Peterborough scored twice in two minutes through Jack Baldwin and Tom Nicholls, before Joe Thompson responded immediately to pull a goal back.
Joe Rafferty was dismissed in first half stoppage time for a second bookable offence, and Donal McDermott saw a straight red seven minutes into the second half leaving Dale with nine men.
They performed superbly to stay in the game and sensed a point was up for grabs when Baldwin saw red for a second yellow card, but Paul Taylor made it 3-1 five minutes before the end to seal all three points for The Posh.
“I think we were let down today. We just want a fair opportunity and a fair representation, and I’m not blaming Peterborough for us not having one today.
“It’s not all about winning. It’s about trying to salvage something when you’re up against everything and I witnessed that from the players, which gives me great heart and great belief.
“The score-line could have been upwards of three when we go down to eight outfield players but they never gave in and they gave everything.
“But again, I believe that Peterborough were awarded an unfair advantage but I don’t blame my players for that unfair advantage.
“I personally feel a little bit embarrassed for the Referees’ Association, because I’m quite fair and open with them. I try to do as much work as I can with them to help improve the game, so I’d be slightly embarrassed about the standards they are providing in League One because it’s not good enough. There are livelihoods at stake here – staff and players, and supporters have spent a lot of money to support us today. I think the supporters have been magnificent on what has been an extremely difficult day for us.”
Dale were denied a stone-wall penalty in the first half after Jamie Allen was brought to ground inside the area.
“These are game changing decisions. It’s a shame for Jamie and it’s a shame for the players who worked so hard to give ourselves an opportunity to get something out of the game. We’ve had that opportunity taken away from us and I don’t believe that Peterborough have taken that away from us.
“We’re going through it at the minute. We had the debacle at Bolton and now we’ve had a less than adequate standard of officiating today in an extremely important game against Peterborough.”
Donal McDermott was dismissed early in the second half, after being shown a straight red card for a foul on Jack Baldwin, despite having won the ball.
“It looks a lot worse than it is. I believe the referee has made a very, very quick decision to send Donal off, but I think if he was to look at it again, he’d see that there is absolutely no contact whatsoever. It’s a less than nice lunge but no contact is made, but he has sent him off and I’ve got to deal with that now.
“I’ve got one or two players who are nursing injuries, including Niall Canavan, and I’ve also got illness in the camp.
“We were down to the barebones today but we’re even worse for Tuesday now."
Despite the numerical disadvantage, the Dale players never gave in, and for spells in the second half, were on top. Hill says this gives him a lot of encouragement.
“I take a lot of heart and a lot of ambition looking at the players’ performances. I can be critical from a technical point of view, but I can’t be critical of their heart, spirit, fight, desire and discipline at times. There was discipline in position and discipline in possession with the way we tried to play to try and get something out of the game. But the game was just too big to get something out of in the end.”
Calvin Andrew and Ian Henderson started the game at full-back, and Hill says the two players had his full trust to do that.
“I’m really pleased for the two players because they accepted the challenge. We had a chat then we worked on it during the week. They were 100-percent all in and that’s why I trusted them. They’ve been excellent.
“It won’t be my plan for the remainder of the season, but against today’s opposition, I thought it could have yielded and should have yielded more opportunities. But once Joe Rafferty gets sent off and we go down to 10 men, it’s an uphill challenge no matter who is playing at full-back, or elsewhere on the pitch. You’re just trying to fill a hole that’s constantly leaking.
“I feel for the players because they have 100-percent committed to today. In days of darkness, like we’ve had today, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and the future is really bright.”
Watch the full TEN MINUTE interview on Dale PlayerHD.