Saturday saw another thrilling battle for the quickly improving Rochdale men’s 2 team as they went away to Prescot 2s.
The match started in earnest with both teams starting well. It was Prescot however who took lead after playing themselves into the game with some very impressive play out from their own 16 hits, eventually developing into a well worked goal higher up the pitch with little Rochdale could do to stop it.
Determined not to give up however this would be the only goal Rochdale would concede with the defence proving capable of stopping everything else Prescot could throw. Rochdale front line started to stem the feed to Prescot forwards by cleverly channeling them to Rochdale’s strong side. This allowed for rich pickings from the Rochdale midfield with the quick legs allowing for numerous interceptions leading to clever forward play. This led to the first Rochdale goal after an overload down the left channel allowed Aaron Hunter to shift the play back to brother Kieran unmarked in the centre of the top D to smash in the first of his brace.
Sustained Rochdale play led to numerous penalty corners being awarded and inevitably one was converted by Dean Close, albeit in controversial circumstances. After much debate between the umpires the goal stood and Rochdale went in 2-1 up at half time.
Determined to build on the end of the first half performance, Rochdale changed to the alternative formation with the wide forwards coming shorter to pull defenders away from the D. This worked well throughout the second half with the young legs and swift passing ability really tearing Prescott apart, with sustained pressure two goals came in quick succession.
The first saw some quick link up play with Peter Ransome receiving a pass expertly on the run and transitioning into an excellent push pass to in form high forward Sean Carney to beat the last defender before smashing into the top corner again from D top with a devastating tomahawk. The second was an equally impressive display of physical strength and speed, with Kieran Hunter bursting from deep (while covering inside forward for his temporarily injured brother) to calmly finish an exquisite move by simply guiding the ball past the keeper with a single touch. Learning lessons from last week, Rochdale maintained the shape and depth in defence and keeping discipline high saw the game out with a solid performance, especially from man of the match contender Karl Wynn.
This strong defence display increasingly frustrated Prescot, which led them to loose their heads start receiving silly cards and start squabbling with each other. A good job from Rochdale’s view point as at times Prescot showed some good Hockey and could potentially have hurt Rochdale, had their discipline held.
All in all it was great all round performance from a team that continues to drive and improve every week. It took a bit of debating to pick the Flying Horse man of the match this week, but it was felt Kieran Hunter deserved it for playing excellently in 3 positions, scoring 2 goals and responding well to changes in instruction.
It’s a pleasure to be part of such an enthusiastic talented team and I am very much looking forward to next week’s match against South Manchester.