That one’s for Joe, says Dale boss Hill
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