Rochdale anticipated Sunday’s game would be difficult as they took on top of the league, Stockport Brahmall 3’s, in round one of the all division cup.
With Gemma Hodcroft (middle), Gillian Owen (defence) and Samantha Partington (keeper) unable to make the game, Rochdale had to work even harder. However; they welcomed back defensive legends, Katie Brammer and Kie Leech.
Whilst some aspects of the game could be described as challenging, as a whole Rochdale stepped up to perform brilliantly with the whole team shining bright. The first half started with Rochdale showcasing some brilliant high tempo hockey despite the cool temperatures. The first goal came shortly before the first half finished with short, sharp passes from defence – made up of Nicky Monghan, Dionne Collinson, Becky Moon and Leech – , through the middle to meet Paula MacDonald and Roisin Pickering before it travelled to Jenny Banks (upfront) who passed to Katie Burrell who skilfully sent it home. The opposition launched a few attacks however; failed to penetrate the strong defensive line up in the first half.
Rochdale maintained a high level of hockey throughout the second half, whilst fatigue set in, the energy to win was enough to keep the players pushing on to secure the win they so desperately wanted. The second goal was scored by Becca Smith who cleverly sat on the back post anticipating the cross before sweeping it passed the keeper. With two goals and a clean sheet Rochdale were spurred on to keep the spirit high. They had many opportunities to score as Katie Burrell, Pickering and Banks worked hard attacking the defensive opposition however; it wasn’t not meant to be and Stockport launched a counter attack. Within moments they took a shot on goal, after clearing the ball to their upfront players and the score was 2-1. This did not deter the Rochdale players who instead stood strong, maintained composure and finished the game as well deserved winners.
The game was a very positive experience for all involved, with Rochdale comfortably winning the match against the top of the league. This will be great for their confidence and it is fantastic to see all players improve each game, especially there highly regarded juniors.