Manager Robbie Stockdale reflects on Tuesday night’s draw with Exeter City and looks ahead to Rochdale’s Sky Bet League Two fixture against Exeter City, in his latest interview…
“I watched the game back and we had an incredible opportunity to win the game, and we should have done that, but as I said to the players after the match, we’re doing a lot of things right. I felt we played well, now we’ve got to take that frustration and bottle it and use it for the weekend to try to get a positive result there,” said Stockdale.
“I like that our expected goals was nearly touching five which is the highest of any team in the top four divisions all year, so we’re doing lots of positive things on the pitch, but want we to win and unfortunately we didn’t [do that on Tuesday].”
Dale had 26 shots on goal midweek and the Gaffer is looking for the side to be more clinical and take those opportunities.
“We’ve created more chances than anyone else in our league, and that’s not a slight on the forwards. It’s whoever the chances drop to - the midfielders as well or whether it’s from set-plays, we’ve got to start contributing goals from all over the pitch. I would be more worried if we weren’t doing that, I think that’s an obvious statement, but it would be lovely coming away from a game having taken all of those chances and be comfortable in it.”
Rochdale head into the match unbeaten in their last seven league games and Stockdale says that run and Tuesday night’s performance breeds confidence.
“I think we’re on a good run. We would have liked to have won a few more of those games that we’ve drawn, but it means that we’re being really competitive.
“Nearly every team we play against comes off the pitch saying what a good team we are, which is nice to get a pat on the back, but you don’t get the three points. I’d take an ugly win all day long, but we’re doing lots of things of things right on the pitch and the players are playing to a decent level but we keep pushing them to get better.
“If we can build on what we’ve been doing, use the frustration of not winning on Tuesday and take it into the weekend, then it gives us a really good opportunity.”
Exeter, too, have been on a brilliant run of form, with their 15 league game unbeaten run only coming to an end on Tuesday night, following a 3-1 defeat to Colchester United.
The Boss is expecting a tough test.
“Genuinely, anybody can beat anybody in this division, I think that’s been proven, and they’re coming here off a defeat but after 15 unbeaten prior to that.
“We’re seven [unbeaten], so it shows that we’re not a million miles away, but we’re expecting a difficult game and without doubt they’ll come here expecting a difficult game as well, so we’ve got to make sure that we’re focused and physically and mentally prepared to give them that, so that where we’re at.”
And Stockdale explains what he’d like to see more of from the players, as they look to turn draws into victories.
“I’m always demanding an improvement whether it’s technically, tactically, physically or mentally.
“We’re in a situation now where we’ve got to play our own game, especially at home where we haven’t had the results we should have, and we need to make sure it turns around to give us a chance to do something in this season, so as we step onto the pitch on Saturday, I’ll be telling the players to focus on performance.
“If we get that right (the performance), it gives us a good chance of winning the game. If we don’t perform, then we don’t deserve to get anything out of it.
On the injury front, it looks likely that Jimmy Keohane will spend a time on the sidelines after sustaining an injury to his foot in the midweek game against Stevenage, but Aaron Morley should be back involved against the Grecians.
“Jimmy K is going to see a specialist tomorrow (Friday) but first diagnosis is that it doesn’t look particularly good and he could be missing for a few weeks, but once he’s seen the specialist tomorrow, then we’ll have a better understanding.
“Jim McNulty will still be missing but he’s been out on the grass today (Thursday), as well as Sam Graham.
“Aaron Morley was training fine this morning so he’ll be available. Matty Done trained today - he’s been unwell, nothing to do with Covid, thankfully, it’s just a bug that’s going around so we will have to assess him. Aidy White might train tomorrow (Friday) but he didn’t train today.
“So, we’re down on a few bodies but obviously getting Aaron back into the squad helps with the numbers.”
Watch the Gaffer’s pre-match interview in full on the club’s YouTube channel.