Rochdale welcomed Stockport Bramhall 3’s at home on Saturday with hopes of winning the three points. After winning the South East Manchester side in the cup, the ladies were hoping to come out victorious again.

The whistle blew signalling push back with both teams battling hard within seconds of the first half.

The first goal came from Stockport after a few short sharp passes saw Rochdale’s defence spread across the D. Despite a valiant effort from the unit – made up of Gill Owen, Nicky Mongan, Becki Moon, Hannah Palmer, Alexandra Bedford and Dionne Collinson – the ball snuck passed keeper Sam Partington. Captain Knowles kept the ladies spirits up by reminding her players it was all still to play for which encouraged positive communication throughout the pitch during play.

Rochdale had many opportunities created by Roisin Pickering, Jenny Banks and Becky Knowles with some excellent passing but it was proving to difficult to penetrate the strong oppositions defensive lineup.

At half time the score was 1-0.

The second half was much the same with Rochdale ensuring each ball passes by Stockport had someone marking and applying pressure. The quality of Stockport’s passes reflected this as they became rushed and Rochdale benefited as they gained most of the possession. This allowed superstar defender Owen push up the pitch and support. They then took the opportunity to attack. With middle legends Paula MacDonald and Gemma Hodcroft manning the middle section Stockport we’re unable to get passed. Hodcroft intercepted the pass before sending it ahead for MacDonald to run on to who sent it to Becca Smith on the left wing. Smith used her speed and agility to run it to the D and pass to Knowles. Stockport started to panic and sticks were flying around with little skill involvement. Smith then made her run after Knowles cleverly passed square, Smith sent it flying home and scored her first – well deserved – goal for Rochdale!

With some well thought out swaps on the pitch from Captain Becky Knowles, the team continued to push high with energy levels being maintained throughout. With a whole team effort it is clear to see Rochdale are benefitting from coach Banks’ training sessions, taking on board the instructions and applying them during game time. Despite this, the game ended 1-1 which has only spurred the Rochdale ladies on for the upcoming fixtures.

Man of the match went to Gill Owen who not only played brilliantly in defence but also pushed up the pitch to offer support to the attacking units numerous times. A great display of hockey from Owen.

Captain Knowles: “Really well battered game, the score didn’t reflect the effort made by all. Each week we seem to be getting stronger and stronger.”