Manager Keith Hill has praised the performance levels of his players, following their display against Barnsley at Oakwell.
“I thought the performance levels were decent. We took an excellent side, one of the best in the league, all the way. They had to work hard for their victory,” said Hill.
“The first half is the fight. That’s the early rounds of a boxing match, almost, and it was good for us to be competitive. I love the way the opposition play and I love the way that they take the ball – the centre halves are happy in a 2v2 or a 3v2. They are always on the front foot and we had to stand up against that. I think that that’s the jostle where you are working each other out.
“We then took the lead but it’s a great finish from Kieffer Moore for their first goal. We probably should have done better on the turn over in that situation and again with the second goal, but listen, Barnsley are going to do what they’ve done to us on a regular basis in League One because they are a very good side. But I’m looking into the future at our performance, not the result, and think that we can play like that and win games, we can play like that and not lose games, and we can play like that and improve against some of the opposition that are not as good as Barnsley.
“I’m disappointed with the result but I’m not disappointed with the performance. I believe that we’re turning the corner into being a better side which will give us a chance of surviving relegation.
“I think the players will get some belief from that performance. The result is a difficult one to accept but we will do because we have to move on.”
Ryan McLaughlin, who joined Dale on a permanent deal from Blackpool on Wednesday made his debut in the fixture, playing 75 minutes against the Tykes, securing his first game time since November.
“Ryan ran out of steam. He hasn’t played for a long while, so he’s got to get fitter. His energy levels were down and we didn’t want to run him into an injury.
“We have Luke Matheson who is an excellent player and he came on. I’m really impressed with him and I’m really impressed with his mentality. I’ve got no concerns playing him because of his mentality. He’s more than a football player, he has a rounded personality and a street-wise character who just loves playing football.”
Next up for Dale is a trip to Walsall’s Banks’s Stadium on Saturday and Hill says he takes “hope and encouragement” from the performance at Barnsley into the week.
“Tough times call for tough people. It has been worse than this at Rochdale, although probably not while I’ve been in charge. It’s tough, but you’ve got to put that stick on smile on and you’ve got to look at what you’ve got, what you’ve done and what you intend to do, and be proud, be really on the front foot and be optimistic about it.
“There’s no point in sulking or reflecting too much, you’ve got to drive into the next game, and that’s what we’ll we do this week. We’ll try to improve during the week so that we get a better result next week. I thought the performance levels today were somewhere near where I needed them to be and that’s what gives me hope and encouragement. It should give the supporters and everybody connected with the football club encouragement.
“When you come off the pitch and you’ve been beaten, for your supporters to still be applauding you, it shows that they were, I suppose, impressed with the performance and endeavour of the players, and that’s a sign that the players haven’t let the Club or themselves down. That, for me, is the telltale sign that we are improving and that there’s optimism going into the next game.”
Watch the Gaffer’s post-match interview in full on iFollow.