Manager Keith Hill reflects on 10-man Rochdale’s 1-1 draw with AFC Wimbledon…
Dale were trailing to a 12th minute goal, but secured a point deep in stoppage time.
“It was a difficult afternoon,” Hill told Dale PlayerHD.
“I thought going 1-0 down would prompt a bit of what I expected from us and for us to relax but it probably made it a little bit worse to start off with.
“As we approached half-time, for around the last 15 minutes, I thought we were getting our game together. We were penetrating good areas of the pitch without any product and it’s always a worry.
“They scored a good goal and I thought their tactics were superb throughout the game. I wouldn’t have done anything different myself to what they did – they nicked a goal and they counter-attacked with one or two half opportunities but, for me, it was just a question of the players relaxing.
“I actually said at half-time that I wouldn’t mind if we lost the game as long as I see growth and I actually see the players while they’re struggling with confidence trying to find it, and you can find it in games like that.
“An old coach said to me that you can find your confidence when you’re losing matches because once you’ve reached rock bottom you should be able to bounce. That’s the same when you’ve reached a certain period in the game, in a season or in a run of games.
“I wasn’t expecting to go down to ten men but the reaction of the players was absolutely superb.
“I was unhappy about the 1-0 score-line but it’s football and you have to deal with it. Our passing could have been cleaner but I think, during the first especially, we were making confidence mistakes. It’s not through a lack of want, a lack of desire, a lack of respect, a lack of concentration or a lack of disciple, it’s confidence mistakes that we’re seeing at the minute and that’s a big worry for me.”
He continued: “The players haven’t left the building, that’s for sure. They want to do well but confidence is a big thing – it’s the salt and pepper in football. Wins and goals make the feeling so much better. With confidence, you forget about the bad things and that’s what we’re talking about.
“What I will say about the first half, as bad as it got, I thought the atmosphere inside the stadium was very supportive and I was really impressed with that. I said to the players at half-time that ‘yes there’s disappointment because you’re making mistakes but you should also be disappointed in yourself. The supporters are actually supporting you – they know how difficult this game is and where we are psychologically’, so I thought the supporters did really well with respect to that.”
After an emotionally charged end to the game, Hill has issued an apology and says he takes responsibility for his actions.
“That’s down to me. My natural nature is to be aggressive and I’ve been suppressing that. I think I was right in my decision not to send Conrad up [for the corner] because it’s not something I do, and he has apologised to me for creating that, but I will apologise for my language.
“I believe that good relationships are built on strong arguments but I do sincerely apologise for the aggressive wording of my argument, especially when there are kids there. I hope I’m forgiven. If I can, I'd like to, in particular, seek out that one family out who had children and I will apologise to them. I am human and I do make mistakes. I am prepared to accept the mistakes that I make.”
The full interview is on Dale PlayerHD.