In a change to the scheduled fixture Rochdale managed to arrange a friendly with Bramhall away in Stockport. They are in the division above Rochdale even after the recent league restructuring, so it was always going to be a tough test.
It was a tricky opening ten minutes as both sides wrestled for control of the game and Rochdale got used to the pitch and get their eye back in after missing a week. Neither side created many opportunities in the early phases but it was to be the premier division side that would open the scoring. It was a bit of individual glory from one of their wingers, who managed to weave his way through a few half challenges and with a little fortune favouring the bold got through several bodies at the top of the circle before rounding the keeper and slotting it into the goal. The Rochdale captain, Michael Waddicor, was not happy as several players committed to the tackle and made it far too easier for the opposition to work his way to the goal.
Rochdale didn’t let their heads drop though and battled a way back in, earning several penalty corners and started to force a few saves. Unfortunately a goal didn’t come this half. As the half began to conclude, there were some signs that the match was becoming less friendly, as a lot of strong physical challenges started to go in. There was some protesting from both sides but the umpires were content to let the players go with verbal warnings.
Initially things were a little calmer at the beginning of the second half, as both sides remembered it was supposed to be a friendly. It was not to last long however. Though Rochdale were enjoying more of the possession, they were unable to find a way through. Similarly Bramhall were getting frustrated at not having more possession and being unable to add to their lead. The game started to get increasingly physical as tempers boiled on both sides. Ultimately it was Rochdale who were to come off worse in the cards stakes.
With the game getting dangerous and the lower league side having 2 players yellow carded for two soft calls. It wasn’t long before Bramhall made there numbers advantage count as they were awarded a penalty corner. It was duly drag flicked into the net just above the backboard on the keepers stick side.
The game wasn’t finished yet however and as the players returned from the sin bin, Rochdale were again on top of possession and creating some chances of their own. After earning a penalty corner, the away team forced a defender in front of goal to stop it with his feet. Initially a penalty flick was awarded but a display of sportsmanship Rochdale took a penalty corner as the keeper was still behind the defender and probably would have stopped it.
The subsequent short corner resulted in a penalty flick, but there was no protest from Bramhall this time as the defender was on the line when he stopped a flick shot with his shoulder. It was duly converted with confidence by Waddicor, to add to his tally for the season. In the closing minutes of the match Rochdale were unlucky not too bring the score level, as they controlled the game and created some good opportunities through shots off Rob Lees and Kieran Hunter. It would end 2-1 to the home side, though neither side were really at their best on the day.
Captain Michael Waddicor said “Our defence has made a strong start this year, and it was needed in the first half. The likes of Tim Liptrot returning to the 1st, along with the ever consistent Daniel Bowe and constant improving Danny Ramsbottom has allowed the midfielders to concentrate more on attacking. The young lads in Peter Ransome and Luke Rosebury never stop working to sure our midfield up, which allows myself, James Shepherd and Ric Borritt to concentrate on the counter attack”
This week’s Flying Horse man of the match was awarded by the opposition to captain Michael Waddicor for some dangerous runs and a well finished penalty flick.
Report by Michael Waddicor