With a last minute change due to a frozen pitch Rochdale who were meant to be playing at home on Saturday instead travelled to City of Manchester to play the rearranged fixture.
Rochdale went with a full complement of defenders, midfielders and strikers all hungry at the prospect of one last match before the Christmas break.
From the moment they won the coin toss Rochdale took control and showed huge passion and desire. Strong passing and movement off the ball meant Bjorne Brauns managed to put the first goal away at the back post with Rochdale first attack. As soon as Manchester had restarted Rochdale regained possession and as quickly as the first goal had gone in a second one was in the back of the net for Brauns.
This was quickly starting to look like a one sided game with Rochdale heaping the pressure on the Manchester defence. Counter after counter came for Rochdale with Manchester rarely getting out of their half. This relentless pressure paid dividends with two stunning strikes from James Shepherd, putting Rochdale 4-0 up.
The quick goals led to a lack of concentration from Rochdale and after trying to play the ball out from the back, it fell to Manchesters centre back who ran through the middle of the pitch without any pressure or a tackle and slipped a pass to the striker to put them on the score sheet at 4-1.
However this lack of concentration and subsequent punishment spurred Rochdale back into action. Managing to punish Manchester with two more goals before the end of the half earning Brauns a first half hat trick and a goal for Andy Meanock. The half time break came and Rochdale went it 6-1 to the good.
Rochdale started the second half just like they had finished with high pressing and not allowing Manchester to venture much further than the halfway line and on the few occasions they did the defence held strong and spread the ball around to start some solid counter attacks.
It was on these counter attacks that saw Luke Rosebury scored his first for the game after hassling the Manchester player and winning the ball. But this was nothing to compare with his second which followed quickly. After a great run down the right and strong cross from Shepherd, Rosebury met the ball first time from the top of the D, leaving the Manchester keeper with no chance of saving it.
Time and time again Rochdale overpowered the Manchester midfielders and were able to get back into their D, leading to Brauns scoring his fourth goal of the game.
Another offensive drive into the Manchester D, saw the ball fired at the keeper who managed to smuggle the ball away but only for it to the feet of Sam Wilkinson, one of Rochdale up and coming junior stars who now regularly hold a place down in the second team, to score his first goal for the team.
Time after time Rochdale managed to get past the opposition midfield with ease and when the ball fed to Dean Close who from the top left of the D put away a spectacular drag flick going over the keeper and into the top left corner of the net, everybody knew it had been a good day at the office.
Rochdal’s last goal came from Graham Broadley, which meant all strikers and midfield players had scored in the match, which ended 12-1 to Rochdale.
It was most definitely the Christmas present Rochdale had wanted.
Captain Karl Wynn “Todays result is a fantastic way to finish the first half of the season. We now go into the Christmas break on a high and looking forward to next year. Bjorne Brauns scored four today, he could have had more, but on several occasions laid the ball of for others to get on the score sheet. He is more than deserving of the Atticus Trophies Man of The Match. A massive thank you must go out to Michael Waddicor and James Shepherd for their contribution and advice today, which we will all take on board for the rest of the season.”