By Richard Cawley
Millwall manager Neil Harris has congratulated Rochdale on their FA Cup progress – after admitting his side were second-best at mastering the Crown Oil Arena surface.
Ian Henderson’s goal early in the second half was enough to settle the contest on a pitch that was heavily sanded and had been covered for nearly a week in the build-up to the replay to ensure it went ahead.
Dale are now likely to face Tottenham at home in the fifth round, with TV covering the tie.
Harris said: “I can blame the pitch for the lack of quality in the game, the lack of chances and the lack of composure. But, first and foremost, congratulations to Keith [Hill] and Rochdale. Over the two games they’ve probably just about deserved to beat us.
“They got to grips with the surface better than us. We played with no lack of effort but were a little bit naive at times in the way we played on it and some of my players didn’t perform to the best of their ability.
“That’s clear [that his side didn’t create enough chances]. But they haven’t worked our goalkeeper either. I’d hate to see the stats – they would be horrendous for both teams. Sometimes you have got to say hats off to an opponent.
“We had a great run last year and got to the quarter-finals. Yes, I’d have loved to have won this tie and had a home tie in the fifth round. But our big focus is the league and we turn our attentions quickly to Cardiff on Friday night.
“Whenever I’ve been in charge we’ve always bounced back, we’ve always followed a disappointment with a positive. I just said to the players ‘you got beaten by the better team – no complaints, no sulking’. We didn’t play well tonight, no moaning about that from me.
“I’ve almost completed three years in charge and we’ve not had many low points. Tonight is a frustrating one. I’m not having anybody make it a little disaster out of one game of football on the worst football pitch I’ve ever seen. We played really poorly – they played better than us. They played the elements better than us.
“Rochdale are a league below us, so what? It was only eight months ago that there was three points between us at the end of a league season.”