Keith Hill speaks of Dale anticipation before Spurs game

Date published: 16 February 2018

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Speaking ahead of one of the biggest games in Rochdale AFC's history, against Tottenham Hotspur in the fifth round of the FA Cup, manager Keith Hill spoke of the sense of anticipation in the Dale camp. 

Rochdale Online caught up with Hill at the Platt Lane Sports Complex Centre where Rochdale train three times a week, as he talked about his game plan for the upcoming match.

Jimmy McNulty, Ian Henderson and Matt Done were also in attendance, along with chairman Chris Dunphy.

Hill said: “To get through to the quarter finals will be an amazing achievement because it will be the first time in the club’s history.

“Playing at Wembley was always highly unlikely – we want to win on home soil. We can afford an extra game however we do not want one, but would I take a replay? Yes, all day, every day.

“The Premier League brings a lot of money in for football, but we are a League One team and therefore we are going with a league one game plan. The money means a lot, but I am more bothered about ensuring the existence of this club.

“Our long-term plan is continuous success and development of the players.

“These Rochdale players deserve the opportunity to play against Tottenham. They are capable of making good decisions in the time provided and have all the skills they need.

“Tottenham are very fortunate to have Harry Kane. He is possibly one of the best strikers in the world and has always got a work ethic in his game, but as long as the Dale team are making good decisions in the time given then we have a chance."

When asked to comment about the condition of the pitch at the Crown Oil Arena after weeks of it being in an unfit state to play on, the Dale manager said: “The pitch has definitely hindered us rather than helped us.

“We have invested heavily in a new surface which should be fitting for Tottenham and ourselves alike and the club has done superbly well in ensuring that the pitch will be ready for Sunday.

“The pitch had not been good enough for the majority of the season and we have had too many games that have been postponed. Something needed to be done and it would have been done whether we got through to this Tottenham fixture or not.

“We laid this new pitch for the League One campaign and for the future of the football club. It was not laid for Tottenham.

“There is no problem with it now, it is a very good surface. The turf is superb and should stand in good stead for the remainder of the season and probably beyond.”

Matt Done, added: “We briefly saw the pitch for the first time yesterday and I must say it looks better already and we still have three days for it to improve.”

Hill said he felt overwhelmed that the match completely sold out. He commented: “There is excitement obviously within and around the stadium, but we try to keep control of the players so we can create a game plan. We are trying do things as we normally would do and trying to win.

“We have been looking at the Tottenham squad and the potential changes they will make for the FA Cup, so we are  game planning and focusing on trying to win a football match.”

He concluded saying: “We are not really a well supported site with a massive fan base, so it came as a shock when the tickets sold out. We are just grateful and feel privileged that people have gone this extra mile for Sunday’s game.”

Calvin Andrew will miss the game on Sunday due to an injury to his Achilles.


Manager Keith Hill and Rochdale AFC players speaking to the media about the forthcoming FA Cup game against Tottenham Hotspur
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