Manager Robbie Stockdale says his side gave themselves “an absolute mountain to climb” after conceding two early goals in Saturday’s Sky Bet League Two fixture against Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park.
Charlie Jolley’s goals, on three and 16 minutes - proved to be the only goals of the game, despite Rochdale rallying after the initial set-back.
Opponents Tranmere currently sit second in the division and were unbeaten in eight league games heading into Saturday’s game. The Gaffer was disappointed with the way Dale started.
“I think we looked like a team for the 15/ 20 minutes that hadn’t played for a long time. We shot ourselves in the foot. I’m getting tired of reminding the players that we would be under the cosh and under pressure for the first 15 minutes. Their [Tranmere’s] tails are up - they are on a good run of form. Let’s play properly, and I don’t think we did. We gave ourselves an absolute mountain to climb, and once you do that, at a team that’s got in to the habit of winning it’s very difficult.”
After going behind, Rochdale grew into the game and were much improved as it progressed. And while Stockdale is really frustrated with the goals conceded, he says there is positives to take from the remainder of the performance.
“The goals are both avoidable, I’ve just seen them back. It’s really frustrating because nobody needs to make mistakes, that’s clear, but we knew what was coming. It wasn’t a surprise and we played into their hands. They’re a good team and when you do that, it makes is ever so difficult.
“As a positive, I thought after that the players got to task a little bit and grew into the game and in the second half we were decent without really creating an awful lot but there were some scrambles and if one of those goes in, the nerves might come into the stadium and you might sneak something. We were nice today and - I’ve just used that word to the players - I felt we had a nice performance and they were a bit more street wise than us.
“You can see at the end of the game that the players were out on their feet. The effort was there, you can’t question that, but individual errors have cost us today.”
The match was Dale’s first for 28 days due for consecutive postponements and while the Boss says that might have had a factor in the start to the game, he says he certainly won’t be using that as an excuse.
“I think you probably can [take that into account]. You certainly lose that rhythm of games. I’ll never stand here and use it as an excuse, but was a it a reason? It could be. What I would say is, take that out of their hands - play up the other side of the pitch, play in their half of the pitch for the first 10 minutes. That was the message and we didn’t [do it].
Paul Downing who signed on loan from Portsmouth on Thursday went straight into the starting eleven and Stockdale was pleased with his performance.
“Excellent, really good. I was really impressed with him. Paul looks like a proper player so that was good.
“I’m working ever so hard to get a couple more in to help us, and hopefully we’ll have some good news on that over the next two or three days.”
Watch the full interview on our YouTube channel.