Hockey: Rochdale Men's 1sts 3 - 2 Bowden Men's 3rds & 5ths

Date published: 15 December 2020

Rochdale Men's first team returned to action on Saturday 12 December with a friendly against Bowden, after their league match was called off by the opposition.

Following four weeks without hockey, it wasn't going to be as straightforward as it should have been, considering most of Bowden's team play a division or so below. That said, in the opening minutes it looked like Rochdale were going to run riot as they definitely started the brighter - pinning the home side deep in their own half.

A few strong opening shots flashed across goal and one rattled the post but was cleared by some quick defending. Rochdale did think they had opened the scoring as Barry Gumbly, returning from a bad injury, rounded several defenders and hammered it in the bottom corner from the top of circle. However, the umpires deemed the ball was struck just outside the scoring area and awarded a 16-yard hit to the defence.

Surviving these early scares gave the young Bowden side a bit more confidence and they started to get their shape and game plan into operation. The play was still predominantly with Rochdale but Bowden forced a few penalty corners and some decent efforts from their reverse sides but these were well handled by Rochdale's back three.

The opening goal would fall for Bowden however, as a failed interception allowed one of their midfielders to control the ball on the halfway line and drive at the defence. He had speed and enthusiasm, drove to the 23m line and hammered it across circle, finding one of their experienced forwards who slid in and guided it into the backboard.

Bowden had the lead, albeit against the run of play but they had showed some promise. A little stung and realising they had to go up a gear, Rochdale continued to pepper the Bowden goal and control most of the possession. A goal would prove elusive this half however as the home side went in a goal up.

With a strong team talk, it wouldn't be much longer before Rochdale got on the score sheet. Several times the Bowden team were lucky to clear shots from Gumbley, Rob Lees, Michael Waddicor, Dave Gowers and Ellis Barnes. However a well worked move, that started with a run from Gowers on the left, a slip right to Ric Borritt who beat a man and laid the ball off for a first time shot from Peter Ransome resulted in the Bowden keeper saving the initial shot. It was captain Waddicor who brought Rochdale level, by reacting first by diving in to knock the ball over the line.

The level scoreline didn't last very long, as Rochdale's back line got caught trying some new defensive tactics which allowed an unmarked Bowden forward to tap in an easy goal at the back post for Bowden's second.

Mercifully Rochdale’s forwards got them off the hook pretty quickly with a great response. Some brilliant passing play between Borritt and the experienced partnership off Gowers and Gumbley found Gowers putting in an excellent first time shot played to him by Gumbley to level the score again.

It was still Rochdale who looked the most likely to win, but time was starting to run out. Lees thought he had found a way through as he hammered a rebounding ball in from the top of the circle but it was ruled out for dangerous play, and Gowers chipped the ball over the keeper only for it to hit the crossbar. However with about two minutes to go Lees finally got the winner with a brilliant reverse stick strike into the top corner to secure a 3-2 victory for Rochdale.

Captain Michael Waddicor said: "We were obviously rusty at times today and we let ourselves down with moments of poor passing and decision making. Bowden played a mixture of experience and talented youth prospects, and in the end it was a great game for spectators with the end to end play."

Captain Michael Waddicor was named the Oulder Hill Leisure Complex man of the match.

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