut goal from Joe Bunney.
The second half substitute had been on the pitch less than five minutes when headed Dale ahead late in the game against the ten man Pilgrims.
Manager Keith Hill gave his thoughts to Dale Player after the game:
“It was a professional performance and I was very encouraged by the attitude and application of the players and the way that we played. Like I said last week, these games make an impact on my standing in the game and my future. After 18 games back at the club we’ve lost five so we’re going in the right direction. At this time of the season the players can roll out the carpets or get their flip flops on, but they haven’t and they’ve responded superbly to the hammering that they got after last weekend.”
Hill handed first team debuts to D’Arcy O’Connor, Scott Tanser and Joe Bunney. O’Connor and Tanser were amongst four second year apprentices who were handed their first professional contracts on Friday and the Manager is full of praise for the youngsters:
They've [Jamie Allen, Joel Logan, O’Connor, Tanser] been training with us since I’ve come into the building and that is part of the process and development. We’re also trying to fast track some of the upcoming second year apprentices and will be training with us for the whole of next season in preparation for the season after. We’re just slightly behind with these four [who were offered contracts on Friday], but we’ll be in front come the start of the season because they’re going to do training programmes over the close season.
"They’re an integral part of my thinking with respect to next season and I feel as though with a little bit of encouragement and a little bit of trust that they’ll be ready. These players won’t just be squad fillers, they will be contributors to next season. They are talented players and they’ll be good acquisitions for Rochdale Football Club. They will be allowed to go away [on holiday], but they’ve got a tough summer ahead. Professional football these days is an everyday thing. It’s not about going away for two months and put on two stone in weight then work hard in pre-season. It’s a profession now with a lot of science and it will get these players prepared."
Bunney, who joined Dale on non-contract terms last month, scored Dale’s only goal of the game within five minutes of being introduced onto the field of play and Hill says it can only get better: “Talent is talent and he’s got talent. He’s a little bit of a late developer at 19 but now he’s had his first taste of men’s football and I think he’ll get better and better. He’s got great movement, a great appetite and he knows where the goal is.”
Hill confirmed his released list on Friday and says work is already underway to recruit for next season, but urges fans to be patient:
“I’m well on the way to speaking to players agents, but I’m going on holiday on and I’ll be back on June 2nd and that is when the real work will start. I ask fans to be ultra patient because we’re not looking for a quick signing to sell season tickets. We want supporters to buy season tickets, but we don’t want them to buy them on a market signing. Buy season tickets, support your team and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the way we set up next season.”
You can listen to the full interview on Dale Player now.