Ian Henderson’s 66th-minute winner proved the decisive, though the home side could and should have added one or two more goals in a dominant second-half performance.
While Orient’s relegation fears increased with this result, the three points kept Dale’s faint hopes of overtaking Chesterfield alive going into the last two games of the season.
“I was really pleased with the lads’ efforts and on another day we might have scored more goals, particularly with that second-half performance,” said Hill.
“It was a very good goal to win the game, with a very intelligent pass from Peter Vincenti, who I felt was somewhere close to being back to what we expect from him.
“It was a good victory and it was just what we needed. We’re in seventh place, five points behind Chesterfield and there is still plenty to play for.
“We probably have to enjoy being in this moment because next season is completely different in terms of mentality and momentum. It doesn’t follow that there will be a successful season next year – it does for Manchester United and the big teams, but not for Rochdale, we have to strike while the iron’s hot.”
Dale goalkeeper Josh Lillis was put to work by a volley from Dean Cox and a header from Nathan Clarke during the first half, while Cox squandered a good chance when he blasted over the crossbar with a clear view at goal.
David Mooney almost headed into his own net at the start of the second half when he attempted to clear Michael Rose’s free-kick, O’s goalkeeper Alex Cisak saving his blushes with a fine save.
Henderson slammed Vincenti’s pass into the roof of the net on 66 minutes and Calvin Andrew and Ashley Eastham were both denied by Orient goalkeeper Cisak late on.
“I thought in the first half we played a decent game,” said Orient boss Fabio Liverani. “We had a very good chance to score, unfortunately we didn’t take it. In the second half, I believe it was quite a balanced, even game until the goal and after that, we went down and lost the confidence and the mind to play in a proper way until the end of the game.
“The second half is split from before we conceded and after. We didn’t concede chances to Rochdale and after the goal, we just lost that confidence and composure on the pitch. The players in that situation need to keep their confidence up and we didn’t do that in the last 20 minutes.
“I think the goal came from a mistake defensively. We need to look at performance and fitness on the pitch.”