Manager Jim Bentley on Dale’s 2-2 draw with Salford City in the Papa John’s Trophy, a game which the Ammies won the shootout 4-2…
“I’m very pleased with certain aspects of our play. I think there are areas for improvement as always, but we put the negatives to one side,” said the Gaffer.
“We made a few changes - some of the players did look like they lacked games but that’s why we needed to get them up to speed. We’re coming into a busy period and at any time they’re going to have to step in and be at the top of their game with minutes under their belts to go and affect the game that they play in, so it was important for that reason.
“They’ve made a few changes, too. When you look at how good Salford are with the ball, I think they’ve got the highest possession count in the division. They get the ball at the back and they play out, so we covered up in certain areas and we looked to nick and break. I don’t think we had a touch for the first five minutes and then suddenly we got the first break on them. We got in and Connor Malley has put it over the bar, and it looked like he really should hit the target at least.
“A lot of the things we discussed beforehand and that we went through played out as we thought. It was quite an exciting game. We got the lead and it was pretty pleasing the way it was going. Coming into the second half, we had a spell of five/ ten minutes where we were right on top. You go into the second half and the confidence is coming, and the crowd were up, and we had a couple of opportunities where we were testing the ‘keeper, then we were getting it back and we were going again.
“Then they made the changes and I thought their changes were excellent. Five subs came on who were all mainliners/ players who have been playing and that gave them an injection. We made our changes and we just slightly tweaked the shape in the middle of the park and for the next 10 minutes we didn’t get to grips with it and they ultimately scored two goals which cost us at that stage of the game, having been 1-0 up.
“It was probably that little bit of inexperience in the middle of the park with Ethan Brierley and Connor Malley once Toums [Toumani Diagouraga] had come off. We went a little bit more attack minded up front with Hendo [Ian Henderson] and Quigs [Scott Quigley] but we ended up 4-2-4 at times and they knew how to cut through us, and that’s what they did. I’ll have to look at the goals again, but I was disappointed with how easy it was to dribble through us and get a shot off from the edge of our box, certainly for the first one. The second one looked like a quality finish from the lad, but, again, I’ve not seen it back, so I can’t really comment. That spell in the game was disappointing where we let them get back on top and we didn’t cover up or protect the central areas which we did in the first half.
“And then obviously Quigs come off injured and Liam Kelly goes on and we go back to our original shape and I thought we looked better for it again, so once we did that, what was pleasing was the attitude and desire of the players when they were 2-1 down. I thought we showed plenty of determination to drag the game back and we kept asking questions. We then scored a fantastic goal to take it to penalties so I’m pleased in the regard that we drew the game 2-2 having been 2-1 down. But it’s disappointing that when we were 1-0 up we did’t go two up and I’m disappointed with that ten minute spell when they brought their mainliners/ big hitters on and we didn’t cover up particularly well. But there’s loads to be positive about, as well as a couple of negatives in their too.
“We want to win, we haven’t won, and we’ve been beaten on penalties again like in the Accrington game. We’re unbeaten in the competition but we lose two penalty shootouts, so that’s disappointing as well. But like I say, there’s plenty to be pleased with, there are plenty of positives and it’s going to be a good game for us to look back on and see where we can do better.”
And Bentley confirmed that Scott Quigley was forced off due to a groin problem.
“It looked like he planted his foot a little awkwardly when he was tracking back. Again, maybe it went down to the shape of the team because we took Toums off who knows the role and knows how to hold the middle ground. We just looked a little bit open and suddenly there’s a counter on us and Quigs, who is honest, is going to work back.
“It just looked like as the lad twisted he planted his foot awkwardly and he’s tweaked his groin. We’ll have to see how bad it is - he’s a big player for us so fingers crossed he’ll back sooner rather than later but we’ll have to wait and see when he gets assessed either tomorrow [Wednesday] or Thursday.”
Watch the full interview on YouTube.