With Saturday’s disappointing last minute defeat, the ladies were desperate to come on top thus; motivation was high!
The intensity of the game was high from the first whistle meaning each unit was working hard. However; with Manchester Uni pushing high down the pitch, the defence was soon feeling the pressure. With the middle – made up of MacDonald and Hodcroft – tirelessly tracking back to help the defensive unit, it was starting to become clear Rochdale weren’t going down without a fight.
The goals from both teams came in fast succession after a lovely cross from Pickering on the wing, Rachael secured her third for the season early on, proving an established member of the senior ladies team. However; Man Uni were quick on Rochdale’s tail and it wasn’t long before the score was 1-1. The second goal for Rochdale came from Banks, who despite announcing her retirement in 2017 and taking on role as coach, has returned to her spot upfront. Again, the opposition weren’t going to let Rochdale take this one with ease so they launched another attack on the every fatiguing defence which took the score to 2-2. With the game nearly over, both teams knew they had everything to play for to come out victorious to get through to the next round of the cup. It wasn’t long before Man Uni went 3-2 up which left Rochdale hungry for another goal. Goal machine banks however, delivered for Rochdale after a whole team effort saw the ball being intercepted by Owen in the D, passed to Collinson who sent it into the middle to meet Hodcroft. Hodcroft sent it back to Monghan, a wise decision as it gave Rochdale time to recover their formation, before it was sent flying to Newton on the left wing. Newton skilfully took it around the oppositions defence and the ball met Banks in the D, who slotted it home, sending the crowd wild.
The final whistle was blown and the game ended 3-3 however; with the impending penalty flicks, the pressure was still on! Captain Knowles organised her squad and selected Pickering, Banks, Monghan, Burrell and herself to take the penalties. With keeper Partington unable to play due to other commitments it was up to Brammer to come face to face with the opposition. Initially it looked as if Rochdale had worrying times ahead as Man Uni started off leading 2-0 nevertheless; Brammer decided enough was enough and became a saving sensation. With Burrell scoring the first of our penalties and Monghan the second, it was all down to Captain Knowles to lead us to victory. Without a seconds thought, Knowles sent the ball flying in to the top right hand corner of the net, leaving the keeper baffled. A goal first for Rochdale’s keeper and a very memorable goal at that!
Captain Knowles: “This was as well battled game and a great effort made by all. Defence needs a special mention as they kept it strong throughout. We started to see a formation to the team throughout the game and it definitely went in our favour. Great game and a great result having won on penalties.
Player of the match: Gemma Hodcroft.