Cause for op­ti­mism de­spite Dale de­feat

Manchester Evening News - - SPORT - By RICHARD PARTINGTON

AN im­proved per­for­mance against play-off chas­ing Peter­bor­ough of­fered Rochdale boss Keith Hill some wel­come cause for op­ti­mism.

Though Dale fell to their fourth suc­ces­sive League One de­feat as they suf­fered a 2-1 loss, they at least avoided a heavy drub­bing and con­tested this game at Lon­don Road, where United loa­nee Ethan Hamil­ton scored a late con­so­la­tion on his de­but for Hill’s side.

Peter­bor­ough dom­i­nated in a first half which saw Daniel Laf­ferty’s shot cleared off the line be­fore an un­marked Ryan Tafa­zolli fluffed a free header.

But Rochdale posed more of an at­tack­ing threat in the sec­ond half as they were de­nied by a se­ries of mag­nif­i­cent late saves from Aaron Chap­man.

The Posh keeper twice saved from Dale sub­sti­tute Brad In­man be­fore spec­tac­u­larly keep­ing out a thump­ing Jim Mc­Nulty strike at the sec­ond at­tempt.

Those con­tri­bu­tions proved cru­cial as the home side dou­bled their lead when sub­sti­tute Ge­orge Cooper guided in a smart fin­ish from a Mar­cus Mad­di­son pass.

Chap­man was pow­er­less to pre­vent Hamil­ton mark­ing his de­but with a long-range shot in the 90th minute, but Posh held on in a nervy fin­ish.

“We’ve been con­ced­ing a lot of goals and con­fi­dence is at a min­i­mum but, hope­fully, there will be a pos­i­tive bounce now,” said Hill.

“I can gal­vanise and I can get some­thing out of that game when I look at the play­ers I’m get­ting in.

“Over­all, I’m happy with the per­for­mance of some play­ers and the way that the play­ers are grow­ing.

“We’re play­ing an 18-game sea­son now and we’ve got to make sure that we come up with a bat­tle­plan like last sea­son, which we have done.”

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