Both influential captains Karl Wynn and Dean Close were missing for Rochdale’s return clash against City of Manchester on Saturday, this was a game Rochdale had won earlier in the season 12-1. So Graham Broadley, who was stepping up as temporary captain, had a lot to live up to. Broadley had clearly done his homework, using the wealth of experience of Imran Ansari in the centre of midfield and surrounding him with the youth and pace of Luke Rosebury, George Rogers and Peter Ransome.
The tactic paid dividends right from the off, as the three young midfielders accompanied by Bjorne Brauns and Broadley himself upfront, pressed high and hard. Manchester struggled to get the ball out of their own half and each time they did, it fell right to Ansari, who’s skill on the ball, bought him all the time he needed to feed the strikers at will. By half time Broadley had secured himself a hat-trick and Brauns had also got himself on the score sheet.
Although Manchester did have a couple of attacks during the first half, mainly due to Rochdale pushing so high up the pitch, that any missed time tackle led to a run chase back to Brian Robinson in the Rochdale goal. But on each and every occasion Robinson was clinical and gave nothing away. The fact remained that Rochdale were unlucky to only go in at half time 4-0 ahead.
The second half not only set off in the same manner but improved, it must have a good 5 minutes on the clock before Manchester actually had a meaningful passage of play. Another barrage of goals came in the second half and with Rochdale 8-0 to the good, they were awarded a penalty flick.
Without hesitation up stepped 16 year old Peter Ransome. Showing no nerves at all, he calmly put the flick away to make it 9-0. Both Ransome and Sam Wilkinson, the teams youngest players and products of the junior set up, have shown this season great maturity and are improving week on week. Becoming regulars in the team, not just squad.
Dave Jackson, usualy confined to the back four, even managed a short cameo appearance up front for the last 10 minutes and was unlucky when he hit the post.
Broadley said after the game “It was a privilege to captain the guys today, everything I asked they did. Ansari was able to do what he does best, and that was down to the other guys around him putting in 110%. George Rogers was fully deserving of the Atticus Promotions man of the match.”