February 13, 2018 / 7:31 AM / a year ago

Rochdale's Hill dismisses pitch criticism ahead of Tottenham clash

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - FA Cup Fourth Round - Millwall vs Rochdale - The Den, London, Britain - January 27, 2018 Rochdale's manager Keith Hill applauds the fans at the end of the match Action Images/Tony O'Brien

(Reuters) - Rochdale manager Keith Hill has dismissed criticism of the club’s home pitch by Tottenham Hotspur counterpart Mauricio Pochettino, saying the Argentine’s comments were a “low blow” and an “easy punch” ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup fifth-round match.

The League One (third tier) club beat Millwall in the fourth round on a heavily-sanded pitch at the Crown Oil Arena this month to set up a meeting with Spurs.

The Premier League team’s manager called for the Football Association to look into the matter last week after seeing pictures and said that the state of the pitch was a “massive risk” for players and inadequate for an FA Cup match.

“I’m assured the pitch is going to be good,” Hill told the BBC. “It just seems to me it was an easy punch to hit us with.

“It was a bit of a low blow because a lot of work went into preparing the pitch and making sure it was playable.

“The pitch wasn’t a risk.... With respect to Pochettino, he’s got a right to comment on the pictures that were presented to him. But we are making sure that the playing surface is as perfect as it possibly can be.”

Rochdale plan to lay down a new pitch before Tottenham’s visit and Hill is hoping his players can train on the new surface ahead of the Spurs game.

Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond

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