Manager Keith Hill has praised the “honesty, appetite and winning desire” of players following his side’s win over Southend United at Roots Hall.
A late goal from Callum Camps ensured Dale ended a 33-year wait for a victory there, sparking brilliant celebrations between players, staff and supporters.
“From a game perspective, I thought the lads showed great honesty, a good appetite and a winning desire. I think we got our just rewards,” said Hill.
“There was a bravery within the performance and there were mistakes, but there’s going to be mistakes because we’re Rochdale AFC. We’re going to make mistakes and win games, and we’re going to make mistakes and lose games, like we did last week. But having made mistakes, the individual players recovered well and there wasn’t any drama on the pitch – I don’t like drama. I’ve got to make sure I get this squad back to a no drama attitude, and I thought we got as close today as we possibly can to that type of performance."
And Hill was pleased at how well the players responded to last weekend's defeat to Plymouth Argyle.
“We recovered well from last week, put in a good performance and got three points today.
“We’re an honest football club, and for me, there was too much criticism with respect to last week’s defeat. It hurt me and it hurt the players, but they responded really well.
“33 years not to win here, it tells its own story about the history of the football club and that’s why we shouldn’t be complacent and enjoy every moment of it.
“I enjoyed today and I’ve enjoyed this week. After we got beat last week, I wasn’t low with the performance, but I was low with some of the criticism that I thought that the club, myself and the players had received but they’ve bounced really well.
“I thank the supporters for turning up today and I’m glad we got result. I hope they enjoyed it, and hopefully it’s forward and upwards.
“I think there’s a misinterpretation of how the players feel about representing supporters. I don’t think any genuine supporter who supporters Rochdale Football Club should question the players’ desire, commitment, endeavour and energy. Yes they get it wrong sometimes, but every player gets it wrong. The expression at the end the shows and sums up that they love playing for the football club, which they do.”
Five minutes before Camps’ winning header, the Shrimpers had equalised after a sustained period of pressure, but Dale responded superbly well, having dominated the first half, to claim a deserved three points.
“Arguably they didn’t deserve to score the equalising goal and it could have knocked us and it could have rocked us. We’re in a situation within the game where we’ve got players running out of energy, not because they’re not fit enough, but some of them are very young and inexperienced at preserving their energy for 90 minutes, and I made my three substitutions.
“We were put under direct pressure so I made a tactical change with Joe Rafferty coming off because they were trying to isolate Joe, like Plymouth did to a certain degree. I have to make decisions during the course of the game that won’t always work in my favour but I thought they did today. They were picking on Joe and they put a player on him who was taller than him, like Plymouth did with Joel Grant last week, and I’ve got to be aware of that. Kgosi [Ntlhe], at this moment in time, is a little bit better than Joe in the air, especially at those diagonal passes, so that’s why I made the change.
“It was difficult for us to play the passing game today, and that provided a little bit of education for Dan Adshead. That was the cut and thrust of League One, right in your face, and he was excellent. It was out his comfort zone – passing and possession, and today he’s in one-on-one duals, getting involved with headers, tackles and tracking. He got caught a few times but part of my job as a manager is to develop and I have to allow players to solve problems on the pitch.
“Gilly has worked hard today with an honesty and hopefully he’ll mature while we’re trying to give him an opportunity to develop. He has to develop by playing football, and the next one will be Aaron Morley.
“And I thought MJ Williams in the centre of defence was outstanding. People confuse me with being mad instead of being brave, but why can’t he play centre-half? I see him as being on the best centre-halves in the league, and I’ve got to let him grow in that position. I’m not mad, that’s one thing I do know.”
Hill was booked by the referee for alleged time wasting after changing his mind about a substitution, and the Gaffer has moved to clear up the situation.
“I got booked today, and I feel quite insulted by that, to be perfectly honest. In 12 years of being a manager I have never been booked or been charged by the FA. I had to make an honest decision – Calvin was coming on for Dan because Dan had run his race when Jordan Williams informed one of the players that he was injured.
“It was the right call. I wasn’t time wasting, I was making a genuine decision as a manager. Don’t tar me with the same brush as managers who constantly get booked for technical area behaviour because I’m not one of those managers. But I’ll take that one.”
Watch the full interview on iFollow.