Dale geared up for Gateshead
KEITH Hill has warned his side that today’s FA Cup opponents Gateshead will be out to write their own fairy tale – at Rochdale’s expense.
Dale captured the imagination of football fans the length and breadth of the country in last year’s competition, taking Premier League giants Tottenham to a fifth round replay at Wembley.
This season’s competition starts this afternoon so far as Dale are concerned, when they take on the National League side at the Crown Oil Arena in the first round.
“It can be magic, the FA Cup, and it can also really hurt you, it can really punch you in the stomach – that’s the beauty of the FA Cup,” he said.
“For every emotional rollercoaster and fairytale dream we had last season, there’s someone who falls by the wayside, and many league clubs have done it before, so we’ve got to be very careful at the weekend.
“We have to plan, prepare, then perform, and be ambitious in our performance.”
Hill insists his side must approach the game with an underdog mentality, despite facing a side from two levels below them.
“We’re looking forward to it, we’re well prepared, we’ve got to be the underdogs for the game, there’s no question about that,” he said.
“We’ve got to treat the FA Cup, and the opponents in the FA Cup, with respect. We’re prepared for whatever the opposition bring to the table, and we’re prepared ourselves in what we do best.
“I’m just looking for an honest performance from the players.”
Hill is under no illusions as to why Dale have enjoyed success in the competition in recent years – and he’ll be looking for the same qualities today.
“Honesty, respect, and making sure we don’t underestimate the opponents,” he said.
“You can’t go into the game expecting to win, you’ve got to prove that you’re a winner.
“You’ve got to wear your heart on your sleeve, but use your brain as well, with the combination of the two, with our experience in League One and previous cup runs, hopefully it will be enough.
“It doesn’t matter the standard of whichever team you come from in the FA Cup. We took Tottenham, we drew in one and a half games all the way with Tottenham, we were winning one half, we drew the second half and we drew the first half.”
Looking ahead to Dale’s chances in the tie, Hill said: “It’s a good opportunity for us to progress, but they’ll see it as an opportunity; we do not underestimate any opponents.
“We’re well prepared. We’ve got to fight for every ball, every opportunity that presents itself is a challenge on that pitch, we’ve got to be winners.
“That’s the small detail that the players have to take care of, and we’ve got to show our little bit of quality.
“I do believe we’ve got better quality than the opponents over 46 games, for example.
“On an FA Cup fixture, I know a lot of their players, and respect to them, they come from the football league pyramid, and they’ll be up for it; there’s no question about that.
“We have to be better than up for it against this team.”
●●Keith Hill’s side face Gateshead at home in the first round of the FA Cup