Second-year scholar James Neild praised the Youth Team’s spirit to see of MK Dons in the second round of the FA Youth Cup.
Dale took an early lead but were reduced to ten men shortly after the break. However, they rallied and grabbed a second late on to secure their place in the third round.
“It was very good,” said Neild.
“We’re through to the next round and that’s what matters. When Harrison got sent off, we had to fight it out and come together as a team to see it out. Thankfully, we managed to get another goal and the win.
“We all had to come together, regroup and defend with our hearts, and that’s what we did at the end. They had a few chances but we had more and we carried on fighting to get the win.
“Goals kill games and we should have scored a lot more. If we get as many chances in future we need to take them to kill the game off earlier, instead of having to do it at the end when it’s harder.”
Neild and Juwon Hamzat have been the centre-back pairing for both of Dale’s FA Youth Cup games this season, and revealed they were playing together when they were as young as six-years-old!
“We’ve played together since we were about six, on and off, so coming back together it’s almost natural.
“We played together at Duckenfield, went our own ways and then came back together at Curzon Ashton where we played together for two years. We both came on trial at Rochdale at the same time and both got scholarships.
“We’ve always known each other and always played well together, and tonight we’ve played well again.”
The defender has been Captain for the majority of the season and is enjoying the role.
“Last year’s Captain [Joe Renner] gave me a lot of advice and he helped me, being the other centre-half. I’ve just picked up on things he did, took them on board and tried to follow on from him.”
Neild was part of the matchday squad for last week’s Checkatrade Trophy tie against Leicester City Under-21s, something he learnt a lot from.
“It was very good. There were a lot of professionals playing, Leicester are a good team full of physical lads, so it was good to watch and learn off the likes of Jim McNulty and MJ Williams. It was a good experience.”
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