Rochdale started the new season with a new captain in the form of Tim Liptrot and former captain Dean Close was now the vice captain. After a few wholesale changes to the squad, the team travelled to their first opponents, Bolton Hockey Club, to get their season started.
The game started well with both teams getting good possession of the ball in the middle of the pitch. The first 10 minutes were all about getting comfortable in the game after the summer break and temperatures reaching 26oC during the game was really testing both teams fitness. Bolton struck first, with a well worked counter through to the Rochdale D and managed to get the early lead. Rochdale were not dis-heartened by this and started to push against the Bolton defence earning a few early short corners but unfortunately not being able to convert this into a goal.
Rochdale however kept going, and with a quick counter attack, Kane Morgan making his debut for Rochdale worked his way into the D and calmly passed the ball across the face of goal to the oncoming run of Meanock who tapped the ball in to get Rochdale’s goal tally on its way, before the half ended.
The game was fast becoming end to end. A counter attack from Bolton started with the left wing picking up the ball and attacking the Rochdale baseline, cutting in and somehow finding the smallest of gaps to smuggle the ball past the Rochdale keeper to regain a 2-1 Bolton lead.
Bolton started to really press Rochdale hard and were really putting the defence under some real strain when a run by their forward was tracked superbly by Andy Meanock only to end in a penalty flick when the two players collided and the umpire deemed it to be Meanock trying to force the attacker off the ball. This left James Deacy, in the Rochdale goal, to face down the Bolton striker on his own. As soon as the whistle was blown the striker calmly slotted the ball into the corner away from the pads of Deacy. Taking it to a half team score of 3-1 to Bolton.
In the second half Rochdale changed the way they were set up and went a lot more defensive in their positioning whilst allowing the same style of counter attack that had proved successful. This allowed the Rochdale to start to control the game a lot more effectively and were managing to find the gaps in between the Bolton defence. Unfortunately, Rochdale paid the price for taking the chances and Bolton were able to strike again with a run all the way down the sideline and slipping it into the back of the net, 4-1.
With a foul just outside the Bolton D, Dean Close took control of the ball and with a well weighted pass was able to find Bjorne Brauns around the penalty spot who expertly slapped the ball in to the net to bring Rochdale back into the game.
Captain Tim Liptrot,”The team played well and for a first game the chemistry was excellent, the boys really pulled together and we played much better in the second half than the score line suggests”.
Man of the Match Kane Morgan.