Confidence key to competing
CONFIDENCE is key in Rochdale’s attempt to up their points per game ratio and start edging up towards the top half of League One.
Dale were beaten 3-1 at home by league leaders Portsmouth on Saturday and were due to face Bristol Rovers on Tuesday evening as the Guardian went to press.
And Keith Hill wants his side to abandon any fear when taking on the division’s big guns, reminding his players that they have battled – and beaten – the big clubs before.
“We’re ten games in with eleven points, we have to convert more points per game ratio,” he said. “We know that now, we knew it at the begin- ning of the season and the end of last season, so the players don’t need to be reminded of how to win games. They just need the confidence to put it into practice and I am sure it will come.
“I was watching the Coventry against Sunderland game earlier on Saturday and not too long ago that was a Premier League game! The commentators said that League One is getting really difficult and we have played some very good opposition and there is more to come.
“We shouldn’t fear this league and we shouldn’t be saying ‘well, we’ve been beaten by Portsmouth or by millionaire’s row Peterborough or Sunderland, with one player costing the whole of our budget.
“We should be competing against these clubs, we are in League One and we’ve done it before. But it’s getting very difficut because it is like a who’s who – a lot of these sides are Championship teams playing in League One and some of them, if not a third of them, have played in the Premier League if you look at the Barnsleys, the Charltons, the Coventrys, Sunderland, Portsmouth, Bradford and a few more as well. So we are doing well to retain our League One status and we are hell bent on doing it again this season.”
Aaron Wilbraham handed Dale a great start when he fired home a goal of the season contender after just three minutes.
But after levelling midway through the first half, Pompey scored twice in the last 20 minutes to secure victory.
Hill accepted that the high-flying opposition were the better side on the day, citing their ability to make better footballing decisions as key to the outcome.
“Portsmouth make good footballing decisions on the pitch, they have the experience, good leadership qualities and the difference between the two sides was their decision-making on the pitch,” he said.
“They are a good side. I thought we played some nice stuff at times but I am disappointed with the result and a little disappointed with didn’t push on having taken the lead.
“You have to respect your opponent and sometimes you can’t stop an opponent. If they are better than you it’s very difficult. There wasn’t any lack of work rate, energy, honesty or endeavour, I just feel they were probably better than using every department and there is no shame in that.
“It’s up to the players to learn and develop with respect to playing against the likes of Brett Pitman, he is an excellent player, he always has been, and he knows where the goal is.
“I knew for most of the week that he was going to play and for Ryan Delaney, he has got to learn from these games, from the players he’s playing against and he’s got to learn quickly because we are conceding goals and the bottom line is teams are not scoring goals from their penalty area, they are scoring goals in our penalty area, so it is up to our defenders to defend better and make better decisions.
“Their second goal really disappointed me because it started in the opponent’s own half and we should be doing better as a front four or three to stop that situation developing. But you can’t take anything away from Pitman’s finish.
“So I am disappoint but I will stick to the task in hand and that is to try to breathe a little bit of life and confidence into the players and take it into Tuesday’s game.”
Rochdale Mayfield’s North West Men’s League side celebrate winning the Division 1 championship. See page 40