Rochdale AFC manager Keith Hill highlighted his side’s bravery as being a key factor in their last-gasp victory over Bradford City at the Coral Windows Stadium.
Calvin Andrew’s injury-time header ensured Dale ran out 2-1 winners in a contest badly affected by a sub-standard playing surface.
Bradford goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was dismissed early on, with Jon Stead cancelling out Peter Vincenti’s strike before Andrew snatched all three points.
Speaking to BBC Radio Manchester, Hill said: “On a pitch like today it was down to a braveness – a physical braveness and a mental braveness.
“We’re really pleased with the points, the result and the courage that the players showed because we’re playing against a really good side.
“Let’s be right, the pitch was horrendous and I think, without being disrespectful, that’s shooting Bradford in their own foot.”
The victory for Hill’s men ended Bradford’s ten-match unbeaten run, and lifts the Greater Manchester side up to eighth in League One, two points outside the play-offs.
Pickford received his marching orders just twelve minutes into the match, having brought down Matty Done when through on goal.
Ian Henderson chipped the resulting penalty onto the bar, but displayed the presence of mind to roll aside and let Vincenti smash home the rebound and spare his blushes.
The Bantams got back on level terms through former Premier League frontman Jon Stead, nodding in from close range after half an hour.
On a treacherous surface both sides struggled for fluency, but it was Rochdale who emerged victorious as substitute Andrew picked up only his second league goal of the campaign with seconds remaining.
— Rochdale AFC (@officiallydale) January 11, 2015
When asked about Pickford’s sending off, Hill said: “There’s no debate – it’s a penalty and the rules are he has to be sent off. It’s the laws of the game.
“We knew it was going to be relentless, nothing changed when they went down to ten men. The outfield [players] remained the same – it was very difficult for us.
“I thought there was a lot of quality on display today. I think at times we rode our luck, at other times we stood up to the challenge, and I’m really pleased with the points.”
Bradford boss Phil Parkinson disagreed with Hill’s assessment of the red card incident, labelling it as an ‘atrocious decision’.
The loss means his team remain fifth, nine points behind Preston North End.
As well as the morale-boosting win that ends a run of back-to-back league defeats, Rochdale have been buoyed by the news that Ashley Eastham has agreed a contract extension until 2016.
The 23-year-old central defender joined from Blackpool in 2013 and was part of the Dale side that secured promotion from League Two last season.
Speaking to the official club website, Eastham said: “I’m really happy to have signed an extension.
“I was only interested in staying here. I can develop myself and be part of a successful side – fingers crossed we can carry on the good work that we’ve done already.”
Main image courtesy of Official Rochdale AFC via YouTube, with thanks.