Rochdale AFC manager Keith Hill has called for greater maturity from his side next season after their faint playoff hopes slipped away with a 3-2 defeat to MK Dons at Spotland on Saturday.
Goals from Samir Carruthers, Dean Bowditch and Daniel Powell gave Dons the victory, despite second-half strikes from Peter Vincenti and Ian Henderson.
Opposite number Karl Robinson believed the home side deserved to win, but Hill was critical of his players and couldn’t hide his disappointment at the nature in which Dale’s campaign has petered out.
Speaking to BBC Radio Manchester, he said: “That game summed our season up. We made too many individual mistakes.
“The players have to accept responsibility defensively, and they haven’t done that for most of the season, and that’s why we’ve lost 20 games.
“Where we’re at at this moment in time is healthy but we’ve got to try and plan the future.”
The result leaves Rochdale five points behind Chesterfield with one game remaining and unable to bridge the gap to the top six.
While still only a point ahead of Bradford City and Peterborough United, with a far superior goal difference, Hill identified the final game of the season against former club Barnsley as a dead rubber.
Attention now turns to next season, with the Dale boss looking to verify this year’s campaign with a solid second season in League One.
“The indication of whether this season has been successful or not will be next season. The players need to grow up and accept responsibilities,” he said.
“It could have been an unbelievable season if we roll into next season with these players maturing. If we don’t, and they don’t, then they’re never going to be players.
“There’s been a lot of ups and downs, and I’ll only know how successful a season it’s been next season, probably after about 23 games.”
Image courtesy of Official Rochdale via YouTube, with thanks.