Manager Keith Hill admits it was a “special night” at the Crown Oil Arena, as his side booked their place in the fifth round of the Emirates FA Cup with a 1-0 win over Millwall.
The Lions had earned a replay against Rochdale, after snatching a late draw at the Den ten days ago, despite a performance from Hill’s team that was deserving of cup progression.
On Tuesday night, Dale to a man were once again impressive against their Championship opponents and a second half goal from Ian Henderson proved a worthy winner.
Speaking after the win, Hill commented: “I’m delighted with the team spirit and the performance. It was a big night and I thought we backed up the performance from the original tie at the Den to get a deserved victory.
“As a manager, you’ve got a game plan and over the last three games at least, the players have executed it and stuck to plan. They’ve also problem solved when they’re out there on the pitch.
“There’s the belt and braces framework that any manager goes with, but like I said, the players have made good decisions out there and I thought it was good performance with a well-deserved victory.”
Rochdale have reached the fourth round of the FA Cup four times in the last five years but have exited the competition at that stage, having come up against Sheffield Wednesday, Stoke City and Huddersfield Town.
A fifth round tie against Spurs or Newport County now awaits, and Hill believes that’s just rewards for all the times his side has missed out on that plum tie, if you like, over the years.
“Tonight was pay back for all those opportunities we’ve missed out on in recent seasons in the FA Cup.
“It’s a special night and it’s special for me as a manager to take club into the fifth round. The fifth round is something to really look forward to, and that was the challenge for the players tonight - to do something for the football club. Whether it’s Spurs or Newport, it’ll be a special occasion for me representing this football club.”
There was an atmosphere at the Crown Oil Arena that hadn’t been heard for some time, with all three home stands united in their vocal support for the players in the closing stages of the game, willing the players on to victory.
Hill has praised fans for their magnificent support.
“It’s brilliant when you can get the home supporters singing like they were singing. Every player wants to play with a harmonious crowd, and that’s what we had tonight. It goes down as one of those special nights.”