‘They’ll be in our faces’: Rochdale goalkeeper Josh Lillis expects ‘fierce contest’ from Cheltenham

By Josh Nicholls

Rochdale goalkeeper Josh Lillis believes his side will face a stern test at Cheltenham Town on Saturday.

Dale have won five out of their last six games and sit fifth in League Two, while Cheltenham have won just once at home all season and are currently 17th.

But ‘keeper Lillis is nonetheless prepared for an abrasive approach from the hosts.

“It’ll be a fierce contest, it’s a tight pitch down at Cheltenham (and) they’ll be in our faces. We’re going to expect a high tempo start from them,” said Lillis before Friday’s training session.

“But the way we’re playing at the minute, we’re very confident going into the game.”

Last week’s 3-0 victory over Newport County was described by forward Ian Henderson on Twitter as Dale’s “best team performance of the season” and Lillis says self-belief is flowing through the squad.

“We do believe in ourselves, we’ve believed in ourselves ever since Keith Hill walked through the door really, he’s changed a few things and we’re really confident within ourselves as a tight knit group.”

Lillis began his career at Scunthorpe United where he worked under Nigel Adkins, who achieved two promotions during his tenure and the ‘keeper believes there are similarities between his former boss and current boss Hill.

“They both love the game, they’re both knowledgeable, and their tactics are very similar as they both like to play the game in the right way,” he said.

Despite twiddling his thumbs for long periods of the Newport game, the Rochdale stopper kept his concentration to save a penalty.

However Lillis was quick to credit the save to goalkeeping coach Steve Collis, who prepares him thoroughly prior to each game.

Rochdale’s number one revealed that Collis meticulously studies the opposition every week, providing him with a list of players likely to take penalties and where they tend to put their spot-kicks.

Lillis once dreamed of taking penalties rather than saving them as he was originally a striker, but a leg -break when he was ten saw him turn his hand to goalkeeping.

“I lost a yard of pace so I dropped back into the goal,” he said of his early exploits as an outfield player.

Image courtesy of TexacoUKFC via YouTube, with thanks.

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