Saturday saw Rochdale going away from home to take on top of the table West Derby. With only two subs and the brilliant Manny Ahmed playing through injury it was going to be a tough game.
West Derby started quickly from the off and created some threatening openings but the Rochdale defence held strong. Building from the back, Rochdale started to play their way back into the game and created some promising attacks of their own. The opening goal could have gone either way but it went to West Derby with a thundering reverse stick strike just sneaking in inside the post, showing Rochdale’s defence couldn’t give them an inch.
Rochdales reply was almost immediate with a well won penalty corner after man of the match Adam Massey showed some clever play. The resulting penalty corner eventually working it’s way to Sean Carney to convert with a reverse hit if his own to level the score.
The half continued but during some sustained pressure Dave Marlow went off injured from a high ball deemed not dangerous. Missing his important interceptions Rochdale conceded another goal, after keeper Jimmy Deacy was left unsighted. Another for West Derby followed from a penalty corner to put West Derby 3-1 up at half time.
The next goal was going to prove crucial in deciding the match. And, after a rousing team talk Rochdale came at West Derby with all guns blazing, leaving a little in reserve to stop counter attacks. West Derby were content to go to a half court press and kept Dale at bay for a while. That was until Dean Close combined with Bjorn Braun’s to get it back to 3-2.
Rochdale dropped back to half way for a little while, then slowly started to build up the pressure to again pin West Derby back. Unfortunately however Rochdale overcommitted and West Derby broke through the lines and there was little Rochdale could do to prevent a tap in due to West Derby superior pace. A bit down but undeterred Rochdale continued attacking trying to get back into the game. Some more promising moves with some early releases to the forwards forced West Derby into some goal line clearances but Rochdale would score no more.
The last goal came from another West Derby break, with keeper Deacy trying to cut out the easy square ball but then unfortunately being unable to prevent a bungled shot sneaking past him, as it slipped away from him as the game had now for Rochdale.
Captain Tim Liptrot “It was a tough game against the league leaders, we put everything in and gave them a game but in the end their more clinical finishing earned them another win. Home fixture next week will hopefully give us more legs and back to back home wins”.
The Flying Horse Man of the match was Adam Massey.