Manager Keith Hill has been reflecting on Sunday’s FA Cup tie v Aldershot Town at the ESS Stadium…
His pre-match preparations were thrown into chaos as the sickness bug, which has sweeping through the squad, showed no signs of relenting over the weekend, and Hill admits he was pleased to get a draw under the circumstances.
He told Dale Player: “We’ve left four players/ staff at home and then we work on the training pitch and select a team that we feel as though will do the job today, but overnight two of those players from the starting eleven are taken ill, and Andy Cannon, who was going to be a substitute also fell ill, so we’ve got three players who should have taken part in today’s fixture, who are ill.
“It was a massive test and a massive challenge for us because we changed the side arguably three or four times and we had to change the side twice this morning. I wanted to take Peter Vincenti off but I couldn’t – he has only been on the training pitch two days, so with respect to the chaos that has been involved in preparing for the completion of this game, then I would have accepted losing – there’s no question about that. That’s testament to the players who have shown a little bit of character, because they could have gone under today and they could have given the game up in the last five minutes, but they didn't.”
He continued: “It’s a stomach bug – sickness and diarrhoea – and it just seems to be lingering in the football club. We’ve not put a tap on it yet and we’re hoping to because we play with a lot of energy and unfortunately energy seems to be missing at the minute. It’s unfortunate because you want a true reflection of the players, your squad, your team and what we stand for, and we’re not getting it, so I’m really that we’re still in the cup and that gives me an enormous sense of pride that the players didn’t give up. I’m really looking forward to the draw and I’m looking forward to the replay.”
And Hill says it’ll be quarantine again for the players this week as he looks to stop the illness spreading any further.
“Like I’ve said, we’ve left players and staff are back home - Matty Lund, Joe Raff, Brian Barry-Murphy and Gary Thompson, and today Rhys Bennett, Andy Cannon and Joe Bunney have fallen in, so I don’t know what to do – we’re trying to tie the club down."
The full interview is available on Dale Player.