An upbeat Keith Hill spoke to iFollow ahead of Tuesday night’s League One fixture against Oldham Athletic at the Crown Oil Arena…
In his pre-match interview, the Gaffer reflected on the weekend’s win at Peterborough United and looked ahead to the midweek derby day encounter.
“Let’s get rid of all the propaganda, because there was a lot of propaganda during and after Saturday’s game,” said Hill.
“Peterborough didn’t have one shot on target in the first half when we had our full complement of players – not one shot on target. We allowed Peterborough to have the ball in the second half. Yes, we rode our luck in the second half, but we allowed them to dominate possession and get going so that we could defend with a deep block. Propaganda over now – we won the game.
“I thought about turning up today with a balaclava on, if I’m being honest with you,” laughed Hill when asked about comments made by Posh boss Steve Evans.
“It’s a bit of an insult to our tactical employment of the way we won the game. It was up to them to break us down. Ian Henderson had an overhead kick in the first half and Calvin Andrew hit the cross bar in the second half, and Joe Thompson was felled down for what should have been a penalty. It comes down to key moments in games and Peterborough huffed and puffed. They’re a good side, don’t get me wrong, but what I’ve had to listen to after the game – we wore masks?! Tactical nous is what it’s called, that’s all we did. We employed a tactical defensive strategy and it worked.”
Rochdale have lost just two of their last 11 league games. Hill is happy with what his players have achieved over the last couple of months and wants them to build on that going into the last five games.
“The players are happy. They obviously got a little bit down when we got beaten by Wigan, but they’ve bounced positively and there was a warm feeling of collective endeavour against Peterborough.
“It has got to be a continual forward motion going into the next five games. There’s no point in packing up your bag, patting yourself on the back and saying well done for what you’ve done so far. How well we’ve done in these last 12 games will only be summarised and quantified after the whistle of the last game of the season against Charlton.
“Everything else is a little bit of psychology. There’s a lot of psychology on tomorrow night’s game, because there will be a lot of managers, teams and players up and down League One looking at that result.
“But realistically, what looked impossible when we were on 26 points, 12 points away from our nearest rivals, is still there for us to achieve. Back then, the team we were trying to chase down outside the relegation zone was Northampton. They were 12 points ahead of us when we beat them 1-0 at their place which reduced it to nine points, and that’s when the journey started. There are different journeys within a 46-game season, but I’m really pleased. The players are honest, you see, and that’s what gets me so annoyed emotionally when we lose a game and there’s criticism of the players, because they’re giving everything. They make mistakes, but they’re out there trying their very, very best and giving everything. It’s harsh, and that’s environment we’re in, but they’re not letting me down, that’s for sure.”
And Hill says he’ll approach Tuesday night’s match stress free.
“We approach the game stress free. The lads have got to restore energy, having played Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday for as long as I can remember. We’ve got to find a way and we’ll come up with a plan to hopefully justify three points with a very positive performance. There’s nothing certain, except that the players I select will give 100-percent.”
Watch the full interview on iFollow.