Manager Keith Hill has been reflecting on Tuesday night’s defeat to Swindon Town in his latest interview, as well as looking ahead to Saturday’s League One fixture against Gillingham at the Priestfield Stadium.
Rochdale have four games left to play this season and are still in contention to secure a top six finish, should the in-form Chesterfield stutter and Dale secure the necessary points.
Hill says the midweek defeat to the Robins was a hard one to take, but admits that he believes the play off dream is still alive and is looking forward to the weekend’s fixture.
He told Dale Player: “The dream is definitely still alive but it’s fading because we’re not in charge of our own destiny.
“I find it difficult because I want to be competing at the top of the table and sometimes I get frustrated, as do some of the players. We’re developing but I don’t think we’ve earned our stripes for these big games. Not too many of our players have been involved in trying to get promoted from League One to the Championship, so it’s an education and hopefully it’s adding to the experience.
“I set myself up with so much expectation, so much desire, so much drive, so much enthusiasm and so much belief that on Tuesday/ Wednesday, I couldn’t sleep. I found it difficult not to focus and in hindsight I looked at what could have been achieved. I reflected on the players’ performances and how far they’ve come individually throughout the season, my own performances, the staff’s performances and how we can improve.
“I think it’s as low as I have been for probably 18 months, but I’m back where I need to be now emotionally - I’m back on track going into the game against Gillingham. I’m back in the room, I’m enthusiastic, I’m full of energy again and I’m ready to go. I’ve learned from the wrongs of the Swindon game.”
Dale set off on the overnight trip to Gillingham on Friday morning, and Hill is expecting a very difficult encounter against a side who were winners over Bradford City last Saturday and held Preston North End to a draw on Tuesday evening.
“I think they’ve probably got a bit too much to do to possibly get into the play-offs, but they’re safe and they’re in that comfortable position where they can be flexible and try things out to plan for next season.
“They can play free of pressure, but trust me, Justin Edinburgh will have these boys fighting every step of the way as he was a player, as he was as the Newport manager and as he is now as the Gillingham manager - they're a very good side.
“There can also be false dawns, there’s no question about that, when players are playing 4 or 5 games at the end of the season for their own futures – you just don’t know what to expect.
“They were superb during the week [against Preston] and I know that they're not already on the beach on their holidays. It’s a home game for them and they’ll want to finish the season exceptionally well. It’s a tough fixture for us.”
The full interview is available to view on Dale Player.