Keith Hill: Wembley trip is not just a day out for my Rochdale players
Dale will play at the national stadium for the first time in a decade.
Rochdale boss Keith Hill has reminded his players that their FA Cup replay with Tottenham at Wembley is not a sightseeing trip.
Sky Bet League One’s bottom side will play at the national stadium for the first time in a decade on Wednesday after forcing a memorable draw with Mauricio Pochettino’s Champions League challengers last week.
With the task of facing the side who are currently fourth in the Premier League difficult enough, Hill has tried to downplay the significance of the Wembley factor for the fifth-round rematch.
Hill said: “I’m looking forward to the game, not the trip. It’s not a day out.
“We are trying to do what would be an impossible task – play at Tottenham’s home ground and win an FA Cup fixture, a replay. It is a very difficult task for Premier League sides, never mind ourselves.
“Is it a dream to play at Wembley? It is a dream to win at Wembley. You’d rather be playing at Wembley in a cup final.
“It just happens that it’s Tottenham’s home ground this season. Too much is made of the special occasion – we are playing Tottenham in a replay.
“If it was a play-off final that would be special. It could be special if you win. I don’t draw too much relevance to it, personally. I just see it as a game.
“Cut out the sideshows and make sure we focus on trying to win a match.”
Rochdale last played at Wembley in the League Two play-off final in 2008, a match they lost to Stockport.
Their exhilarating 2-2 draw against Spurs, secured with a last-gasp equaliser from Steve Davies, was one of their best performances in a difficult season.
GOAL ROCHDALE!— BBC 5 Live Sport (@5liveSport) February 18, 2018
Steve Davies hits the equaliser and the Crown Oil Arena goes wild!
"Spurs thought they'd won it. Rochdale deserve it!" - @chris_sutton73
🔵 #RAFC 2-2 #THFC ⚪️#ROCTOT #FACup
📻⚽️👉: https://t.co/7sUSc1VP42 pic.twitter.com/MJJkDZufPb
They have since returned to something more like normality with a goalless draw against MK Dons and then defeat at Wigan.
Those results have left them 10 points adrift of safety in League One – albeit with four games in hand on some rivals – but Hill is confident of again troubling Spurs.
He said: “Wembley is a super playing surface and it is going to be a difficult game, but an enjoyable opportunity. That’s what I want the players to see it as, an opportunity, but not to test themselves but to win a game.
“They are better than us individually and collectively but I will encourage my players to be creative and focus with intelligent energy. I want to be brave and take on Tottenham and we’ll see where that takes us.”