Rochdale faced local rivals Oldham in a Sunday fixture at home, with Oldham securing promotion early in the season, the Rochdale ladies were going to have to dig deep to take the win.

Rochdale ladies pushed down the pitch providing support for the defensive unit – made up of Becki Moon, Gill Owen, Dionne Collinson and Kie Leech – as Oldham continuously attacked their third with hopes of penetrating the D and getting a head start early on. However, it was Rochdale who got the first goal after a spectacular break from a hit out. Moon received the ball from Owen before passing to Roisin Pickering on the right wing. Becky Knowles made a run down to the right-hand corner of the pitch where she received the ball, she then crossed it to Gemma Hodcroft who sent it flying into the back of the net bringing the players and supporters off their feet in delight! The goal was a fantastic display of taking the opportunity when it presents itself. The ladies remained composed and used strong, thoughtful passes to send the ball home. This is just what the Rochdale ladies needed after a very tiring start to the game! The intensity of the first half remained high as both teams battled to keep the ball away from their defensive thirds. Oldham tried to level the score line on numerous occasions but there wasn’t any opportunity to get past keeper Sam Partington – who made the saves look effortless. Partington used her skill and experience to make well-timed decisions which massively paid off. However; Oldham took the opportunity to launch another attack on Rochdale after a loose ball was claimed by their upfront player. After a quick pass was made, the ball slipped past the defence and Sam. Unlucky for Rochdale but with still the second half to play the girls were not going down without a fight. The first half ended 1-1.

The second half was much the same with both teams eager to score to nail down the three points however, fatigue started to set in and as the sun beamed down the level of play dipped. Rochdale welcomed back Hannah Skinner – left back – who hassled well down the pitch to re-gain possession whilst working hard with upfront players Katie Burrell and Rebecca Newton to impale Oldham’s D. With Paula MacDonald sticking to her player like Velcro, she played an integral part in limiting the options Oldham had to pass to, by taking the player out of the game completely whilst Hodcroft tracked the quick paced middle Oldham player with ease. Sarah Ransome used her quick pace to receive balls down the pitch and worked well with Knowles who often dribbled around the Oldham players leaving them tangled in a sea of sticks. Kie “pocket rocket” Leech defended remarkably in the second half, not allowing any injections into the D from the left-hand side of the pitch. Owen and Collinson worked well together in the middle to create a strong wall with Partington behind communicating to direct play. Whilst Moon was working hard with Pickering on the right-hand side of the pitch to limit access forcing the Oldham players to use the middle channel. With a brilliant display all round, Rochdale’s fans couldn’t have asked for much more. Oldham managed to get another goal towards the end of the second half after a very lucky tap in. Whilst this was disappointing for Rochdale they were not quite willing to give up just yet and fought continuously throughout. Nonetheless, the game ended 2-1 to Oldham.

Whilst the ladies did not get the three points they were hoping for to end the season with a win, they have definitely shown their potential with the fantastic score today against the top of the league. It’s been an unlucky season for the ladies as they have worked so hard to try and keep themselves away from the bottom of the table however, whilst many may look at this as a very unsuccessful season, Rochdale would not agree. They have gained some new players, welcomed some juniors up and had the opportunity to play some good hockey at a higher level than the previous season therefore; have gained experience and an insight of what to expect when they head back up to the second division in the near future.

Captain Kie: “What a game to end the season on! Although we lost 2-1 our game plan worked, to not let them get many past us. Excelled effort put in by us all today working brilliantly together and everyone putting 100% in, we never gave up which also sums up our season. Well done ladies!”

Player of the match was Hannah Skinner