Con­fi­dence key to com­pet­ing

Middleton Guardian - - SPORT -

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

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