Rochdale boss Hill says Cobblers are ‘league one club playing in league two’

BACK AT THE DALE - Keith Hill

BACK AT THE DALE - Keith Hill

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Rochdale boss Keith Hill has heaped praise on the Cobblers ahead of tomorrow’s npower League Two showdown between the sides at Sixfields (ko 3pm).

Hill is back at Spotland for a second stint as manager, replacing John Coleman who was relieved of his duties last month.

And he says he is bringing his team south to face an outfit that is a ‘league one club playing in league two’.

Hill, who left Rochdale in 2011 to take up the job as Barnsley boss before being sacked by the Tykes in January, is also looking forward to meeting up with Town’s two ex-Dale players, Clive Platt and Joe Widdowson.

And he stated he believes Aidy Boothroyd is doing at ‘excellent job’ at Sixfields.

“Clive Platt is a former team-mate and he was doing his business in the Championship last year,” said Hill, who guided Dale to promotion from league two in his first stint as manager.

“I recruited Joe Widdowson for Rochdale (in his first spell) and I know Aidy Boothroyd really well too.

“I think Aidy has done an excellent job at Northampton, taking them from possible relegation candidates to close to being in the play-offs this season, if not an automatic promotion contender.”

Many managers in league two have been scant in their praise for the efforts of the Cobblers so far this season, nearly all of them labelling the team direct and physical, but Hill is an admirer.

“Northampton are a good side and, for me, they’re a League One club playing in League Two,” said Hill.

“If they don’t achieve promotion this season I think they’ll achieve it over the next two years.”

Rochdale come to Northampton looking for their first win in six matches.

The two sides drew 0-0 when they met at Spotland on the opening day of the season, and it’s fair to say the season hasn’t gone to plan for a Dale side that was expected to challenge for automatic promotion following their relegation from league one last season.

They have won just two of their past 12 games, but midfielder Jason Kennedy believes Dale are still in with a chance of making the promotion play-offs, despite the fact they are 15th in the table and eight points adrift of Exeter City in seventh place.

And Kennedy puts that belief of possible success in the return of Hill.

“Keith Hill coming back has been brilliant,” said Kennedy, who looked set for a move to Capital One Cup finalists Bradford City until Hill’s return to the club saw him have a change of heart.

“It’s given everyone around the club a lift and the lads have responded well.

“We are looking more solid at the back and there is a desire to perform and produce the goods for him.”

And he added: “The play-offs are our main aim

“We have to get some wins under our belts but the lads are working hard and if we replicate what we do in training out on the field we will get better with each game.

“From a player’s perspective, we know exactly what Keith wants from us.

“The gaffer looks in depth at the opposition and tells us their weaknesses and strengths, where we need to be strong and where we might enjoy success in breaking down the opposition.

“It’s very specific for each player and we all go out knowing where the opposition’s weaknesses are and how we can expose them.”

Supporters are reminded to arrive for tomorrow’s match early to avoid congestion with the Saints fans leaving Franklin’s Gardens following their Aviva Premiership match with Gloucester which kicks off at 12.30pm and is expected to end around 2.15pm.