Lee Riley was “delighted” with Dale’s performance last night, after beating Bradford City 2-1 in the final Leasing.com group game.
The result saw Dale finish third in the group, above their opposition, but missed out on qualification to Bolton Wanderers and Manchester City U21’s.
However, the first team coach was full of praise for the performance put in by a young Dale squad, against a side flying high in Sky Bet Legue Two.
“We are delighted with the team,” said Riley.
“The result probably wasn’t our priority but to get the win, for the young players and the more senior ones, is very pleasing for us.
“We always try to mix the younger players with the more experienced in this competition.
“It was probably more enforced in this game, with more younger players than we would normally, given the amount of the injuries in the squad.
“Joe Dunne, coming in for his debut, was a real shining light amongst many others.
“It is easy to forget, when you come back to win the game, the penalty save from Jay Lynch at 1-0.
“The game is probably over if that penalty goes in, but regardless of the score, we weren’t too result oriented. It was about what the players could do and what character they could show.
“We knew the more experienced plyers would set an example and they did that for the younger players.
“Brian mentioned the decision, on Sunday, to take two goalkeepers of that standard. It gives us a problem at times about which one to go with, but I think it is very encouraging from Robert’s performance on Sunday and Jay’s performance last night, they are equally of a high standard which is very positive for us.”
Sunday’s FA Cup First Round game at Wrexham meant there was only a two day turnaround for Brian Barry-Murphy’s squad.
With a number of players ruled out through injury, as well as the competitions selection rules, four players started both on Sunday and last night.
Riley praised the “commitment” showed from the squad after a hard fought win over tough opposition.
He added: “Saturday is a massive game for us. We are doing our best as staff, and especially the players. Everyone can see we are quite light on numbers and that is through nobody’s fault.
“It is a bit of a freakish time through injuries. I think some of the players especially deserve a mention tonight.
“Four of them started the game on Sunday and it is pretty unheard of to go and start a game just two days later. It is normally Saturday to Tuesday but we had to call on players to go again.
“Our back four was two full backs playing at centre half and two wingers playing at full back. Two of those players played 90 minutes on Sunday.
“The commitment they showed to the cause was amazing for the whole club to see.”