Keith Hill believes Rochdale AFC are reaping the rewards of investing in young players as they maintained their League One promotion push with a 2-1 win over Colchester United on Saturday.
Goals from Rhys Bennett and Ian Henderson sealed victory for Dale, despite Chris Porter’s consolation from the penalty spot, and Hill’s team move within three points of the play-offs with two games in hand.
Rochdale have now registered back-to-back home wins following their midweek demolition of Crewe Alexandra, as the Greater Manchester side continue their recovery after a tough run of fixtures in February.
Speaking to BBC Radio Manchester, the Dale boss said: “I think the lads have done terrifically well. There’s peaks and troughs throughout any season, especially when you’ve been promoted.
“If there’s a recession you don’t wait and see – you start investing. It’s difficult for us because we’re investing in players and we need time. We can’t invest in monetary status.
“We insist on playing football and sometimes that can get misjudged and sometimes it can get taken for granted.”
Operating on one of the smaller budgets in the division, Rochdale have continued to exceed expectations and are within striking distance of the top six with only 13 games remaining in the campaign.
They are the fourth-highest scoring team in League One, and the versatile Bennett added another to their tally when he headed the opener against Colchester inside six minutes at the weekend.
Dale top-scorer Henderson moved on to 16 league goals for the season when he doubled the home side’s lead shortly after half time.
Michael Rose’s foul on Gavin Massey gave Tony Hume’s men a way back into the game from the spot, but Colchester couldn’t find an equaliser and remain two points adrift of safety.
Young midfielder Andy Cannon was singled out for praise by Hill and the watching media after the game, with the 18-year-old playing out of position at full-back.
“It lifts me when someone comes to me and says ‘wow, what a player’,” Hill said.
“Andrew was absolutely superb. I think he is an exceptional talent.
“He can play in midfield and I think that is arguably where he wants to play, but someone once said to me ‘Would you rather play full-back or substitute?’ – Which one are you going to choose?”
Rochdale have now secured two wins on the bounce following their 4-0 victory over Crewe on Tuesday evening – Henderson and Joe Bunney both grabbing a double each.
Up next are difficult trips to Fleetwood Town and Notts County, with six points required in order to stay in touch with their fellow promotion hopefuls.
Main image courtesy of Official Rochdale AFC via YouTube, with thanks.