Rochdale v Leeds United: Hill plots Spotland FA Cup upset

Keith Hill.
Keith Hill.
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Rochdale manager Keith Hill believes his side will “probably have to play the game of their lives” on Saturday to cause an FA Cup upset against Leeds.

The third-round tie at Spotland will be the first meeting between the two sides in nearly 36 years and Hill said the classic ‘David versus Goliath clash’ was a privilege to be involved in.

Dale, who last reached the third round of the competition in 2005, were rewarded with the chance to embarrass Leeds by beating Rotherham and Hill insists his side will not fear Brian McDermott’s Sky Bet Championship play-off chasers.

“They’re an excellent Championship side and it’s going to be a difficult task, but it’s no way impossible,” Hill told BBC North West Tonight.

“We’ve probably got to be at our very best and probably play the games of our lives, but we’re capable of doing it.

“From our perspective, to play at home against them is a real privilege and an opportunity to create a cup upset.

“We’ve played some marvellous football this season, especially at home, and I don’t see why we have to go into this game with fear.

“Respect, yes, for Brian (McDermott) and his team, but no fear.

“Leeds are an amazing football club and an amazingly successful football club.

“They’re in great shape at the minute in the Championship and looking to embark on a promotion campaign, and they’ve got a super manager.”

Victory over Leeds will see Rochdale reach the fourth round for the first time since 2003 when a memorable cup run was halted by a 3-1 defeat at Wolves.

Hill can be assured his goodwill towards his opposite number will be reciprocated, but McDermott admitted his side’s immediate league results were more of a concern when the third-round draw was made.

“I’ve always been an admirer of Keith, and the way his teams play their football,” McDermott told his club’s official website.

“He’s done a good job with Rochdale.

“The tie is away from home so it’s a tough draw, but we’ll look forward to the game.”

Leeds have not enjoyed the best of Christmas programmes, taking only two points from their past four matches to slip out of the top six.

McDermott accepts he will need to strengthen this month if Leeds are to maintain their play-off challenge, but welcomes the cup clash after the home defeat to Blackburn on New Year’s Day.

“I’m pleased that it is the FA Cup this weekend,” McDermott said.

“I think that it is good. It gives us a chance to freshen up and we have to have that chance.”

Rochdale recently rose to third place in League Two, but slipped to fifth after their 3-0 New Year’s Day defeat at promotion rivals Scunthorpe.

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