Rochdale v Horwich in semi-finals of the divisions 3/4 cup

On the second match of a full weekend of fixtures, Rochdale hosted Horwich for a cup semi-final match, on a sunny but windy day.

Most of Rochdale’s team was the same as their previous match that weekend. Keeper; Sam Partington. Defence; Kate Brammer, Dionne Collinson, Becki Moon & Hannah Palmer. Midfield; Gemma Hodcroft, Kieran Leech, Paula MacDonald & Roisin Pickering with sub Jennie Ransome. Forwards; Molly Barker, Becky Knowles & Sarah Ransome rotating during the first half.

After yesterday’s excellent performance, Rochdale were hoping to continue to get themselves through to the cup final.

After some back and forth play up and down the pitch, Rochdale were awarded a short corner – which turned into three short corners – before finally breaking the cycle as the attackers passed the ball around Horwich’s defence to find the far post, where both MacDonald and Ransome were waiting for it, with MacDonald winning the goal by neatly tucking it into the goal.

For the most part Rochdale spent the remainder of the first half keeping play high on the pitch, with most of the action happening at the attacking end of the right wing. However, after numerous attempts on goal – all of which were well saved by Horwich’s keeper – a free hit from Horwich’s defence broke through Rochdale’s midfield. Two of their attackers took their chance and powered down the pitch to find themselves a goal.

At half time Rochdale were frustrated, knowing that they could play better than they currently were doing. But it was constructive, with all the players keen to share their observations about their current performance and the opportunities they could create for themselves. Rochdale started the second half with a team change, bringing Becky Knowles back into defence in place of Hannah Palmer, bringing Sarah Ransome back into midfield and pushing Kieran Leech up front – something that would soon pay off.

The changes and team talk seemed to do the trick, as Rochdale’s confidence was back and they found their form, and it wasn’t long before their midfield worked hard together to weave between Horwich players before passing it to Leech who took a quick hit and scored.

Horwich were still determined to try and gain an advantage, but Rochdale’s defence were ready for them this time, and refusing to give them an opportunity to break through. Each time intercepting before firing the ball back to their midfield and attackers. Possession was in Rochdale’s favour for the most part, with Horwich occasionally fighting their way back towards the other end of the pitch.

A successful bit of defending from Rochdale saw the ball hit out to the left wing where Ransome collected it and drove up the pitch before hitting it past Horwich’s defence were Leech picked it up, taking it into the D and keeping her cool when Horwich’s keeper went in to tackle her, and calmly nudged it behind the keeper where Barker was able to ensure it crossed the line.

A long corner taken by MacDonald gave Rochdale another goal, passing to Pickering who took it to the baseline before passing it back into the D, and Hodcroft received it and took a shot, which was initially saved, but ready for the rebound from the keeper she caught it again and changed the angle and found the goal.

Nearing the end of the match Rochdale found the confidence to push more of their team up the pitch again, and Knowles was able to find a pass to Leech who hit it in for the final goal of the match.

Final score was 5-1 to Rochdale, with goal scorers Paula MacDonald (1), Kieran Leech (2), Molly Barker (1) and Gemma Hodcroft (1).

The player of the match was Sarah Ransome, and umpire’s player of the match was Paula MacDonald.

Captain Pickering: “Another truly amazing display of hockey today – you wouldn’t think we have had a double weekend! It’s been immensely successful and today marks our 12th consecutive game unbeaten. Winning today also secured our place in the cup final. Well done ladies, you make my job effortless.”