Hockey: Rochdale Men's 2nds 3 - 2 Stockport Bramhall Men's 2nds

Date published: 03 October 2023

Saturday 30 September saw Rochdale men’s second eleven at home on the astroturf at Oulder Hill school against Stockport Bramhall Men’s seconds. For the most part it was a pleasant autumn day, until the second half when the rain began to fall. Rochdale had a full squad and full five subs, Stockport had eleven and two subs, so there were plenty of fresh legs to go around.

Rochdale’s initial gameplan was to not concede, using the half court press, and use the young fresh legs of Richard Saggerson and Liam Haywood to wear Stockport down, to create openings for the more experienced forwards coming on. This plan went out of the window after about five minutes, when Saggerson intercepted the ball and charged down the left wing, leaving the defender in his wake, getting inside the circle and winning a penalty corner.

​Regrettably the D top strike was put slightly wide by Graham Broadley, but it was noted that Stockport looked weak at defending short corners, being very slow to close the strike and the options down. Rochdale became more confident, stepped up higher and created the better chances and had more possession for the opening 10-15 minutes, including another penalty corner which was narrowly missed.

​The first goals would go to Stockport however, the first against the run of play. A counter attack caught Rochdale’s defence high. The Stockport forward got the ball, turned his man, beat several players and slotted it in to the corner to give the away team the lead. A skilful display from a talented player, but I’m sure the Rochdale defence feel they should have done better.

​Stockport in red drew more confidence from this and created some good pressure on Rochdale in orange. They won a few penalty corners and managed to make one count. A switch to their right at the top of the circle, gave Stockport’s striker the chance at either corner. Choosing to drill on the defender’s weak side, he found the backboard in the right-hand corner to double the red teams advantage.

​The home side's heads could have dropped at conceding two easy goals, after such a promising start. However, the lads dug in and got into halftime at 2-0 down. Coach Imran Ansari took a different approach after nearly losing his voice from last weeks shouting. He delivered some expert points, cleanly and succinctly and imparted his faith in his players masterfully. There were a lot of factors that made difference second half and this was one of them, and boy was it a different story at full time.

​Rochdale in the orange made a strong start to the second half, quickly putting Stockport under pressure. Some great breakthroughs by Saggerson on the left resulted in some penalty corners. Taking the coaching points on board, this time the ball was switched right to midfield maestro Manny Ahmed. He expertly rounded a defender, convinced the goalkeeper to lie down and play dead, before squaring the ball to Broadley, who controlled it and flicked it into the open goal, to restore some hope for Rochdale.

​Some more penalty corners followed, Saggerson nearly getting on the score sheet again, but the equaliser would come from Andy Meanock. This time instead of injecting straight to the top of the circle, Kane Morgan pushed it straight to Andy. His first shot was saved, but the rebound came out to Saggerson, who laid it off to Broadley. Hearing the shout, he switched it left again to Andy. This time he found the backboard with a fierce strike to bring the scores level with around ten minutes to go.

​The game was far from over though and Dale's defence had some pressure to soak up. Several times when it was all looking lost, the inimitable Dave Marlow would spring in from nowhere with his lightning stick skills and save the day. There were some solid challenges from Mikey Bohanna, Ben Boodeea and James Trainor also, as well as a robust effort from all of the midfield.

​A big part of this game going Rochdale’s way was the team spirit and individuals winning their personal battles all over the field. One of these big moments, with the score at 2-2 and five minutes to go, was by the rookie field hockey keeper Mark Haywood. Stockport had again got to the baseline on Rochdale’s left and fired a cross in across the penalty spot that cleared its way through the defence. With a forward behind him, who would have scored without a doubt, Mark dived at lightning quick speed and deflected the ball away from goal for the defence to clear, keeping the score at 2-2 with minutes left.

​The game was very much still in the balance and could have gone either way. Rochdale soldiered on with the rain beating down and Trainor again broke through on the right and fired in a cross. This time Saggerson was in the right place and slotted the ball home with a first-time deflection into the top corner of the net. Stockport tried to get a goal straight from the restart, but there was barely enough time to get it near the 23m line.

Final score Rochdale 3 Stockport 2.

It was a challenging game for Rochdale against a good side, with a lot of good performances, Mark Haywood was amazing in goals, everyone dug deep and won their key moments or had a consistently good game throughout. Man of the match had to go to Richard Saggerson for outstanding contributions in attack and getting the all-important winner for the three points.

Rochdale seconds are away next weekend against Brooklands at the Armitage Centre.

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