As the 2017/2018 season draws to an end, Rochdale had one more away fixture to play, so on Saturday they headed for the Armitage Sports Centre for a 10.30am push back against Didsbury. With Rochdale keen on carrying the momentum from last weeks’ win whilst hoping to edge out of the relegation zone, it was a game they needed to perform in.

Rochdale came out with high energy and intensity despite testing weather conditions with the ladies pushing high up the pitch to force pressure on the Didsbury team. However; after many failed opportunities to score in the D it became frustrating for the ladies. Having said this, the ladies’ motivation did not falter, and the lack of goals spurred them on. Gemma Hodcroft and Paula MacDonald both worked tirelessly in the middle, using Becky Knowles and Roisin Pickering on the wings to make informed passes up the pitch towards Rebecca Netwon and Katie Burrell upfront. With the weather only getting worse the umpires were forced to call time, to make a decision on the fate of the match, with both team captains. It was then decided to carry on the match but to regularly assess the condition of the pitch as the snow belted down thick and fast. At times it felt like the Rochdale Ladies were battling against the weather with it becoming difficult to make clean passes or run up the pitch. Therefore; it wasn’t long before the ladies started to fatigue, and Didsbury went in for the attack, testing the defence – made up of Moon, Owen, Collinson and Leech. After many failed attempts to penetrate the D, with keeper Sam Partington on top form, Didsbury managed to sneak ahead with a goal towards the end of the first half.

The second half was much of the same with both teams working hard to get them all important goals. The ‘beast from the east 2.0’ started to calm however, the damage had been done and legs started to tire. The defence worked hard to try and stop the determined Didsbury players out of the D with varying success. With Partington leading the defensive team and communicating effectively it allowed the ladies to mark much better in the D. Didsbury’s second goal came from a tap in into the right-hand corner of the goal, Partington saved the first two attempts however, the tap in snuck past and Rochdale went 2-0 down. Rochdale’s fate was sealed minutes later with the upfront Didsbury player volleying a ball into the top left-hand corner of the D, a well-deserved goal as the skill execution was extraordinary. With minutes left of the second half, Rochdale pushed to try and even the score line. Collinson tackled the Didsbury attacker at the top of the D, ran it up to the middle of the pitch before passing to Knowles. Knowles received the ball and smashed it into the D where Burrell was waiting. With Didsbury’s defence feeling the pressure they stepped up and cleared the ball. Hodcroft managed to intercept the clearance before passing to Leech who slotted it to Pickering. Again, the defence cleared the ball. This time the defenders cleared it over to the right-hand side of the pitch where Newton was able to hassle the Didsbury player and take possession before passing square to MacDonald. MacDonald then made one final attempt to get that much needed goal. Unfortunately, despite the valiant effort of the team, this wasn’t meant to be, and the game ended 3-0.

The player of the match was Dionne Collinson.

Captain Kie Leech “It was a really tough match today with the weather but we all got stuck in from the start and played very well as a team despite the conditions.”