Rochdale AFC manager Keith Hill has called for his players to display courage after a humbling 3-0 defeat to Oldham Athletic in a fiercely contested League One derby on Saturday.
Dale were undone by two strikes from Daniel Johnson and a Jonathan Forte penalty, in front of over 7,000 spectators at a bouncing Spotland Stadium.
Hill acknowledged how individual mistakes cost his team the points, with the loss seeing Rochdale slip to eighth in the table, but has challenged his players to continue playing in the same attacking vein.
Speaking to BBC Radio Manchester, Hill said: “I think we made mistakes all over the pitch. I can’t really say that I thought anyone was right at the top of their game.
“If you make mistakes like we have today, then you’re going to get punished against a team like Oldham.
“We can’t hammer the players. I have to ask the players to show courage and continue to try and play like we are doing. I have to encourage the players not to make those mistakes.”
Rochdale were bolstered by the surprise inclusions of both Matty Lund and Stephen Dawson in the starting line-up after injury worries, while Jack Muldoon and Reuben Noble-Lazarus were also handed opportunities to impress.
However, the absences of Matty Done and Peter Vincenti were noticeable as the home side struggled to penetrate a compact Oldham defence, with debutant Paddy Kenny rarely troubled in the Latics goal.
Daniel Johnson, on loan from Aston Villa, was lively all afternoon and deserved his double, despite receiving a large slice of luck for his first goal after his initial effort was saved by Conrad Logan.
The ever-dangerous Forte moved on to 13 league goals for the season, having calmly dispatched his penalty after Jack O’Connell fouled Danny Philliskirk.
The win moves Lee Johnson’s men into the play-off places, and provided the perfect afternoon for the strong travelling contingent who made the short trip north.
However, the scoreline flattered Oldham and Hill was not too disheartened with his team’s efforts throughout the match.
“I’m pleased with the atmosphere that was generated and pleased with the performance for the large majority of it,” he said.
“I was quite happy with our possession but not our penetration. We had the momentum in the second half. There’s no question about that, and we should have had a penalty.
“But it’s a definite penalty for their second goal and after that it is plain sailing for the opposition.”
Rochdale are now winless in their last four league fixtures, but next weekend offers a welcome distraction as Hill’s men travel to Aldershot Town for the second round of the FA Cup.
Main image courtesy of Official Rochdale AFC via YouTube, with thanks.