Rochdale made the relatively short journey to the Armitage centre at the University of Manchester’s sports facility to face Didsbury Northern 6th team, one of two Didsbury teams that they face this season for the second leg.
Rochdale travelled with a full complement of players allowing them make quick rotations and keep the whole team as fresh as possible or for when a player got injured.
Straight from the pushback, Rochdale made the more impressive start with a flurry of attacks at goal and the Didsbury team having no response for the variety of penetrations into their d. Whenever the ball was lost to the opposition, Rochdale were ferocious in retrieving the ball and pushing back on the counter.
It was Rochdale who were to make the first major breakthrough with a well worked short corner routine Sean Carney slotted the ball away to give Rochdale a well deserved lead. With the one goal lead though this wasn’t enough for Rochdale who were eager and hungry to keep control and got possession back quickly and kept control really well.
Again, Rochdale were pressing hard and constantly winning the ball back and spreading the ball efficiently from Carney and Andy Meanock who were dominating the centre midfield positions. With another strong push into the D the ball was sent towards the back post where the Didsbury keeper made a good save but deflected back out to Graham Broadley who threw himself at the ball pushing it over the line to give Rochdale a comfortable lead.
Rochdale were well in control of the game and were giving their all to score more goals and were once more pressing towards the Didsbury D and a gently dinked ball passed a Didsbury player to Liam Nutter who put everything on the line with a defender running closely with him and the keeper running at him hit the ball cleanly into the back of the net. With the Rochdale players celebrating his 2nd goal of the season the umpire blew his whistle well after the goal and then signalled that it didn’t stand.
After the half time it was clear that the disallowed goal had an effect on the Rochdale players as they allowed Didsbury back into the game with a soft goal. Rochdale struggled to get back in the game and Didsbury began to take a lot more possession. This meant that the Rochdale defensive line had to absorb wave after wave of attack and Brian Robinson in goal made a string of stunning saves both in the air and on the ground.
Finally with Carney back in the middle of the park, Rochdale regained control of the match and a string of good plays allowed Kieran Hunter to score the 3rd and final goal of the game. This was enough to kill off the game and see Rochdale secure all 3 points.
Dean Close ” The team played well today and the substitutes helped maintain the intensity and structure. With these 3 points it puts us 1 point behind the top 2 teams after St Helens drew to Bury. If we keep our momentum up we are going to finish the season in a strong position.”
The Flying Horse Man of the match went to Brian Robinson.