Rochdale mens 2s hosted Didsbury Northern mens 5s at Oulder Hill on Saturday and were going into the match fresh off a defeat to now top of the league St Helens and were determined not to be on the receiving end of another loss.
The game started at great pace with both sides pushing high and both sides playing with a high intensity from the off. It would however be Rochdale that were closest to scoring first with Dean Close and Kieran Hunter making a break at goal just for it to bounce over Hunters stick, but this was just a taste of what was to come for Rochdale.
However, that would have to wait as Didsbury managed to earn a short corner early on and managed to put it under Brian Robinson and past Dave Jackson on the post to give them an early lead.
Unfortunately, history was about to repeat itself as Rochdale were on the receiving end of another short corner decision, this time Didsbury managed to flick it over the diving Robinson and again past Jackson on the post, with a well worked routine and Rochdale found themselves 2 goals down.
This lead would not last long with a brilliant pass from Bjorne Brauns from the half way line into the bottom right corner of the pitch to Kieran Hunter who slipped it between two defenders for Close to calmly slot in the back of the goal to make it 2-1 at halftime.
The team talk was all about composure, keeping shape and sticking to the plan that Coach Aasim Chaudhry had set out. The Rochdale players responded well to this and were moving with a lot of energy and the effort they started to put in was second to none.
Rochdale played most of the second half with only 10 men, as a stream of green cards from Didsbury’s umpire. However, Rochdale’s hard work made it difficult for the opposition.
With Rochdale having got 11 players back on the pitch for a few moments Aaron Hunter ran the ball, with assistance from Brauns, into the D and made a well timed and weighted pass to Liam Nutter, who managed to score his first goal, a huge achievement as he had only started playing for a hockey this year, just going to show its never to late.
With the time counting down and Rochdale being put under pressure a very contentious decision was again made to give Didsbury a Penalty Flick. After much debate from all the Rochdale players and coach to the umpire about the decision the flick was taken and sent Robinson the wrong way as the ball ran into the goal, with less than 5 minutes on the clock.
Robinson showing frustration with himself said something which the umpire didn’t like and sent off captain Close for 5 minutes. At this point it would have been easy for Rochdale to give up. But with coach Chaudhry’s words ringing in their ears, Rochdale showed grit and determination and back with only 10 men Aaron Hunter made a spectacular run from the half way line and calmly slotted the ball in the goal to earn Rochdale a very well deserved point with a gutsy performance.
Captain dean Close
All the players today showed that through grit and determination, as well as playing for each other as a team, that they can certainly pull out a result that would seemingly be impossible. I as a Captain could not be prouder of how the players pulled together and showed that Rochdale play as a team.
Man of the Match Mark Vynne.