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League Two

Keith Hill hails 'special' Rochdale

3 May 2014

Rochdale manager Keith Hill hailed his group of players, despite a 2-1 defeat at Newport County.

The men from Greater Manchester had already clinched promotion before the start of the match but were beaten by Newport, who battled back with 10 men to snatch victory.

George Donnelly put Rochdale in front before Aaron O'Connor levelled with his first goal since Newport's play-off final triumph at Wembley last season.

Ian McLoughlin then kept out Matt Lund's 80th minute penalty, before the Exiles stormed downfield to claim the three points through Kevin Feely.

Despite the last-gasp loss, Hill praised his players.

He said: "Realistically we should have been below mid-table but what we've done is fantastic.

"To bring this group together and achieve what we have achieved is really special.

"We had a very small budget but we've brought players together who have all made financial sacrifices.

"It's absolutely brilliant, our fans were superb. Everyone has supported the cause all season.

"I'm going to make a massive song and dance about the financial implications for our football club as we have spent a lot less than sides that have finished a long way below is in this league.

"It's going to be equally difficult next year both financially and on the pitch but I know we'll be successful because these lads are honest and I trust them."

Rochdale went ahead in the 27th minute when Jamie Allen fed Donnelly who rounded goalkeeper McLoughlin to slot into the empty net from a tight angle.

The 1700 away fans were silenced five minutes before half-time when O'Connor levelled.

Rochdale were awarded a penalty with 10 minutes to go when Jackson was sent-off for bringing down Ian Henderson after the winger broke clean through.

But McLoughlin produced an athletic save to keep Matt Lund's penalty out.

The Exiles then marched downfield to bag the win just four minutes from time when Feely rose to head in past Rochdale stopper Josh Lillis.

Newport County boss Justin Edinburgh said: "We've had a brilliant season and accomplished what we set out to do.

"We've had some fantastic evenings and days along the way and to round it off with a victory against a promoted side was a fantastic end to the season and credit to the players because I think they've been absolutely outstanding all year."

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