Rochdale AFC manager Keith Hill expressed pride in his team after their FA Cup run was brought to an abrupt end by an impressive Stoke City last night.
The Potters ran out 4-1 winners at Spotland Stadium thanks to goals from Bojan Krkic, Stephen Ireland, Victor Moses and Jonathan Walters, with Rhys Bennett notching for Dale.
The scoreline failed to accurately reflect what was an attacking performance from Hill’s men with the Rochdale boss quick to concede his side lost to a superior outfit.
Speaking to the BBC, Hill said: “The lads have done the club credit. Fair play to Stoke, they were worthy winners in the end.
“We tried to attack with intent and press the opposition but they are an excellent side.
“The game is marginal no matter where you stand in the pyramid. The Bojan goal was a great piece of skill but it didn’t frighten us.”
Hill had been suffering from an illness in the lead up to the game, while the home supporters showed admirable spirit to ensure the game went ahead by clearing large quantities of snow from the pitch during the week.
The Dale manager named an unchanged side from last weekend’s victory against Crawley town, with Peter Vincenti overcoming an injury scare and teenager Callum Camps retaining his central midfield berth.
However, Rochdale were on the back foot immediately when ex-Barcelona forward Bojan slammed a dipping volley past Josh Lillis inside five minutes.
Dale had chances to level through Stephen Dawson and Matty Done, but were punished when Ireland doubled the away side’s advantage early in the second half.
Mark Hughes’ Stoke added a third through Moses’ outstanding solo effort after an hour, before Bennett slotted a well-deserved consolation to kindle hope of a remarkable comeback.
This dream never materialised as a professional Stoke closed out the match, with Walters pinching a fourth in stoppage time.
Also speaking to the BBC, ex-Manchester United frontman Hughes said: “We got the job done but credit to Rochdale.
“In the first half we found it difficult. We had a great goal from Bojan which helped us and in the second half we got to grips with them and turned it around.
“We wanted to make headlines for the right reasons and thankfully Rochdale haven’t made the news.”
Hughes will now face his former charges Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park in the next round, while Rochdale return to the grind of League One reality with a visit to Coventry City on Saturday.
Main image courtesy of Official Rochdale AFC via YouTube, with thanks.