Hockey: Buxton Mens 2nds 5 -1 Rochdale Mens 2nds

Date published: 30 September 2021

Rochdale opened the new 2021/2022 hockey season with a tough away fixture to Buxton Mens 2nds on Saturday 25 September. With the new divisional format devised by the Northwest Hockey League both teams were relatively unknown to each other for the early morning push back.

Rochdale came into the fixture on the back of a long pre-season and despite unforeseeable injuries to a few players sustained during the last few weeks of preparation, the mood in the camp still looked positive for the traveling twelve.

With changes in personnel and a new formation to complement the players available, captain Adam Massey came with a plan. The home side, which boasted an even mixture of youth and experience in the line-up started the proceedings as Rochdale formed a half press without breaking the half way line. The initial few minutes consisted of Buxton shifting the ball right to left and left to right across the back line without moving into threatening areas as Rochdale were very resolute in quickly plugging the gaps for any potential through balls.

With the attacking patience versus defensive focus, Rochdale were slowly starting to stifle the home side and equally turn over the ball for quick bursts of counter attacking. First up was Bjorne Brauns playing on the left of a three-man midfield to pick a pass and sprint forward with purpose linking well with centre forward Kane Morgan and left winger Dean Close for the first of many half chances. After each play the away side would drop back to the half way in what proved to be an effective tactic.

As the match progressed, the home side were starting to find small gaps in the forward line, but Barry Gumbley and Richard Saggerson forming a solid partnership with Michael Bohanna and Dave Jackson either side, kept any ventures into their ‘D’ to a minimum and any effort on goal was met with great footwork from debuting goalkeeper Dean Colasurdo who was a constant voice at the back.

Still at 0-0 both teams were unable to find a telling final ball for a clear opportunity, until a lapse in concentration in attack for Rochdale had them scrambling back to defend a counter. With some neat play from the captain and James Trainor on the right wing, Buxton turned defence into attack with a quick overload down their left culminating in a first opportunity one-on-one with Colasurdo, with the ball squared to the back post the towering keeper swept the ball aside for a long corner, which Rochdale dealt with great ease.

Rochdale did eventually carve a good opportunity to take the lead when some clever work for Brauns and Morgan lead to a first short corner for the away side. A perfect injection from Close was equally met with a stop and push into the ‘D’ from Manny Ahmed, but with the ball slightly ahead of the captain, the strike rose above the bar into the back fence. Rochdale were left made to pay for that miss as moments later Buxton drew the first punch with a swift move in similar fashion to their previous down the left and a sweeping ball past the far-right post was met with a deft reverse touch right back across the face of the goal to creep in, 1-0.

A well worked move and finish from the home side was deserving on the balance of play and with renewed confidence going forward, the home side started to carve more opportunities with able young runners linking well with the experience of their two forwards. It started to turn into an ongoing battle between Buxton attacking against Rochdale defending. Bohanna was called into action to thwart the young left winger on numerous occasions, in one of the highlight battles during the game.

Rochdale started to employ aerials into their game with Gumbley finding Morgan high up the field to initiate a few counter attacking opportunities. A quick response was needed and chances came Rochdale's way in quick succession, firstly, a clever one-two through the middle with Ahmed saw captain Massey with an opportunity to hit the ball reverse stick once inside the ‘D’, but his turn back to his strong side allowed the defender to block his effort which resulted in the ball going wide.

Up next was Morgan, after Gumbley thwarted a Buxton quick break. His crisp hard-hitting ball wide right to Trainor, developed into a move and shot which was directly at the keeper from Morgan. The later stages of the first half saw the game open up expediently, resulting in both sides finding close opportunities and set pieces. Some frantic defending from Rochdale saw Colasurdo called into action beating a shot away with his glove and then later with his feet to clear his lines.

Rochdale's clear chances started to dwindle as a deeper Buxton defence marshalled any crosses from the channels, a quick break away starting from Jackson to Brauns found Rochdale's second debuting player Adam Boodeea down the left wing. The fifteen-year-old's composure on the ball was impressive, he was unwavering from challenges and played in Close, whose a turn and lifted cross into the D was blown for dangerous play by the umpire to end a promising move.

Another chance from a defensive situation saw Saggerson release Brauns who charged down the left, cutting into play and switching to the right channel for an onrushing Bohanna to join the attack. With numbers in the D his strong effort evaded everyone to roll out to the baseline.

Rochdale continued to play the same pattern with everyone holding the half way line at every opportunity but Buxton were able to produce a second and third goal in quick succession through short corners due to Rochdale failing to pick up the rebound after Colasurdo initially saved both shots.

