Hockey: Rochdale Mens 2nds 1 - 3 Sale Mens 2nds

Date published: 08 October 2021

Rochdale entertained a Sale side on a rainy Saturday 2 October 2021 off the back of an underserving 5-1 loss away to Buxton, with high hopes to continue the impressive second half display during the much awaited first game of the season.

Returning to the starting line-up was Dave ‘Mini’ Marlow to partner Richard Saggerson in defence in one of three changes from last week's team. The second change was in the form of last week's man of the match player Adam Boodeea replacing captain Adam Massey on the right side of a front three and lastly Graham Broadley returning in a temporary forced change for Michael Bohanna at right back.

A very experienced Sale side started proceedings with Rochdale playing a familiar half press with everyone behind the ball as the away side patiently stroked the ball around the back line with ease. With rain pouring on down on the Oulder Hill turf, both sides were jostling for the ball. With stoppages in play limiting any fluidity for anything fruitful in both Ds, the battles in midfield and defence took centre stage. Notably, the home side's midfield trio of Bjorne Brauns, Manny Ahmed and Dean Close found it difficult to find any room in the middle due to the pressing of their Sale counter-parts and any ventures forward towards Kane Morgan, Adam Boodeea and James Trainor were equally thwarted.

The first effort came against the run of play with Sale finding much need space to work a clear opportunity and draw out a save from Dean Colasurdo with his feet. Dave Marlow followed up, clearing the ball to initiate a counter-attack by Rochdale down the other end with an energetic Morgan wriggling free of his towering defender to beat left back and drive to the by-line down the left which would unfortunately run out of play. It was the first real threat both sides could muster with Sale going the closest and it wasn’t long before Sale scored the first goal after some slick play throughout the team caught Rochdale out cold to finish an impressive move to go 1-0 up.

On came the changes for Rochdale boasting an impressive bench. Sean Carney replacing Close, Stephen Hirst replacing Boodeea and captain Adam Massey on for Trainor with attack being in mind. The tactical ploy opened the game up more as Hirst looking to impress with some fancy footwork and direct dribbling. Carney was equally imposing with his close ball control and passing range. Rochdale started to click more going forward, as Massey and Morgan found service inside the sale half. With Dave Jackson forming an understanding with Brauns on the left side. The home side had plenty of joy, starting with Carney joining in on the right, delivering some telling passes into the D on a few occasions to find his forwards not on the same wave length.

It wasn’t all Rochdale, as Sale started to find a more direct approach through some impressive strength in aerial ability from Morgan's marker. The towering defender was very menacing with his 16-yard set pieces piercing the home teams high press to meet able forwards at the home team’s 25-yard mark. If not for the heroics of Colasurdo, Rochdale could have found themselves two or even three nil down as each step play resulted in two short corners.

Rochdale's frustration started to show with some wayward passing in midfield and sluggish first touches taking its toll cultivating in a Sale second goal to compound the misery for a home team desperate to rediscover their pre-season form.

Fragility in key areas of Rochdale's inability were to be their downfall for the second goal as an easy turn over led to the eagerly attack minded midfield not matching their attacking appetite with awareness of the team’s defensive duties allowing a free-flowing move to end with a far post tap in for the away side.

Rochdale continued to plough forward in droves, with attacking intent and Boodeea made some good progress on the left and right channels with his hold up and link up play to bring in the advancing Brauns and Carney. With some neat display in front of the away sides D a resurgent Morgan found what little space he was allowed to earn the home side first short corner.

With Close on the bench and injection duties laid solely on Carney, the hockey savant performed his duties with perfection as his injection to Ahmed was stopped and pushed in for Massey to hit, the move was crisp under the weather circumstances and if it wasn’t for the quick agility of Sale's goalkeeper, the skipper could have been toasting a first goal of the season.

Chances started to weigh in at the other end with more heroics from Jackson and Bohanna, the former battling tirelessly with his opposite number and displaying incredible composure with some intricate play down his left to spring a few quick counters, but further forward a stubborn Sale defence showed no mercy as Morgan was on the brunt end of some strong tackles to leave him slightly hobbling.

This didn’t stop last season’s goal magnet as he continued on despite the visible discomfort. It was this determination that saw him start to drift wide to link up well with Trainor who started to grow with some neat touches and fine link up with Boodeea. The trio looked for some space and moved the ball with precision until entering the D where the play would finally break down. The home team rallied with Morgan in the thick of things, this time losing his marker outside his D to receive a ball from Brauns, his quick lay off to Ahmed breaking down after the midfielder's dreadful first touch allowing the defence to clear.

