Manager Keith Hill reflects on his side’s 1-1 draw with Fleetwood Town at the Crown Oil Arena…
“There was a contrast to the halves,” said Hill as he reflected on the match.
“I thought we looked void of any ideas or confidence in the first half and I think we failed to express ourselves in the manner that the players can, but I thought it improved after half-time and I’m pleased with the second half performance.
“We gave the ball away too much to the opponent in the first half and I thought it was difficult in midfield. They out-numbered us in midfield so it was important that we got a strong-hold in possession. From their goalkeeper’s kicks, we headed it back to them instead of controlling it and we should have got into wide areas of the pitch quicker, like we did in the second half, so it was difficult in the first half.
“I hope the second half allows the players to grow in confidence and reminds them that they are good players. I also hope it reminds them that they shouldn’t get too bogged down mentally about the tactics of the game. Go and play, go and enjoy yourself and go and express yourself.
“Hopefully that has stopped the rot so we can move forward. I’m sat here relatively pleased with a lot of the aspects.”
16-year-old Luke Matheson made his debut, coming on as half-time substitute against the Cod Army.
“I needed to make the change at half-time. We need to get a left-back – that’s a priority. That’s no detriment to Doney. He’s finding it hard at the moment, like a lot of the players have been, confidence wise.
“I was reluctant to make the change because when you’re struggling and you put a 16-year-old on, it’s almost like you’re hiding the problems that you’ve got, but Luke is an excellent player and I thought it was the right thing to do. He’s an accomplished right-back, even although he’s only 16.
“I’ve seen managers hide being the introduction of young players. Trust me, that’s not my intentions. I thought it was right to play him. We’ve been trying to nurture him amd we can’t hide him anymore, but I’ve also got to protect him like I have with Dan. We’re talking about special players here and I’ve got to protect them like a parent would – that’s physically, mentally and against the extremities of the game.
“I think I had my parent head on before the game by not selecting him to start, but the game was probably there for him to take by the scruff of the neck in the second half. He’s a player who is free to express himself by not being tarred with any bad experiences within football, and that’s what I the players to do. I want them to express themselves in that manner and in the manner that they did in the second half.
“There will still be mistakes, we’ll lose duals and still won’t win games, but I wanted to see the players express themselves in the way I know they can and in the way I want to play the game in attack. This is not about tactics – the players have got to not think too hard about the tactics of the game and think more about the spontaneity of the way that they played when they were Luke’s age.”
The hosts were reduced to 10 men in the 53rd minute, when Lewie Coyle was sent off for a foul on Joe Rafferty.
“Regardless of the opponents’ staff, it’s not my fault that he's been sent off. Personally, I thought it was a good tackle. For the referee not to indicate even a foul at that point, I find it difficult to see how he has actually got to a red card decision. I’d have to look back at it again, but my feeling at the time was that it was a full-blooded challenge and the referee saw it to that way, so I’m not too sure what changed his mind. But it’s not my fault that he got sent off – I’ve not been chirping away at the referee or the fourth official all game. I try to manage my technical area and keep my counsel – I don’t let the opponents’ dug out or technical area affect me.”
Paddy Madden put the visitors in front in the first-half, while Ian Henderson nodded home Stephen Dooley’s cross midway through the half to put Dale on level terms.
“Paddy Madden is a ghost. We’ve defended the first phase of the set-play really well and it comes from the second phase. He’s like Charlie Austin when crosses are coming into the box – he’s a very similar type player. Whatever standard you’re playing at, there are similarities with respect to goal scorers and he found himself to be a ghost. As much as you try to pre-warn and tactically warn of the opponents, they seem to find that space. He’s an excellent goal scoring striker and he’s a magnet as well as being a ghost in the box, but you’re always disappointed and we should have done better. They [the opposition] will also be disappointed with the goal they’ve conceded.”
Watch the full interview on iFollow.