After a strong start to the new year last week, today Rochdale ladies had their first cup match of the new year at home against Didsbury Northern Ladies 6s.

Rochdale started their game well, learning from last week to meet every ball, to play smart and make the ball do the work rather than the players. Though a few hiccups still occurred when they forgot to use the defence to switch.

However, this smart play gave them plenty of chances on goal, including a short corner. With Paula MacDonald taking the hit and Jenny Banks receiving, she easily slotted it into the goal.

Didsbury were not easily deterred and pushed back, their attacking players fast and well placed, but solid defending from Kate Brammer and Gill Owen – backed up by Becki Moon and Hannah Palmer – prevented them from any easy shots, with keeper Sam Partington well placed to stop any stray balls. Didsbury were awarded a short corner, but Rochdale’s defence weren’t about to give up their lead.

Gemma Hodcroft, Roisin Pickering and Paula MacDonald were well tuned to each other in the midfield, working well to find gaps in the Didsbury midfield and defence. Players Molly Barker and Sarah Ransome substituting each other for left field both providing excellent backup and tackles to help close down Didsbury’s attacks.

A break in Didsbury’s midfield let Rochdale get the ball back to Jenny Banks, who quickly took on the defence and took her hit at the top of the D to get a quick goal.

Now back into a rhythm Rochdale were making plenty of opportunities for their strikers, but Didsbury’s defensive work was strong, especially from their keeper, saving most of the balls played into the D.

At half time, soaked through after a heavy shower just moments earlier, Rochdale took stock; apart from a couple of farcical moments they were playing well, and to keep doing what they were doing.

After the second half whistle went, the midfield instantly made their way through Didsbury’s players, and Paula MacDonald found herself with the ball at the top of the D and took a hit, landing a neat goal.

Didsbury pushed back, but Rochdale were determined to keep a clean sheet, clearing every effort out of the D before finding a way back through to the midfield, aided by Becky Knowles moving to a more defensive midfield position, and allowing Moon and Brammer to push up to help make even more opportunities on goal.

This was eventually rewarded by a long ball into the D that Molly Barker was well placed to get a stick on it.

Both teams continued to dig in with determination, and with Jennie Ransome coming on as a set of fresh legs Rochdale were able to keep their opportunities coming and to keep up their defence, denying Didsbury any goals. Though they were unable to convert those opportunities into goals due to some excellent saves from the Didsbury keeper.

Final score was 4-0 to Rochdale, with goal scorers Jenny Banks (2), Paula MacDonald (1) and Molly Barker (1).

The player of the match was Paula MacDonald and umpires player of the match was Roisin Pickering.

Captain Pickering: “The ladies positive attitude going into today’s quarter final couldn’t even be deterred by the awful downpours and cold winds. We stayed determined throughout and our whole hearted teamwork got us a well deserved result. Semi finals here we come!”