Hill takes swipe at cash-rich Wigan...
AFTER building up a head of second-half steam to knock the stuffing out of Southend, Rochdale manager Keith Hill was quick to switch his attentions to landing a blow to Wigan’s title charge on Easter Monday.
Having struggled to find top gear in the opening half, with Grant Holt hauling them level after Jack Payne’s opener, Dale came out swinging after the restart with goals for Joe Rafferty, Jamie Allen and Joe Bunney.
The victory moves Rochdale to within two points of the play-offs and Hill was quick to taunt second-placed Wigan over their superior financial muscle ahead of tomorrow’s showdown.
“Let’s be honest,Wigan have a Championship budget and they should be walking this league by a country mile,” he said.
“I have a lot of respect for them as a club but we’ll go there with a fighter’s chance.We have players who can deliver knockout punches and that’s our intention.
“It wasn’t a great spectacle in the first half against Southend because we didn’t have much penetration, but in the second half I’d say it was total dominance.
“I wouldn’t have minded if it’d been a narrow 2-1 win with a scruffy second goal and a bad performance because that could potentially have happened after that first half.
“But for the players to respond to our instruc- tions at half-time in the manner they did was absolutely superb, it was a tremendous second half.”
Southend took a surprise lead after 28 minutes when Payne chipped past Josh Lillis, only for the home side to level four minutes before the interval as Holt stabbed home.
Rochdale assumed control on 49 minutes when Rafferty stroked home Donal McDermott’s centre, while shortly after the hour mark Jimmy McNulty provided the ammunition for captain Allen to finish with a low drive before Bunney sealed matters in stoppage time.
“The season is petering out into nothing,” said Southend manager Phil Brown.“It’s been a bright season, we’ve been hanging onto the shirt tails of the playoffs but I think our play-off hopes are 100 per cent gone now.
“I’m very disappointed with the performance – the performance without the ball more than anything else.
“We got the first goal and silenced the crowd but couldn’t see the game out.
“It was unacceptable defending for the second, third and fourth goals – a poor day at the office.
“Harsh words have been spoken in that dressing room.
“The changing room lacks a little bit of fight sometimes.”
STAR MAN DONAL MCDER