Rochdale M2s were looking to continue their winning streak at home to a Didsbury M5s on Saturday, with Didsbury sat 10 points above Rochdale in the league it was going to be a tough game. With 5 goals, one card and a decent standard of hockey throughout the match it was a good contest. If however you are reading expecting another Rochdale win, look away now.

With fresh legs waiting on the bench, Didsbury opted for an aggressive, high tempo start which caught Rochdale off guard. The first attack from Didsbury’s push back saw a driving run end up with a push shot from around the penalty spot, forcing a save from Jimmy Deacey and an alert Dave Marlow to clear the rebound.

More attacks came as Didsbury worked it round the Rochdale midfield and started to expose the defensive line. To watch from the side lines it was not really anything complicated, just good quality basic short pass and move at speed, sprinkled with a few weighted passes. As the chances started to rain down, the inevitable happened.

Having a man over down Rochdale’s right, Didsbury forced their way into the Rochdale D with some intelligent passes. A strike from the edge of the D forced keeper Jimmy Deacey to commit his weight to block the shot. Unfortunately the rebound broke kindly to another Didsbury forward, who simply flicked it into the empty space between the posts and over the line for Didsbury’s first.

Rochdale were determined not to give up easily however and slowly started to play a way back into the game, as the defence began to weather the storm. Rochdale started to get some attacks of their own going as the defence started to get the ball through and the midfield began to create opportunities for the forwards.

The half ended without another goal, but it was probably Rochdale who finished the half stronger after forcing the Didsbury keeper into a few saves and some near misses. It was to continue like this into the start of the second half, with Didsbury content to sit back and let Rochdale come at them. For a good while it looked as though Rochdale were going to get back into the game but it was not to be the case.

Didsbury won a long corner following a break. The ball was channelled down Rochdale’s left and then crossed over to the right (via a D top pivot), before being controlled and hit into the bottom corner of the goal. Two Rochdale defenders believed they were obstructed by third party forwards and that it also hit the Didsbury forwards foot. Unfortunately though, neither of the umpires could see it through a crowded D and the goal stood.

Sadly this was as good as it got for Rochdale. Didsbury were now defending a two goal cushion and just continued to hit Rochdale on the break, as they looked to score. There was some good play from Rochdale, getting past Didsbury’s press with ease and starting to have some joy from attacks down the wings. Regrettably it was just going to be one of those days.

The next two Didsbury goals were just simple tap ins at the back post, as Rochdale’s defence got caught out by some blistering pace from a few of their forwards. A final Didsbury goal came at the death from a penalty corner, with the ball being struck sweetly into the bottom corner before being deflected over the defenders stick.

Captain Tim Liptrot, “It was a frustrating day for Rochdale at the close of play, as it wasn’t really a bad performance it just didn’t click enough. While Didsbury were the better side and deserved to win on the day. They were not the most technically gifted side Rochdale have played against, but with strong off the ball movement, good game management and squashing play with tight defending they can cause anyone in that league problems. However I do think the score line flattered them as the difference in performance was not so great. Today’s Flying Horse Man of the Match went to Bjorne Brauns, whose high spirits, flare, discipline and work rate kept threatening to get something for Rochdale. We have three games left of the season and as results elsewhere went our way, we are still in the running for fourth spot. Hopefully with a bit of look we can round off another good season.”