Hill’s worst day
THE worst day in Keith Hill’s long association with Rochdale Football Club.
That’s how the manager described Saturday’s 4-0 defeat against Burton with the low point coming not at the end of the contest, but rather the halfway stage. Dale trailled by two goals at the interval, having struggled to impose themselves on the game, and there were a number of supporters booing, particularly in the Main Stand.
Hill took exception to this as his confidenceshot players made their way towards the tunnel, making a pointed gesture of support for the team.
As he later suggested, it wasn’t toxic – but it was a far from pleasant atmosphere.
“I felt it was important that I encourage the players,” explained Hill.
“I think that was the worst experience that I’ve had, personally, during my time here as a player, coach and manager. Definitely.
“I was trying to give some encouragement to the players, having been a player myself and knowing what it’s like – you can’t see the next pass, you are trying but it’s misguided, you start doing things you shouldn’t do which leads to more problems and it’s difficult for them players and I just wanted to support them the best I can.”
The performance improved after the break and Dale deserved some kind of lifeline in the contest. But the game was up in the 78th minute when Liam Boyce scored and there was yet time for Marcus Myers Harness to complete his hat-trick.
There were five changes to Hill’s starting line-up with Magnus Norman, Kgosi Ntlhe, Dan Adshead and Aaron Morley dropping to the bench while Harrison McGahey had departed the club the day previous for Scunthorpe.
In came Josh Lillis, Joe Rafferty, Jordan Williams, Brad Inman and Matty Gillam.
Inman had the first opening of the afternoon, getting in behind the Burton backline wide on the right, his attempt to clip the ball past Bradley Collins into the far corner drifting across the face of goal with the on-loan Chelsea goalkeeper beaten.
Burton’s first chance came about when David Templeton’s cross from the left picked out Lucas Akins and his header was only narrowly off target.
In an even opening 15 minutes it appeared Dale had shaken off the ill effects of heavy defeats in their previous two matches, Gillam’s infield run from the left ending with a dipping effort a yard wide of the post.
Templeton and Akins teamed up again to good effect in the 16th minute, Templeton’s intelligent pass splitting the Rochdale defence and sending Akins through on goal, the frontman unable to pick out the bottom corner of the net.
The Brewers were ahead in the 18th minute, an inswinging corner flicked on by Jake Buxton and forced over the line by Myers-Harness at point blank range.
Dale came close to levelling ten minutes later when a fine move saw Ian Henderson and Gillam tee up Jordan Williams for a shot at target ten yards from goal, Collins blocking the effort with his legs.
But Burton raced down the field and doubled their lead with the next attack, Akins laying the ball off for Myers-Harness to fire a left-footed shot from 20 yards wide of Lillis and into the net.
Scott Fraser almost had a third, crashing a rising drive into the supporters behind the goal at the Sandy Lane end while Callum Camps and Rafferty both saw shots charged down by the Burton backline.
●●Marcus Myers-Harness scored a hat-trick against Dale at the weekend
●●Keith Hill described Saturday as the worst he’s experienced in all his years at Rochdale