Late equaliser was ‘reward not relief’, says Rochdale manager Keith Hill

Andy Hunter at Spotland on 18 February 2018

The Rochdale manager, Keith Hill, said a Wembley replay against Tottenham Hotspur was the least the League One side deserved and will support the club financially for up to three years.

League One’s bottom club produced a superb display in the FA Cup fifth round but looked beaten when Harry Kane, summoned from the bench by Mauricio Pochettino, scored an 88th-minute penalty.

Hill claimed Dele Alli “was looking for it” when he won the late penalty, although the Rochdale manager absolved the Spurs midfielder of blame. He was in buoyant mood after the Rochdale substitute Steve Davies levelled in the 93rd minute.

Hill said: “It was a feeling of reward [when Davies scored], not relief, because the performance deserved at least the opportunity for us to go to Wembley for a replay. I’ve always wanted to do that against a Premier League team and manager. Why not take them on and try to win? It could have been football suicide but I thought we gained their respect and to score the goal we did was tremendous. The players were magnificent.”

Lucas Moura cancelled out Ian Henderson’s first-half opener for Rochdale before Alli won a penalty going over a challenge from Harrison McGahey. The Rochdale manager said: “I’m led to believe he was looking for it, but why not? If players feel there is an opportunity to be gained, then brilliant. I don’t hold it against him. If he does that for England in the World Cup this summer, then I will definitely be supporting him.”

Spurs’ manager, Mauricio Pochettino, said: “The good news is we are still alive” after another FA Cup ordeal while Hill savoured a replay of huge significance to the financially challenged League One club. “I don’t know how much it is worth but a lot of money has gone into the new pitch. That was a heavy investment for us. Hopefully the money we make will support the club for the next two or three years. We will cut our cloth accordingly and we won’t be in debt.”

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