Saturday saw Rochdale Mens 2s take on West Derby at Oulder Hill leisure complex, in what proved a thrilling match with Rochdale earning a hard fought 6-4 win.
Making the most of emerging young stars Aaron & Kieran Hunter, Peter Ransome and Sam Wilkinson in the midfield, Rochdale quickly got a good pass and move game going. But after an early goal for West Derby for a 1-0 lead, Rochdale had to gather themselves and a move straight down the middle of a spectating West Derby defence found the talented Sean Carney to slot it in from close range for the first of his hat-trick and draw Rochdale level.
A similar move allowed the dynamic top goal scorer Aaron Hunter to slot home for Rochdale to take a 2-1 lead. Rochdale now started to get a few attacks going again and the pressure paid off. A strong cross from right half was partially blocked by West Derby at D top but the ball looped up off the weak side and floated nicely to Dean Close to smash the ball in safely with a nice cover drive style shot, giving Rochdale a 3-1 lead at half time.
At half time Rochdale’s coach Aasim Chaudhry reminded the team that this was going to be a tough game. Rochdale started brightly in the second half with Carney finding the backboard with a reverse stick strike from the first penalty corner of the half. Almost immediately after, as if to prove it wasn’t just luck, another breaking attack found Carney D top to lash it in with a hit from his reverse.
Determined to put up a fight and taking advantage of Rochdale easing off (not for the last time in the match) West Derby started to show that they did have some good ability going forwards. Some promising attacks led to a series of penalty corners being awarded, one of which was expertly put away.
Looking to freshen things up, Rochdale coach Chaudhry started facilitating some good bursts from subs Mike Bohanna, Bradley Robinson, Liam Nutter and George Rogers.
Again Rochdale took the foot of the gas at 5-2 up and allowed West Derby to slowly niggle their way back into the game. They even had it back to 5-4 at one point, but Rochdale’s attack started to rally for another goal. Some more threatening crosses started to fly across the West Derby D. With a strong one coming from the right baseline finding the talented young left half Wilkinson at the back post to provide a confident and calm finish beyond his years.
It was now 6-4 but it was still all to do with West Derby determined to score. They were constantly frustrated by a packed and clever defence that this time stood strong to see the game out, getting Rochdale a hard earned 3 points.
Vice Captain GrahamBroadley “While we did switch off at times, I am immensely proud of the mental strength and resilience the team showed to stop a talented West Derby side with the momentum behind them and keep the game out of their reach. Everybody played well today, with some very good Hockey played in parts. This week’s Flying Horse man of the match was Peter Ransome for doing an excellent job at inside forward in attack and defence. We look forward to playing Prescott next week.”