Rochdale were beaten away against Leyland & Chorley Mens Seconds in the last fixture of the season.
With the Leyland first team having nothing to play for, several first team players dropped down in an attempt to secure a win over Rochdale and leap frog them in the league.
For the first 20 minutes Rochdale had Leyland pinned in their own half. Attack after attack continued to keep the Leyland keeper on his toes, each time though he did just enough to keep the ball from finding the back of the net.
Rochdale thought they had broken the deadlock when a shot found its way past the keeper in a crowded D, the ball appeared to cross the line before the Leyland defender cleared it, and Rochdale rose in celebration but the umpires gave the benefit of the doubt to Leyland.
Rochdale continued to press and got their just reward when a slick passing move, which started on the half way line with Imran Ansari, ended in the Leyland D with a cross from Graham Broadley to Andy Meanock who slipped it past the keeper.
Even with Leyland’s controversial team selection Rochdale were more than holding their own and were unlucky when Leyland equalised just before half time. Both umpires were called together as Rochdale felt the ball had hit a defender’s stick last before looping over the keeper, but the goal stood and the teams went into the half time break level.
The second half saw Leyland beginning to find a rhythm, with quick counter attacking play.
One of the counters Rochdale managed to break down with a timely interception by Dave Jackson. Rochdale moved the ball quickly up the field and Meanock found the back of the net to claim his second of the game and give Rochdale the lead.
With 20 minutes on the clock Leyland were awarded a short corner, and after a stop from Brian Robinson in the Rochdale goal the ball fell to a Leyland player who lifted it over the stranded Robinson and between the legs of the defender on the line.
The goal brought the teams level again, although Rochdale again felt aggrieved at the goal standing because of the height of the original strike appearing illegal.
With less than 10 minutes on the clock Leyland broke swiftly and caught Rochdale off guard and for the first time in the game took the lead.
Rochdale never gave up and with under two minutes to go were awarded a short corner. Ansari stepped up to the top D to receive the injection from Broadley and struck his shot. The ball flew into the back of the net, equalising with the last touch of the match. With appeals from the Leyland players, once again, for the third time the umpires came together and disallowed the goal and the game was over.
Captain Karl Wynn: “The game today was full and controversy, particularly on Leyland first two goals and on what would have been our equaliser, but the umpire’s decision is final and that is what we have to go by.
“Without these umpires doing what they do, sometimes a thankless task, we wouldn’t be able to play the game at all and on behalf of Rochdale Hockey Club I would like to thank all those who have umpired for any of our teams this season, it is very much appreciated.
“This was our last game of the season and as much as it is disappointing to finish with a loss, today showed we can hold our own and gives us a great platform to build on for next season.”
The Quat-Chem man-of-the-match was Andy Meanock.