WAL­SALL ROUT IS HILL’S PEAK

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By Michael Beard­more

HE HAS man­aged Rochdale to two pro­mo­tions and claimed some fa­mous vic­to­ries in two spells at Spot­land – but Keith Hill said this maul­ing of League One lead­ers Wal­sall topped the lot.

The Sad­dlers had won five on the spin – three un­der new boss Sean O’Driscoll – to reach the sum­mit but were com­pletely played off the park by Hill’s men.

Calvin An­drew bagged a sec­ond-half dou­ble af­ter Ian Hen­der­son’s early opener to move Dale six points off the play-offs and leave Hill purring.

He said: “It was an un­be­liev­able per­for­mance. I don’t think it was due to Wal­sall be­ing off-colour – we were just ab­so­lutely su­perb in the ex­e­cu­tion of our game plan.

“It was as stand-out a per­for­mance, in­di­vid­u­ally and col­lec­tively, as I have man­aged.

“Any team com­ing up against us would have strug­gled be­cause we were ex­cel­lent in ev­ery depart­ment.

“I re­mem­ber beat­ing Southamp­ton away 2-0 when they were in League One, but to come here and per­form as we did – that’s as good as it gets.

“We ab­so­lutely dom­i­nated the League One lead­ers and it could quite eas­ily have been five or six. We could evolve into a very, very good side.

“The top six is our am­bi­tion. Are we ca­pa­ble? Yes. But we have to make sure we don’t make the mis­takes we have made too reg­u­larly in the first half of the sea­son.”

Hill also be­lieves Wal­sall will stay the course de­spite this de­feat, which saw League One’s joint mean­est de­fence at the start of play fall apart early on.

Rochdale twice al­most went ahead in the first minute but Hen­der­son’s clever 30-yard lob was foiled by Neil Etheridge’s fin­ger­tips and An­drew’s half-vol­ley flashed just over.

The open­ing goal did not take long to ar­rive, though, as Hen­der­son swept home im­pres­sive full-back An­drew Can­non’s low cross three min­utes in.

From there, only Etheridge kept Wal­sall in the game as he foiled a low Can­non strike and, early in the sec­ond half, made an­other crack­ing fin­ger­tip stop from a de­flected An­drew shot.

The Philip­pines in­ter­na­tional also made fine saves to deny Hen­der­son and Donal McDer­mott but An­drew’s dou­ble en­sured Dale ran out de­served win­ners.

He made it 2-0 just be­fore the hour with a glanc­ing header from Can­non’s cor­ner and tucked home McDer­mott’s cross for Dale’s third 13 min­utes from time.

Wal­sall failed to reg­is­ter a shot on tar­get in the en­tire game and were knocked off top spot as O’Driscoll’s per­fect start to life in the hotseat was shat­tered. He said: “Credit to Rochdale. They were dy­namic and they are a phys­i­cally big team who asked us a lot of ques­tions and we strug­gled to find the an­swers.

“It was one of those games where if we started it again, we would prob­a­bly ap­proach it a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent and the play­ers would have a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of what they needed to do.”

PIC­TURES: Will Kilpatrick

BEATEN ALL HENDS UP: Ian Hen­der­son opens the scor­ing for Rochdale

GET IN: Calvin An­drew, left, beats Wal­sall keeper Neil Etheridge to make it 3-0

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