Manager Keith Hill has praised the fighting spirit of his players after ten man Dale came from behind to secure a victory over Oldham Athletic in Saturday’s derby day fixture at the Sportsdirect.com Park.
The win came on the day that Hill marked his 400th game in charge of Dale and it topped of a memorable week at the club following last weekend’s victory over Bury, the acquisition of Spotland Stadium on Wednesday, and, of course, that managerial milestone.
Rochdale had fallen behind just before the half hour mark after Aaron Amadi-Holloway’s placed finish opened the scoring, but Ian Henderson levelled from the penalty spot.
Henderson then saw red for a second yellow card on the stroke of half-time, reducing Dale to ten men for the whole of the second half.
However, Dale rallied and took the lead four minutes into the second half thanks to an own goal from Anthony Gerrard, before Camps scored a wonder goal to put Dale 3-1 up.
Amadi-Holloway netted a stunning volley to claw one back for the home side, but Dale held on for a third successive victory,
“I thought we showed an excellent fighting spirit today when we were down to 10 men,” Hill told Dale PlayerHD.
“I thought we started the game superbly and I think that was the problem. We almost took our foot off the pedal and allowed Oldham to grow into the game – I think everybody could see that the goal was potentially coming because of the manner in which we relaxed. You have to be able to relax but not switch off.
“The penalty came out of nothing but it was definitely a penalty, there’s no question in my mind, and that gave us something to hold onto.
“We got to half time and obviously Ian Henderson got sent off but we went with a game plan and it worked.
“I think their second goal made it very nervy at times because they threw everything at us as you’d expect.”
And Hill described Camps’ goal as special.
“I’m so glad that Callum Camps’ goal won us the game because that goal is special.
“You talk about 400 games in charge. I remember every goal but there’s only one or two that register in the front of your brain – Gary Jones at Southampton and I think that one today will be alongside Gary Jones’ at Southampton. We’ve scored some magnificent goals in them 400 games but I’ll remember that one. For that one to be up there with Gary Jones’ is testament to the type of goal that he’s scored.”
Saturday’s win moves Dale within four points of the play-off places with nine games left to play this season but Hill wouldn't entertain the question of a late play-off push.
“I think we're getting a bit carried away. It’s only seven games ago that we were contemplating getting involved in a relegation fight, but that’s the season.
"I’ve always said, and that’s whether we’ve been winning, losing or drawing and wherever we are in the table, that you earn your stripes and your merits over 46 games, and that’s when you can really start analysing the season.
“I looked at the spirit that the players were playing with today and there was nobody out there defeated when we were down to 10 men. I saw Michael Rose raise his game today – I thought he was outstanding in midfield. Everybody was fully inclusive in us in trying to attain the three points.
“I thought it was a special, special day today and it excites me when we’re getting that.
“With the nine games remaining, we’re just going to look forward to them and try to get as many points as we can and see where it takes us.”
Hill confirmed that Matty Lund missed the game through injury, while the other players who didn't travel the game were ill with a sickness bug.