‘We’re not League One footballers yet’: Rochdale boss Hill sets 2015 target

Rochdale AFC boss Keith Hill spoke about the pressure of managing expectations as his side soared back into the League One play-off places with a thumping 4-1 win over Colchester United on Saturday.

The Dale inflicted a fifth straight defeat upon Colchester thanks to goals from Matty Lund, Peter Vincenti, Ian Henderson and Jack O’Connell at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.

Hill’s men are up to sixth in the table after recording their first victory since the start of November, and the manager is keen to maintain a sense of perspective regarding the club’s progress.

Speaking to BBC Radio Manchester, Hill said: “There’s far too much expected of this team. Some of the questions posed to me having lost three of the last four games were quite ridiculous.

“I think at times there’s too much pressure on each of us. I mean there’s an expectancy on us to come here and win.

“We’re not a League One football club. Colchester are as they’ve been here for how many seasons? I want to establish us as a League One team.”

Rochdale have made an impressive start to the campaign after achieving promotion last year, but Hill is keen to prevent supporters from getting carried away with their current league position.

However, the squad is returning to full strength after the well-documented struggles of November and there is no reason why the side cannot pose a threat to the bigger teams at the top of the table.

Saturday’s fixture saw the welcome return of top-scorer Matty Done from suspension, partnering Vincenti and Henderson as Hill fielded his preferred attacking options for the first time in almost two months.

Midfielder Lund opened the scoring by tapping in after Colchester goalkeeper Sam Walker failed to hold onto Michael Rose’s free-kick, while Vincenti doubled the lead a few minutes later in a similar fashion.

Henderson made it three from the spot when Kaspars Gorkss tripped Stephen Dawson just before half-time, and the frontman could have had a hat-trick having struck the woodwork twice in a lively performance.

The hosts replied after the break through Gavin Massey, but Jack O’Connell’s header mid-way into the second-half sealed the points for Dale.

The result means Rochdale leapfrog rivals Oldham Athletic after Lee Johnson’s side suffered a 4-0 reverse to his father Gary’s Yeovil Town, while Colchester remain mired in the relegation zone.

Although he believed that his team could have scored even more goals, Hill was full of praise for his side after Saturday’s win and made clear the value he places on his players.

“I’ve got a very good squad of players and I’m happy with the result and majority of the performance,” he said.

“We’ve performed admirably in the first part of the season so I think this result and this performance reflects what we’re capable of doing as a squad.

“The players are really good to work with. They’re flexible, they’re knowledgeable and if you look at the squad I selected today there are players who would walk into a lot of League One teams up and down the country.”

Rochdale’s next test arrives on Tuesday night when Aldershot Town are the visitors to Spotland Stadium for their FA Cup second round replay.

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

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