After Keith Keane was dismissed for a second bookable offence during stoppage time in the first half, the hosts made the most of their numerical advantage early in the second period, netting their three goals in a five-minute spell.
Dale responded with great fight and spirit, but couldn’t add to Callum Camps’ 65th minute goal, in game where they were twice denied by the woodwork.
In his post-match interview, Manager Keith Hill delivered an honest assessment of the game.
“My thoughts on the game are one of disappointment,” he told Dale PlayerHD.
“I’m disappointed with the way the first half turned out, considering the way that we started the game, the way that we dominated and the chances that we created.
“It became a little bit chaotic and I think that was a combination of refereeing decisions and our players falling for the old one-two, if you like.
“I’m also disappointed with the opening 10-15 minutes of the second half when you’re trying to make sure that you don’t concede when you’re down to ten men against a team who are really good at set-plays.
“Individuals have let us down on set-plays but those same individuals haven’t really let us down for most of the season.
“I can’t explain what happened in that first 15 minutes of the second half and after I made the substitutions I thought we were more than competitive. We scored a goal, but listen, it’s very disappointing from a lot of aspects tonight.”
Rochdale looked a major threat in the first half and had numerous chances to take lead.
Hill admits his side had been left to rue missed opportunities which were compounded by Keane’s dismissal.
“We rued missed opportunities and we’re ruing bad ill-discipline. Once you’ve been booked, you’re running a tight rope in this game with modern refereeing decisions. I can’t take off every player who has picked up a yellow card. I need more discipline and I need more understanding. I’ve gone through the
whole season having to take players off because of a little bit of self-discipline and the kneejerk reaction of referees who are always already to pull the yellow card out.
“The first offence for Keith Keane is not a yellow card – he plays the ball. And Ian Henderson plays the ball, yet one of their players pull one of our players back and nothing gets done. There’s an inconsistency to it but not every challenge is a yellow card offence. We went through the whole of Saturday’s game without a yellow card and tonight we’ve had four yellow cards and a sending off.”
And Hill was disappointed with the three goals conceded.
“Games are changed on decisions and the game was obviously changed on the sending off, but the defending for the three goals were individual mistakes.
“That’s been letting us down because we’ve been scoring goals. We’ve looked a massive goal scoring threat but we can’t always rely on our strikers. Our defenders or our defensive strategies have to stand up and be counted a little bit more.”
Watch the full 10 minute interview on Dale PlayerHD.