Manager Keith Hill reflects on Dale’s 2-1 win over Bury in the Checkatrade Trophy, on a night where Luke Matheson and Florent Hoti made their senior debuts, and Zach Clough made his debut for the club.
“We played well, in the first half especially. The biggest risk of all is not taking the risk,” said Hill as he reflected on his young side’s performance against the Shakers.
“League One, for Rochdale, is getting harder and harder for us to maintain our League One status, so it’s difficult to get the likes of Aaron Morley, Dan Adshead, Luke Matheson and Matty Gillam game time in League One because we want to stay in League One, at least. So, it was important that I played those players tonight, rewarded them for the work they’ve been doing on the training pitch and it was reflected in their performance.
“I thought it was an outstanding performance in the first-half. The first half was football enjoyment. We got tired, it was evident, but for me, the first half was beautiful. It could be a look into the future, but that first-half was amazing in every aspect, with and without the ball.
“A lot of them haven’t completed 90 minutes since pre-season, and Gilly and a couple of others including Jordan Williams ran themselves into the ground. That’s what I want. I’d rather them burn out than fade away. I thought Aaron Morley was outstanding and Dan Adshead was superb. The future could be bright for this football club, as well as individually for those players. I’m really pleased that they’ve got their reward result wise.”
Matheson became Rochdale’s youngest player when he joined the action after just 13 minutes, replacing the injured Connor Randall.
Hill has praised the youngster’s outstanding performance.
“Luke Matheson, wow! That first half was a little insight of what we see on the training pitch, including Jimmy McNulty who came over when it was obvious Connor Randall was injured and asked if I was putting Luke on, and why not because we know what he can do. It’s not a leap of faith because we know what he can do.
“My main priority is at lease stabilising our position in League One but we try and do a good job with the bringing the youth through and fast-tracking them like Luke, who has been training with the first team while he’s not been at school, so I’m really pleased for him to have got his chance.”
Bury halved the deficit on 70 minutes in controversial circumstances from the penalty spot. Hill believes the Caolan Lavery’s goal shouldn’t have stood.
“I can’t say too much on the Bury penalty but I’ve looked at it and I’m going to go and see the referee. I don’t know how he awards the penalty – it’s not a penalty. He can’t even see the ball. And then [the player] stops in his run up. He doesn’t slow down or stutter, he stops, so they got it wrong.”
And Hill confirmed that Randall’s injury may well be a serious one.
“I think Connor Randall has done something similar to Andy Cannon – it looks as though he has a fractured cheek-bone. He’s going for x-rays & he’ll consult with Liverpool tomorrow. It’s unfortunate, because it was very, very clumsy challenge by the Bury centre-forward [Gold Omotayo].”
Watch the full interview on iFollow.