The game started on a somber but celebratory note with both teams gathered in the centre circle to remember those that had fallen in the line of duty in both past and present wars.
Rochdale started the game with only 10 men as one player had got stuck in traffic and subsequently missed the opening few minutes which would prove crucial in the first half. However, Rochdale did show their resilience and were quick to push South Manchester into thier half with several well worked attempts into the D but with no end product.
It was then on the counter that Rochdale were being hit with the same punishment that they had dealt out to South Manchester with one major difference, a goal. Rochdale were once again on the back foot and were having to repel great amounts of pressure being directed at them and at one point all 11 Rochdale players were compressed in their own half. The South Manchester pressure was such that it felt like they had an extra player on the pitch at all times managing to work the ball to someone who was free.
This continued South Manchester pressure created a chance for a short corner which would ultimately put them 2 – 0 up but Rochdale were not going to go out of this game without a fight and managed to create some very good counter attacks from both wings and centrally. An error from the South Manchester defender was picked out by Graham Broadley with a wonderful touch to Dean Close on the wing who fired it across the D to Bjorne Brauns, who then pushed it down the middle to Andy Meanock who slipped it into Niam Willis who masterfully slotted under the keeper and into the back of the net.
The goal came at a good time as it raised the hopes of Rochdale and definitely brought them back into the game before half time at 2-1.
Rochdale started the second half really positively with some good attacks earning their first short corner of the half and with a well worked routine managed to press the keeper with a few attempts but each was snuffed out by their defenders eventually.
As the second half ticked by, Rochdale’s fitness and composure dropped with South Manchester constantly pressing the attack. The midfield and defence did great work to try and keep the attacking team at bay, but when Brauns got sent off for 5 minutes the task became harder. Rochdale compressed their line up in an attempt to survive without Brauns, but South Manchester with their available subs started to dominate the game and quickly added 2 more to their tally.
Rochdale did everything they could to deny them of any more goals but the proving more and more difficult and within the last minute of the game Rochdale conceded another short corner which was nearly kept out, but, in a repeat of last week, it was put on to a Rochdale defenders foot on the line and a a penalty flick was awarded. This penalty flick would prove to be the last movement of the game. The South Manchester player stepped up and flicked it past Brian Robinson in the Rochdale goal to make the final score 5-1.
Captain Karl Wynn “The guys played with heart and determination today, but our lack of strength in depth within the squad showed. Once again the last 20 minutes have proved crucial to the outcome of the game.”
The Atticus Trophies man of the match went to Brian Robinson for another outstanding display in goals.