The first short corner was a simple injection and strike at the top expertly saved by Colasurdo but with the rebound falling back to the striker, his control and flick over the stranded keeper down the middle was met with nothing but net, doubling the lead to 2-0 Buxton. It was far less than the away side deserved as they managed to produce the better chances in the first half but 2-0 turned into 3-0 in familiar fashion. Saggerson was penalised for a foot inside the D on the baseline after patiently marshalling a Buxton attacker out wide. The resulting goal, this time a slip wide and shot was saved again by Colasurdo only for a quick-thinking attacker to poach home before any defender could react.

Rochdale continued to press forward and finished the half stronger creating two more good scoring opportunities.

After a brief break and discussion from both sides, Rochdale started the second half on the front foot with intention to score the next goal and looked more likely from the display of hockey on show. With some patient interplay from the back line and midfield, the away side dominated early proceeding, as both Jackson and Bohanna were given a licence to venture into more advanced positions as a useful outlet on each flank. Some close both control and neat passing allowed a resurgent Massey, Brauns and Ahmed finding more spaces behind the Buxton midfield to express themselves.

Chances came in waves for the away side as the midfield trio started to dictate tempo. Edging closer to a break through, Buxton started to create their own problems sitting deep as Rochdale played keep ball constantly. With space opening up for the away side, Close was the first to pounce on some confusion in the D, but his first-time sweep on the left flashed past the near post.

Morgan had the next effort on goal, slicing an effort wide on the right side. Buxton started to have long spells of defending as a rampant away side pressed man to man. The tactic proved to be fruitful for Massey's team with pressure forcing Buxton into individual passing errors down their left to an advanced Bohanna keeping close tabs on the left winger for multiple turn overs. For large spells this was a common factor on Rochdale's ability to control the flow as Buxton started to telegraph some of their passes.

After a short spell of persistence, Rochdale would find the goal they worked hard for. After a quickly taken long corner to a deep anchor in the form of Gumbley, his quick hard hit into the D was picked up by Brauns and from his quick pass across the face of the goal, Morgan’s deflected effort was parried away by the keeper’s pads into the path of Boodeea who made no mistake tapping the ball in from close range to mark his senior debut in a league game with a well-deserved goal to his name, 3-1.

The onslaught continued resulting in a few short corners for the away side and a golden opportunity came Rochdale's way when a strong attack led to a shot and another save from the keeper. This time, with the ball striking Morgan high into his body, the umpire awarded a penalty flick. After some consultation between the umpire and second umpire, the decision was correctly downgraded to another short corner which Rochdale failed to convert.

The game again started to open up as fatigue settled in and chances from both sides were coming thick and fast. Buxton flashing shots wide of Colasurdo’s post, Brauns producing a moment of individual magic receiving the ball whilst on the floor, evading two challenges, get back up on his feet and beat another defender then draw a foul, from the resulting free hit, the unmarked Brauns found time and space, but his shot was sliced well wide of the Buxton net.

At the other end, Saggerson and Jackson were kept on their toes, the former making a timely block of a pass to deny the attackers opportunity to go one on one with Colasurdo and Jackson expertly disposing a forward in the D to play the ball forward and initiate another attack for Rochdale.

The home side started to find more success from their 16-yard hits via the aerial route, twice clearing the press to the forwards and with extra numbers on the bench, the game started sway slightly in favour of the home team. Denied from open play by good goal keeping and admirable defending, Rochdale continued to take more risks knowing a second goal would change the final stages of the second half.

The gamble would eventually prove to be Rochdale's downfall as their own search for the second goal would lead to Buxton adding a fourth and fifth goal to close out the match 5-1 winners. The fourth started off with the away side losing the ball inside the Buxton's D, a quick counter attack down their right creating six versus four situation resulted in a clinical tap in. The fifth goal was equally swift with a hint of good fortune as the same play was read by Colasurdo beating the attacker to the cut back only for the loose ball to be tapped in.

Rochdale closed out the game with one final chance from the captain, his pick up inside the D to turn and shot point blank was saved and fell to Massey but with defender and keeper in close proximity his second effort was again blocked and then cleared.

Rochdale's mood after the final whistle was still upbeat as it was a very positive performance for a first league game with everyone excited about next weeks home tie to Sale and an objective to claim three points.

Man Of The Match Award: Adam Boodeea

Rochdale squad:
Dean Colasurdo, Michael Bohanna, Barry Gumbley, Richard Saggerson, Dave Jackson, Adam Massey (c), Manny Ahmed, Bjorne Brauns, James Trainor, Kane Morgan, Dean Close.
Substitute: Adam Boodeea

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