The New Year fixtures started earlier for Rochdale as they had a re-arranged game against Stockport 4th team to slot in.
It’s was a cold, miserable day and not the sort of weather you would want to play hockey in. Rochdale were at full strength though and they welcomed back Nikki Monghan in defence and Becky Knowles was making her first appearance since giving birth to her beautiful little boy only 9 weeks ago!!
Rochdale started the game quite sluggish and you could tell they had over indulged somewhat over Christmas. They put together some good passes but they seemed to be panicking and not playing the hockey they were capable of. This was working to Stockport’s advantage as they were intercepting the ball on numerous occasions stopping Rochdale creating any form of attack on goal.
Encouragement from the Rochdale supporters seemed to give Rochdale that bit of a boost and after a good 20 minutes they did begin to play the hockey they were capable of. Roisin Pickering and Dionne Collinson were showing a good understanding of each others movements on the right wing and this was giving Pickering the opportunity to run at the Stockport defence.
Rochdale’s break soon came with a great run by Pickering down the right wing. She crossed the ball and Jenny Banks took a first time shot and this was saved by the keeper but with her attacking instincts there was the on rushing Becky Knowles ready to pounce. 1-0. Knowles was back!!
This gave Rochdale the confidence they needed and with solid work in the middle by Kate Brammer, Paula McDonald and Gemma Hodcroft Stockport were struggling. It wasn’t long before Sarah Ransome picked the ball up on the left wing and made a straight pass to Hodcroft who charged through the Stockports defence and into the D area. Hodcroft took a shot which was saved by the keeper but desperate for a goal Hodcroft carried on and slotted the re-bound expertly home.
Stockport did fight back and they had several attacks into the Rochdale area but defenders Gill Knowles, Brammer, Monghan, Becky Moon and Sam Partington were there to see the ball away.
They wanted another clean sheet!!
Just before the half time whistle Rochdale scored another goal. Banks picked the ball up and went on one of her scampering runs. She took the ball round 3 Stockport defenders and keeping her composure professionally pushed the ball past the goal keeper.
3-0 half time.
Pickering made a few changes at half time in order to give players a breather and straight from the whistle Rochdale showed their dominance once again. Molly Barker was working hard down the left wing and making some fantastic runs which were leaving the Stockport’s defence for dead.
Rochdale saw themselves attacking the Stockport goal on numerous occasions but the Stockport goal keepers reactions were second to none and she was displaying some fantastic saves from shots off Katie Burrell and Banks.
Wanting more goals Rochdale pushed and pushed. Becky Moon decided to show off her skills with a great pass to Pickering who unselfishly passed the ball to Banks who on her weak side used her reverse stick to sneak the ball passed the keeper.
In the final 10 minutes of the game both teams were showing a lack of fitness and some of the shots made by Rochdale were poor.
Banks did mange to get one more shot on target though which snuck in passed the keeper and wrapped up the game and gave her another league hat-trick.
Player of the Match – Jenny Banks
Umpires player – Molly Barker
Captain Roisin Pickering ‘We knew it was going to be a difficult game today due to the Christmas break but we got the job done. We will now start back at training and even though we won 5-0 we do have work to do to get back up to the standard we are capable of’.