Eyes on survival: Hill says high-flying Rochdale’s priority is League status

Rochdale AFC manager Keith Hill wants his team to focus on surviving the season in League One, despite climbing into the play-off places following their 3-0 win over Preston North End on Saturday.

Goals from Jack O’Connell, Ian Henderson and Matthew Done secured the points for Dale in front of a jubilant crowd at Spotland Stadium, ending the visitors’ eight-match winning run.

Hill is determined not to get carried away with his side’s current success, and is aware that keeping everyone’s feet on the ground will be a large factor in creating a sustainable future at the club.

Speaking to BBC Radio Manchester, Hill said: “We’re in good form at the minute but League One can hit you square in the face.

“We’ve got to distance ourselves as much as we can from the trapdoor. It’s very difficult for a football club like Rochdale to sustain League One status financially.

“We’re just striking the right note, but with respect to the future, we can’t spend money that we haven’t got, and I will refuse to do it.”

Against the Lilywhites centre-half O’Connell scored his second goal in two games with a stooping header, before captain Henderson and Done both notched their eighth league goals of the season.

The win takes Rochdale up to fourth with a greater goal difference than four other teams on equal points, while Simon Grayson’s men stay second, five points behind table-toppers Bristol City.

On-loan goalkeeper Conrad Logan helped maintain Rochdale’s impressive defensive record with another superb display which included a late penalty save from in-form striker Joe Garner.

Logan has now saved all three of the penalties he has faced since joining the club, and has played a significant part in Rochdale’s march up the table.

While full of praise for his team after their third win on the bounce, Hill has an eye on the bigger picture and urges fans to remain realistic about the future of the club.

“The players are embracing League One. I think we’ve got great mobility. We’ve got a goal-scoring threat, and we’ve kept a clean sheet the last two games,” he said. 

“The team at the minute is excelling in every department, but the club will find it difficult to maintain the strides that the team is making.

“We’re a really, really well run club. We’ve got to make sure we retain our League status, not our League One status.”

Next up for Hill’s men is an away trip to Northampton Town, who they face in the first round of the FA Cup on November 8.

Main image courtesy of Official Rochdale AFC via YouTube, with thanks.

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