Hockey: Manchester Manto 1 - 1 Rochdale Ladies

Date published: 09 January 2024

Rochdale Ladies' first hockey match after the festive break was a rearranged fixture away against Manchester Manto.

Rochdale started with a bang, with a goal within the very first minute of the match. Knowles on the left of midfield passed the ball to Burrell who had run to the top of Manto's D, she tapped it to Yates who was ready inside the D who in turn deflected it past the keeper and into the goal.

If they weren't already, that energised Rochdale as they fought hard against a determined and good opposition. Rochdale's defence was coordinated and when they were able to break their strikers were ready to take advantage. Collinson and Leech were utilising their short, sharp passes to open up the space to get the ball to their midfielders, which got the ball to Burrell high in the midfield, and her only available pass was to space in the top left, unfortunately no one was free or fast enough to catch up with the ball to utilise it.

Those quick passes proved very useful, as McDonald interrupted a Manto pass, and Pickering was able to gain possession of the ball, tapping it to Burrell, who in turn passed it the short distance back to McDonald. This opened up some space for McDonald to hit it down the pitch for Yates, who tapped it back to Burrell who was in a better position to be able to slam it up the pitch. Unfortunately a Manto player was able to jab into the hit resulting in a free hit for Manto.

A short corner in Manto's favour was well closed down by Rochdale's defence, but Manto were still able to take a pot shot across the goal, but Partington was faster and stuck her leg out to deflect the ball skimming the rest of the way across the goal and off the back line before the Manto player running post could get to it.

On another Manto attack, McDonald was working hard to shut down the Manto player with the ball near the top of Rochdale's D. Her reverse stick disrupted her opponent's hit as it lifted towards the D, but Knowles was able to tap it back down to the ground and attempt to clear it. Manto were able to recover and had another shot on goal, only for Partington to save it. A battle for control of the ball ensued between several players before Manto were finally able to see it over the line and draw level.

Just before half time Manto won another short corner. Leech hurtled straight out to the player receiving the ball and got her stick to it. The ball bounced towards another opposition player, but Collinson was already running towards them forcing them to fire it off before they were properly ready, where Hoyle was waiting with her flat stick to put an abrupt end to the ball's path, before flinging it out wide out of danger.

Rochdale continued creating chances to pull ahead again throughout the game. One of their closest chances from a long corner taken by McDonald, who fired it towards Moon, who feinted by leaving it for where Knowles had run behind her on the way to the top of Manto's D. Knowles continued her run and then took a shot at goal the moment she was across the line, but it went just wide of right post.

Partington made several excellent saves throughout the game, but her standout moment was when she threw herself to the floor to bodily stop the strike Manto had just made on her goal. She staunchly stayed in place despite another player having tried to run past to deflect in, holding both herself and stick in the way until the ball was safely seen over the backline away from her goal.

A separate counterattack saw a fantastic hit from Collinson find Pickering on the right wing, who - brilliantly - managed to find a way to weave between all of the opposition players between her and the other end of the pitch. Manto's defence finally closed her down there, and she and Moon did some excellent one-two passing for Pickering to finally get into the D, but no Rochdale players were well enough placed to be able to convert the opportunity into a goal through the defence.

The final part of the game was mostly characterised by the determination from Manto to force another goal. They knew the clock was ticking and they were playing attack heavy to try and capitalise, but Rochdale's defence were having none of it. With the midfield back to help them mark out the players they closed down a lot of the attacks before they became dangerous, and with Leech working hard on the left to disrupt their opponents and Hoyle ready to block with her trademark flat stick and clear they were able to hold the scoreline until the ball was back in their possession. Rochdale weren't able to try and make a similar last dash for a goal because the final whistle went just as they took their free hit.

Final score was 1-1, with Arabella Yates as Rochdale's only goal scorer.

Player of the match was Samantha Partington.

Captain Collinson said: "A brilliant start to 2024. Arabella scored within 26 seconds of the first push back which fuelled Rochdale’s fire. Well done Arabella! So proud of the fight we put in today. Well in girls. It’s a good start to the second half of the season.”

Rochdale's team:
Keeper; Sam Partington.
Defence; Dionne Collinson, Claire Hoyle, Kieran Leech, & Hannah Palmer.
Midfield; Becky Knowles Paula McDonald, Daisy Parton & Roisin Pickering.
Forwards; Katie Burrell & Arabella Yates.
Substitutes: Lily Black & Becki Moon.

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