Dale geared up for Gateshead

Rochdale Observer - - SCHOOL NEWS FAITH NEWS -

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.”

Vin­cent Cole

●●Keith Hill’s side face Gateshead at home in the first round of the FA Cup

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