After another month with no hockey due to pandemic restrictions, this weekend Rochdale were finally playing their first home match for the season. Hosting Stockport Bramhall Ladies 3s on a cold but dry Saturday.

Yet again Rochdale were able to field a team with multiple subs. Keeper; Kate Brammer. Defence; Dionne Collinson, Nikki Mongan, Becki Moon & Gill Owen. Midfield; Gemma Hodcroft, Kieran Leech, Paula McDonald & Roisin Pickering . Forwards; Katie Burrell & Becky Knowles. With Jenny Banks, Becca Newton & Hannah Palmer for rotating subs throughout the game.

The game started fairly evenly, with both teams getting time on the ball and play occurring in both ends of the pitch. Rochdale managed to break through with a good hit from Leech into space in Stockport’s defence, Pickering made a valiant effort to get to it but unfortunately Rochdale were unable to capitalise on it as Stockport defended. A long corner gave Rochdale a second attempt but Stockport were able to intercept and then made their own run back down the pitch, with some great work from Rochdale in an effort to stop them, before their shot finally went wide of Rochdale’s goal.

Knowles and Collinson both put in some excellent work in midfield and defence to keep possession of the ball and to deny Stockport the opportunity to go on an effective attack. Mongan also showed some great defensive skills – including a mid-air stop! – along with great communication skills as she indicated which players needed marking, allowing Rochdale to intercept a Stockport sideline ball and go back on the attack.

Pickering, McDonald and Hodcroft worked well together in the midfield to work the ball between them and around the Stockport players to get back up the pitch. However, their good work was undone by Stockport who defended well to reclaim the ball. Their run on Rochdale’s goal was solidly stopped just outside the D.

A Rochdale free hit from Owen easily found it’s way to Leech, who passed it down the wing for Banks to run on to. After weaving her way around a couple of Stockport defenders she took a shot on goal, but was denied a goal due to a good save from the Stockport keeper. Rochdale were awarded two short corners in quick succession, but were defeated by the Stockport keeper making another good save.

After another Stockport attack Moon, McDonald and Pickering embarked upon another drive up the pitch, all three players working well together and making good use of the right wing. After another attempt on goal Stockport made another break, and with Rochdale pushed up to attack it looked like three of Stockport’s players had a good chance on the goal. However, Collinson, Owen were on hand to stop them as Moon raced back to help. Stockport got a free hit deep in Rochdale’s defence, but Hodcroft got in with a deflection which made it easier for the defence to clear.

As Stockport made another attempt to pull back and switch around Rochdale’s D, McDonald intercepted them and hit the ball up the pitch to Burrell. Stockport rallied and reclaimed it, but their efforts were short lived as a great kicking save from Brammer saw a halt to that effort as the defence cleared it back up the pitch.

Hodcroft and Pickering were back on a run, passing between each other to get around the opposition before Hodcroft crossed it into the D, where Banks picked it up and passed it off to Burrell who tapped it in.

Spirits were high at half time as not only were Rochdale one nil up, but they knew they were playing some excellent hockey and they couldn’t be happier with their performance. Short of a few more goals, anyway.

The second half started much the same way, with both teams playing well and play being driven up and down the pitch accordingly. Rochdale were able to easily defend one short corner whilst their forwards and midfield continued to work hard to create chances on goal. Newton almost had at least one goal from the back post.

A Stockport short corner due to a Rochdale foot finally saw Stockport even out the score with a well placed strike. Rochdale were disappointed, but determined to get themselves back in the lead, knowing that they could easily do so due to the current quality of their play.

However, the match went downhill from there due to some perplexing decisions that saw both team’s frustrations increase, and eventually saw Stockport getting another goal. Both teams kept digging and pushing to try and score more goals, but the game never really recovered.

Final score was 2-1 to Stockport, with goal scorer Katie Burrell.

Player of the match was Gemma Hodcroft and umpire’s player of the match was Roisin Pickering.

Captain’s Pickering and Knowles said: “It was great to be back playing hockey in our first home game of the season. Great team effort today with loads of positives however a poor umpiring decision cost us the point.”