Manager Keith Hill gives his post-match reaction to his side’s 5-1 defeat to Plymouth Argyle at Home Park…
Argyle went into the half-time with only a 1-0 lead thanks to a string of fine saves by Andy Lonergan, and Matty Done equalised early in the second half as Dale went on the ascendancy. But the turning point in the game came when Ethan Ebanks-Landell was shown a red card in the 58th minute, and the hosts went on to net a further four goals as they took advantage of their extra man.
“They were better in the first half, there’s no question about that,” said Hill.
“Even although we didn’t win on Tuesday, I was pleased with the way that we played, but it was non-evident in the first half today with respect to what we planned to do and how we planned to do it.
“We keep tripping ourselves up when we get a bit of a grip of the game. The game lasts 90 minutes – the first half is finished and we’re 1-0 down. I made the changes at half-time because I wasn’t getting what I needed from the group of players that we had worked with after Tuesday to continue the attacking football.
“Matty Done had two great chances in the first half and then the game changes on the substitutions and Doney scoring that goal, but then it changes again when Ethan gets sent off.
“Andy Lonergan kept us in the game in the first half and it [the scoreline] is hard on him because he has done superb in the first half.
“We should have had a stonewall penalty [for the challenge on Rory Holden] when it’s 1-0 and I don’t know why it isn’t given. I have reservations about that referee, I’ve had them for a long time since we were in League Two. Chesterfield away, for example, and the ghost goal.
“I can’t, however, argue or disagree with Ethan Ebanks-Landell’s sending off. He has handballed it and he probably is the last man so I have no complaints.
“But for them to take the free-kick where they did, even although the fourth official is telling the referee that it should be 10-yards further back, but he only moves it two-yards back. As a consequence of the melee, there’s a definite handball which leads to them scoring their second goal. Their third goal is bad mistake by Ryan Delaney, which happens when we’re in the situation that we’re in, and after that it’s freedom football.”
He continued: “Plymouth are a good side but I’m really disappointed with the first half performance – there didn’t seem to be a lot of courage, fight or a continuation of what I saw on Tuesday night.
“I wouldn’t say we imploded but it was there for everyone to see - Plymouth and the way they played with their extra man on a beautiful pitch. They are impressive when they are like that.
“That’s the way it goes sometimes. You keep on getting kicked and getting kicked again, and unfortunately when you’re down there and you’re playing against opponents who have an extra man, are 2-1 up and they’ve been given another lift, it can be soul destroying from our point of view and it probably was in the second half today.
“These things happen and we’ve got to deal with it. We know where we are – we’re struggling in League One. We’re trying our best to keep our heads above water but it looks as though, on evidence, that we’re resigned to relegation. So don’t fear it, embrace it, accept it, challenge it in the 12 games that we’ve got and go against it. Realise that it [relegation] is more than a possibility and take it on.
“I know I can rattle people’s cages – I’m only ambitious. League One is getting the better of us financially and player wise. You can’t keep selling your players to the devil and expect to be dancing with God. Once you sell your players to the devil you dance to his tune. I’m not blaming anybody – that’s the economics of football and it has been for that last 113 years at the Club. It’s a hard fight at this moment in time.”
He added: “The fans are superb – they support the team, they support the players and the Football Club – and they were tremendous today. The distances that they travel – they are stalwarts and the lifeblood of this Football Club.”
Watch the full interview on iFollow.