Rochdale again started the game missing key players but form the very beginning were very strong and attacking, leaving the Manchester Uni. defence in shock and unable to handle the relentless attacks. Gemma Hodcroft and Paula McDonald bossed the midfield using the return of Sue Halpin on the wing to their advantage. Pushing forward at every opportunity Hodcroft and Halpin were sending in crosses that unfortunately were just missed out on.
Both sides played a very strong and physical game. No backing down from Rochdale though, they stood firm in the middle. But Rochdale’s luck ran out when Hannah Skinner had to retire due to a nasty stick tackle to the wrist which forced her to come off injured.
Manchester saw the advantage and began to pile the pressure on having an extra player which meant the whole of Rochdale team needed to help out in defence. Gill Knowles returning to the team put and extra special shift in not letting anyone past her. No matter how fast or skilled they were. Her stick was a barricade.
With all the added pressure Rochdale began to concede short corners to Manchester, none that looked at all threatening as, Kie Leech running number one, made it to D top to stop them before Manchester had time to set themselves. Leechs running combined with Beckie Moon manning back post and Sam Partington being on top form in the Rochdale goal kept Manchester at bay and both teams went in 0-0 at half time.
The second half started with Rochdale looking tired after a hard battled first half of defending and Manchester came out looking like they had all just had a full recharge, within minutes Manchester had broke the deadlock to go 1 up.
This just speared Rochdale to fight harder and they started to push higher up the pitch. This did leave them a bit short at the back and it wasn’t long before the counter attack of Manchester got them to 2-0.
With nothing much left to loose Rochdale pushed the whole team high, with even Knowles making a run into the opposite half! They showed some great spirits and did everything they could, chased down every ball, worked to get every pass but they just couldn’t get a goal. Not long before the end Moon had to retire from the game. This left Rochdale down to 9, which the 16 player squad of Mnchester took full advantage of and finished off the game 3-0.
Captain Kie Leech “We left feeling proud of our performance as a team but we are desperate to find our goal scoring magic back.”
Player of the Match was Paula McDonald.