Manager Robbie Stockdale’s post-match thoughts on Dale’s Emirates FA Cup first round replay victory over Notts County…
“It was really tough, a really difficult game,” said the Gaffer.
“We saw in the first tie at our place that they’re a very good team. They have a way of playing and they made it very difficult for us, but I thought we were excellent in the first half. It was almost exactly what I wanted from us as the away team. We changed our tactics in terms of setting up a press in the mid part of the pitch, and from the goalkeeper’s kicks we though we could step on and we nearly got a couple of opportunities from that.
“We limited them to little - a long shot that hit the bar. Jay’s saying he saved it but I’m not sure he did, but we’ll give him it. Then he made a really good save down at his near post, but, apart from that, coming away from home, we didn’t really feel threatened and we created some really good opportunities on the break. It was a good goal by Josh.
“We knew they’d come onto us in the second half and to be fair to Notts County, for 20 minutes they put us under the pump a little bit and that’s where I asked my young players to try and step up and accept the challenge and, on the whole, I think they did.
“It’s obviously great to get a late winner again. Since I’ve been here, we’ve been on the receiving end of them and everybody tells me that’s the Rochdale way and all the rest of it, but we’ve scored two goals in two games late on to get a draw and a win - let’s make that the Rochdale way.”
Josh Andrews put Rochdale ahead on 15 minutes, but the Magpies equalised shortly after the hour mark. Jake Beesley headed home at the death to send Rochdale into the second round of the competition.
Stockdale was pleased with how the players kept going right until the end.
“They’re really honest. I don’t want to bleat on about how young we are, but in terms of young players, they’ll make mistakes but they won’t let us down. With their effort, they’re not letting us down, so it was pleasing.
“The substitutes came on and they made a massive impact on the game as well and they freshened it up. I’m stood here really pleased that we’re into the next round. From what our club has been through over the last three or four months, to have a game on TV against good opposition [is fantastic]. It’ll be a really difficult game against Plymouth and it’s something we can go into with a lot of excitement.”
Tuesday night was Andrews’ first start for Dale since August, after a hamstring injury kept him out for all of October and much of November so far. He made his return to the squad at the weekend, coming off the bench in Rochdale’s 2-2 draw with Leyton Orient.
“Josh has been stop/ start with us. He had Covid when he first came in and he was always chasing fitness, and then unfortunately he had a really bad hamstring injury.
“He had an impact coming off the bench at the weekend and he’s had an impact starting tonight. I decided to take him off to protect him because we can’t have him breaking down again and missing weeks, because he’s an important player like everybody is.
“He took his goal really well and you can see, it goes without saying, that he’s a physical presence on the pitch for us and I think that maybe takes a little bit of heat off Jake [Beesley] and the other forwards that play alongside him. He’ll be chuffed to bits with that and we are with him.”
A game live on ITV against Plymouth Argyle now awaits Dale in the second round. The match will be played at the Crown Oil Arena on Sunday 5th December, 12.15pm KO.
“We’ve got some league games before then. I think this little run that we’re on, and I don’t want to take away the Papa John’s Trophy game because I expect all the players that play to put on a performance but there were a lot of changes that night. And [with the exception of that result] we’re on a decent run of form.
“I’ve said all along, it’s going to take everybody and you can see that today with the squad and the substitutes that made an impact. The fans were unbelievable coming away on a Tuesday night to support us and staying until the end. We just want to kick on if we can and the feeling in the group is really good.”
Watch the Boss’ interview in full on the club's YouTube channel.