Hockey: Rochdale Ladies v Didsbury Northern Ladies (friendly)

Date published: 21 April 2021

Rochdale hosted Didsbury Northern Ladies 5s for a friendly match on Saturday 17 April, and both teams were looking forward to it, especially after missing so much hockey.

The main ladies hockey league for 2020/21 has been cancelled due to the pandemic. However, now that outdoor sport has been allowed to resume, a friendly set of fixtures has been arranged with a total of seven matches for each team involved.

A minutes silence was held before the match out of respect for the late Duke of Edinburgh, whose funeral was being held later that afternoon.

Rochdale started strongly yet defensively, tackling and intercepting well and holding the ball in the midfield and passing around the opposition to keep possession, but not making much progression forwards until a strong hit out from their defence after a Didsbury attack opened some space for them.

Rochdale got an early opportunity after they were awarded a short corner. Refusing to let such a good moment go to waste they nimbly bounced the ball between themselves and around the Didsbury defence before Banks was finally able to tap it into the goal.

Some excellent work from Hodcroft holding the ball in the centre ground before being able to pass it off to Pickering for a run down the right wing gave Rochdale another chance when Pickering crossed it into the D where Newton was in a good position but just unable to reach the pass to convert it into a goal.

Didsbury were awarded a short corner of their own for a stick tackle at the very edge of Rochdale's D. However, Rochdale were ready for them and Collinson was able to swoop in, steal the ball and clear it down the pitch where Banks was able to claim it and made a run from the halfway line and into Didsbury's D before passing it off to the far post just too far ahead for Knowles to get a deflection.

Some excellent work from the midfield, with Ransome and McDonald working well together to get around the opposition allowed Rochdale to push up as a team with another attempt on goal. A moment of overconfidence that Didsbury took advantage of when three of their players broke back through after intercepting the ball. Despite their best efforts Rochdale weren't able to recover and Didsbury managed to snag a goal.

After her last couple of attempts on goal had been foiled by the Didsbury keeper sliding out from the baseline to tackle her, this time Banks feinted to the side and passed the ball off to Hodcroft who was able to nip past what was left of the defence to knock the ball into the back of the goal.

Another short corner awarded to Didsbury saw them change tactics, using shorter passes in the hopes to outmanoeuvre the Rochdale defence. With Collinson running interference and Owen and Palmer blocking any shots out of Partington's reach, Mongan was able to clear it off to the left wing.

Some more good work from the midfield gave Knowles a chance to break through and pass the ball off to Burrell, who managed to drive it towards the goal and cross it into the D, where Banks was able to receive the ball and taking her shot quickly found the back of the net for her second goal of the match.

Didsbury pushed forward more heavily as time was against them, but Rochdale worked well to defend and hold them back, though eventually they did get back into Rochdale's D, but Partington wasn't letting another ball slip past her and made a couple of excellent saves before finding the opportunity to kick the ball out of the D and remove the threat. Rochdale were in the middle of making another push for a goal when the final whistle blew.

Final score was 3-1 to Rochdale, with goal scorers Jenny Banks (2) Gemma Hodcroft (1).

Player of the match was Jenny Banks and umpire's player of the match was Roisin Pickering.

Captain Knowles said: "A good start to our round of friendly matches. Well done ladies!”

Rochdale squad
Keeper; Sam Partington.
Defence; Dionne Collinson, Nikki Mongan, Gill Owen and Hannah Palmer.
Midfield; Gemma Hodcroft, Becky Knowles, Paula McDonald and Roisin Pickering.
Forwards; Katie Burrell and Becca Newton.
Substitutes: Jenny Banks and Jennie Ransome

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