Football: HAIL DALE!; Rochdale 2 Coventry 0 Simpson: It Can't Get Any Better Than This
Byline: John ARNFIELD
ROCHDALE player-boss Paul Simpson watched stunned as his side reached the FA Cup fifth round for only the second time and gasped: "This is as good as it gets."
Paul Connor and giant Gareth Griffiths were the goal heroes as the team 17th in the Third Division destroyed a side bang in the hunt for promotion to the Premiership.
Dale's midweek defeat at home to Lincoln was, according to Simpson, "the lowest point of my career".
But the improvement in Rochdale's form yesterday would in another sport have prompted a stewards' inquiry.
"It's certainly a funny old game. After the disappointment of Tuesday we changed things round and I willed myself on thinking I could still do a job," said Simpson.
"But this was a team effort, a squad effort even, with everyone sticking to their task. It is a great day for me and for Rochdale FC.
"I know some players were disappointed to be left out but, at the end of the day, I think I deserve a pat on the back for having made the right decisions.
"I'm delighted for everybody. I'm not going to think about anything this weekend other than enjoy this result. This is as good as it has ever been for me."
This was a repeat of Rochdale's famous success over Coventry 32 years ago when Noel Cantwell brought his Sky Blues side to the north west asking "Where's Rochdale?"
And it was a hammer blow for Coventry player-boss Gary McAllister, an FA Cup winner with Liverpool two seasons ago.
"This is one of the lowest points of my career as a player, never mind as a manager," said the 38-year-old.
"It doesn't get much worse than this. It hurts and it's hurting now.
"They wanted it more and that can't be right. We were out-fought and out-attituded. They rose to the occasion and deserved to go through."
And in a warning to his shell-shocked players, he added: "I can't change my team for the next game against Watford but there are some big decisions coming in the summer and the players are going to have to produce."
The breakthrough came when Coventry captain Mo Konjic made one of his typical sorties upfield.
This time, though, he was dispossessed and Sky Blues found themselves outnumbered following a superb defence-splitting pass by David Flitcroft, brother of Blackburn midfielder Garry. …