Wednesday 23 January 2019

'It's a penalty, but Alli was looking for it' - Hill

Tottenham Hotspur's Dele Alli. Photo credit: Tim Goode/PA Wire
Tottenham Hotspur's Dele Alli. Photo credit: Tim Goode/PA Wire Sportsdesk

Keith Hill, the Rochdale manager, claimed he had no problem with the late penalty awarded against his side in their pulsating FA Cup draw with Tottenham Hotspur, even if Dele Alli was looking for it.

Alli went down under the challenge of Harrison McGahey in the 88th minute with the score at 1-1, with several Rochdale players complaining that he had gone to ground too easily.

Tottenham's place in the quarter-finals appeared to be secure when Harry Kane converted the spot-kick, but a stoppage-time equaliser by Stephen Davies ensured Rochdale would earn a deserved replay at Wembley.

Hill held his post-match press conference before having a chance to see a replay of the Alli incident, but refused to criticise the player and instead claimed he would be happy to see the England international do the same at next summer's World Cup.

"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," the Rochdale manager said.

"I don't blame him and I don't have a problem with it. Whether it's him, Harry Kane or (Rochdale's opening scorer) 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."

Hill hailed his side, bottom of League One, for producing an ambitious display and a famous result having risked "football suicide" by playing so adventurously.

"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," he said. "The first half was magnificent in how we took the game to the opposition.

"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 and to score the goal we did was tremendous."

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