Dele Alli was looking for the penalty he won, says Rochdale manager Keith Hill

Posted on Feb 18 2018 - 10:49pm by admin

Rochdale manager Keith Hill claimed Dele Alli was “looking for” the penalty that helped Tottenham Hotspur gain a 2-2 draw in their FA Cup Fifth Round tie away to the League One strugglers.

However Hill emphasised that he did not “blame” Alli for the way he earned the award as he went over under the clumsy challenge of central defender Harrison McGahey.

“I’m led to believe he (Alli) was looking for it, but why not?” Hill said.

“If players feel there is an opportunity to be gained then brilliant, I don’t hold it against him. I don’t blame him and I don’t have a problem with it.

“Whether it’s him, Harry Kane or (Rochdale striker) Ian Henderson, it doesn’t matter who does it. If he does that for England in the World Cup this summer, then I will definitely be supporting him.”

Alli has been accused of diving this season in search of penalties – not least in the recent Premier League fixture away to Liverpool, when he was cautioned for simulation.

He was also booked last autumn for an apparent dive against Huddersfield Town and his behaviour has been the subject of much debate.

In fairness Alli appeared to be fouled by McGahey to earn the 87th minute penalty, taken by Harry Kane, that briefly gave Spurs the lead at Spotland, although it could be argued that he exaggerated his fall.

The incident did not overshadow a brilliant cup tie with Rochdale gaining the reward of a lucrative replay at Wembley.

“I lost my dad this time last year, February 25, and the last time I went to Wembley I took him. This time I’ll take Sidney (his son, aged six) and he will be a mascot,” Hill said.

Of the result he added: “It was a feeling of reward, not relief, because the performance deserved at least the opportunity for us to go to Wembley for a replay.

“It was a test, but 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.”

Rochdale scored a last-minute goal, through substitute Steve Davies, to earn the replay.

“The late equaliser was raw emotion for everyone, from me, the players, staff and the supporters but we had to regain our composure.

“The least the players deserved was the reward of a night at Wembley,” Hill said.

Asked how much money Rochdale will make from the replay, Hill said: “I don’t know, but a lot of the money (£500,000) 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.

“That will also come from player sales as well and we’ve got players who can play in the Championship or potentially the Premier League.

“We will get beat (in the replay), realistically, but we will embrace it again. Spurs will be aware of us now and we might not get the same opportunity again but we will try to win.”

For Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino there was a sense of relief that his side, who were taken to a replay in the previous round by

League Two Newport County, are “still alive”.

He added: “We conceded in the last minute of the game and ok, now we need to move on and look forward. Now we have another possibility to get to the quarter-final. That is the FA Cup. That happens. For us it’s the second time in a row.

“Everyone was watching a Premier League team against a League One team, but it is not like this. When you play this type of competition it’s one team against another team.

“I think it’s not important the level of the team. We can see again with Newport and today. The good news is that we are still alive and we have the possibility to play again at Wembley.”
(The Telegraph)

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