That one’s for Joe, says Dale boss Hill

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

ROCHDALE man­ager Keith Hill ded­i­cated his side’s com­pre­hen­sive vic­tory over Gilling­ham to Joe Thomp­son.

Mid­fielder Thomp­son an­nounced in the week that his can­cer has sadly re­turned and Natha­nial Men­dez-Laing’s open­ing goal was cel­e­brated by hold­ing up a ‘Thomp­son’ jer­sey.

And af­ter Ian Hen­der­son, Cal­lum Camps and Peter Vin­centi’s goals saw off the Gills, Hill’s thoughts were straight on to the 28-year-old.

He said: “That win was for Joe Thomp­son. We’ve had to try to keep coun­sel and keep a lid on it – it’s been a very emo­tional sea­son and an emo­tional 2017 for me.

“Joe was at my father’s funeral re­cently and that was very emo­tional. He is very close to me per­son­ally and to the rest of the play­ers and he is part of the fam­ily here.

“You have to put your emo­tions aside when you are work­ing be­cause mod­ern-day so­ci­ety dic­tates that all that re­ally matters is that we won the game.

“The de­feat against Ox­ford United here was the last time we played badly.”

Men­dez-Laing gave Dale an early lead as he beat a de­fender and fired an un­stop­pable shot into the top cor­ner be­fore the team’s fit­ting cel­e­bra­tion.

Josh Parker tapped into an empty net af­ter his header re­bounded off the post to bring the Gills level.

Cody McDon­ald and Hen­der­son saw chances saved and re­bound off the post re­spec­tively be­fore the lat­ter’s sub­lime chip re­gained the lead.

Men­dez-Laing hit the wood­work but he turned provider to great ef­fect in the sec­ond half, leav­ing Camps with the easy job of smash­ing in from three yards.

Zesh Rehman was sent off for a sec­ond yel­low card mid­way through the sec­ond pe­riod for a high lunge on Men­dez-Laing, be­fore Vin­centi came off the bench to seal the game, leav­ing Gills boss Adrian Pen­nock frus­trated with his side’s poor de­fend­ing.

He said: “The goals we con­ceded were very poor. The un­der-12 team could de­fend bet­ter at the mo­ment.

“We’re giv­ing teams goals and a leg up. Again, it was an early goal. We re­sponded well and maybe could’ve scored to go 2-1, up but the sec­ond goal is just not good enough.

“I don’t think I’ve been able to put out the same back three or four each week since I’ve got here and that does mess things up a bit.

“We had a few words in the dress­ing room and we move on but I’m un­be­liev­ably dis­ap­pointed, that was a poor per­for­mance.”

STAR MAN NATHANIEL MEN­DEZ-LAING Rochdale

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