Rochdale would later have a final chance at the end of the half, through a patient build up in play creating time and space down the right channel, for a cross into the D. But this was to be another opportunity in a series of what ifs on the afternoon after the move and cross eluded everyone, from the Sale backline and a battling Morgan at the front post to reach the captain charging in at the back post for an easy tap in, but it was not be for the home side as the ever-reliable captain’s strong effort close range was to go wide to his own dismay. The whistle blew shortly after that pivotal moment in front of goal with the away side 2-0 up and Rochdale having to dig deep against the experience side they were facing.

After the much-needed interval, both sides started with the next goal in mind, whilst both defences were kept on their toes as both Saggerson and Brauns, the former growing into a huge presence at the back whilst Brauns was starting to impose himself more going forward.

For Saggerson it was his tackling in defence with Marlow, for Brauns it was his drive forward with the ball, dancing through the midfield. Rochdale had better chances during the second half the first, but Sale were matching that feat with their own distinguished style and fared better as they conjured more dangerous opportunities to extend the lead, firstly a short corner flashing well wide of goalkeepers left post, then a through ball kick out by Colasurdo to safety.

A goal was inevitable as both sides started to persist, Boodeea, venturing down the right channel, displaying a well matured attribute on the ball to evade one challenge and play it back to Brauns, resulting in a short corner. With Close injecting this time, the home team fashioned a well execute reverse hit effort on goal by Carney only to see the effort go wide and evade any on rushing players at the far post. Colasurdo was equally busy at the other end producing a wonderful stop at his near right post.

Sale were to provide the day's most memorable moment with a third goal though a short corner, a clever slip left to the away team's towering defender saw his first-time effort clear a diving Colasurdo into the far corner, just hitting the top of the back board. It was a well-executed set play and deserving for his performance marshalling Morgan in defence, 3-0 to Sale.

It was not the first time Sale had found themselves in this situation so early in the season as they were 3-0 up against a Bury side only to let that lead slip to close out their first game of the season 3-3.

With so much of the second half to go the home side looked to rally forward, but that was not to be the case as it was apparent the goal knocked the stuffing out of the home side as individual errors at key moments started to creep in and composure was nowhere to be seen.

First it was Ahmed who had a golden opportunity to set in motion a potentially dangerous counter attack, but his passing choice was easily read for the ball to go back the other way. Up next was Bohanna clearing the ball when it was easier to pass to a team mate, later Trainor unfortunately slipping at a crucial moment during attack.

The team needed something, some inspiration, ultimately that inspiration was to manifest for the home team in the form of Brauns, picking up the ball deep in his half to venture all the way to the opposition’s D. His change of direction stranded the defender to provide some much needed space for a venomous reverse hit into the top corner.

Any pundit around the world who witnessed the goal would probably remark it as ‘a potential contender for goal of the season’ and we are only at game two, so that is saying something. Now with the score at 3-1 Rochdale found the inspiration required to push for a second.

The home side were now playing a deep line and with the midfielders finding more pockets of space chances started to come in thick and fast - Carney this time in the thick of things down the right channel. Drawing two fouls in quick succession the midfielder showed great awareness to take the self-pass for a third time, run the required 5 yards outside D, and his low lofted pass into space found an eager Hirst to tap in making it 3-2. For a brief moment the home team were overjoyed for Hirst only to see the effort chalked off due to the ball inside the D deemed dangerous play by the umpire. This didn’t stop the home team as sensed more chances would come their way. Hirst following Brauns' lead with a decent run wide left resulting in another short corner.

Another Massey effort was cleared again by the goalkeepers’ pads with no one near for a rebound, the resulting clearance came straight back for another short corner, this time for a foul on Ahmed outside the D. Close continued to impress with his injections and a timely slip from Ahmed to Massey on the right drew out another save for the away goalkeeper.

Down at the other end Marlow was bossing proceedings at the back to keep the away attacks to a minimum whilst building the platform for more breaks with quick free hits but a short corner was the only notable chance the home team created in the end.

The game was to finally end 3-1 in favour of a well drilled Sale team for their first win of the season leaving the home side zero points from two games.

With now a search for a first season win in their mindset, the Rochdale faithful will firmly have their sights on next week’s fixture away to early league pace setters Timperley Mens 4s on Saturday 9 October 2021 knowing they will need to stay focused for all of the 70 minutes if they are to achieve the win.

Richard Saggerson was named as the man of the match.

Rochdale squad:
Dean Colasurdo, Graham Broadley, Dave ‘Mini’ Marlow, Richard Saggerson, Dave Jackson, Dean Close, Manny Ahmed (vc), Bjorne Brauns, James Trainor, Kane Morgan, Adam Boodeea.
Substitutes: Adam Massey (c), Sean Carney, Michael Bohanna, Stephen Hirst.

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