This weekend Rochdale Ladies were away to play Didsbury Northern Ladies 6s on a rainy Saturday.

Yet again Rochdale were able to field a team with multiple subs. Keeper; Sam Partington. Defence; Kate Brammer, Dionne Collinson, Nikki Mongan & Gill Owen. Midfield; Gemma Hodcroft, Becky Knowles, Sarah Ransome & Roisin Pickering . Forwards; Jenny Banks & Katie Burrell. With Becca Newton, Paula McDonald Hannah Palmer & Jennie Ransome for rotating subs throughout the game.

It was Rochdale’s fifth match of the season and so far they had been unable to bag themselves a win, despite some excellent playing in their recent matches, and they knew that they had it in them to pull it off.

The game started off evenly enough, with the ball being in play at both ends of the pitch with neither team making any real progress on the other. In relatively quick succession both teams were able to get themselves a short corner but neither resulted in a goal.

A free hit from Pickering found it’s way to Burrell in Didsbury’s D and Burrell was ready for it, connecting with it and hitting it into the back of the goal. Only for it to be disallowed a moment later because the free hit had gone straight into the D without going five yards first.

After coming so close to being a goal down Didsbury pushed back with determination, but the Rochdale defense dug in, especially Collinson and Brammer who were intercepting the ball before it got to their D. Eventually – despite Didsbury making it as difficult as possible – Rochdale’s midfield were able to find a way back through. Pickering got far down the wing before launching the ball across the D, Newton got her stick to it but unfortunately her deflection went just outside of the post.

When Didsbury made another push Banks was able to tackle to reclaim the ball in the centre-ground, before hurtling her way down the pitch, weaving around every player, using Hodcroft as a feint to avoid one opposition player, before finding herself in the D. As she wound up to take her strike the Didsbury keeper came out towards her to block the attempt, resulting in no goal.

Another Didsbury short corner briefly worried Rochdale, but not their defence, they quickly cleared it away without a problem. Some brilliant work from S Ransome and Knowles got the ball back up the left wing where Banks was able to receive it and belted it into and across the D just an inch too far away from Newton for her to get her stick to it.

With the game still goalless at half time it was still all to play for and both teams were still challenging each other in their desire to get the first goal. Rochdale’s midfield had driven the ball deep into Didsbury’s defence and Hodcroft was able to work her way past the defender and launch the ball into the D, Banks received it and knocked it to the far post where Burrell had her stick down ready to tap it into the goal.

That goal lifted Rochdale’s spirits and made them belligerent in the face of a renewed attack from Didsbury to even the score. Rochdale intercepted and tackled the ball frequently to stop Didsbury before unfortunately losing possession themselves. Eventually Didsbury were awarded a short corner for a foot in the D, which they were able to capitalise on and landed themselves a goal.

Banks decided she wasn’t having that, and from the pushback she took the ball and ran it down the pitch and around anyone who dared to try and stop her. Once in the D she swung and connected with a strike that landed the ball into the back of the net. Putting Rochdale back in front.

The match started to become a battle of wills, both teams playing some great hockey and both digging in to prevent the other from getting any goals. Owen and Mongan performed some excellent stops before using strong hits to clear the ball from the D before the midfield worked to break through the opposition players to try and get even more chances on goal. J Ransome especially tracking up and down the pitch to cover both attack and defence.

Didsbury managed to find a break down the sideline and despite some excellent defensive work from Collinson they were able to get through and equalise the score. Rochdale were briefly concerned when another Didsbury attack made it’s way through the defence but it was seen off by another excellent save by Partington enabling Rochdale to reorganise and properly see it out of their side of the pitch.

After another attempt by Didsbury to pull ahead Collinson was able to intercept the ball and quickly passed it up to Banks, who was ready to go on another run, driving down the pitch and around the Didsbury players in her way. Feinting to one side before taking her strike and finding another goal to put Rochdale back in the lead.

The game ended on a Rochdale short corner, the whistle blowing for full time just as they were setting up. As the last play of the game Rochdale pushed all their players up, but Didsbury knew all they had to do was clear far enough to end the game, and the short ended without a goal.

Final score was 3-2 to Rochdale, with goal scorers Jenny Banks (2) and Katie Burrell (1).

Player of the match and umpire’s player of the match was Jenny Banks.

Captain Knowles & Pickering said: “It was all to play for today and despite them being a skilful team we managed to use their weaknesses to our advantage. Effort, skill, determination are the three words to sum up today’s fixture. Bring on next week”

Written by Hannah