Hockey: Rochdale Men's 2nds 2 - 5 Didsbury Men's 4ths

Date published: 03 November 2023

Saturday 28 October saw Rochdale Men's 2nds play Didsbury Men's 4ths in the Lancashire Challenge Cup at Oulder Hill Leisure Centre. Rochdale had a strong team out, allowing for rotation, but so did Didsbury.

The game started at a high tempo, with Didsbury putting the home side under some early pressure. This was largely dealt with, the backline and midfield communicating well and denying the away team circle penetrations early on. Combined with good fighting spirit and a desire to push men on, it was not long before Rochdale started getting down the other end and attacking themselves.

​Unfortunately, the opening goal was to go Didsbury’s way. Rochdale were caught high, but did a good job of slowing the counter attack down. Didsbury managed to get through with the second wave though, as the ball bounced over a defenders stick, leaving a forward free to sweep in the opener.

​A second would be added not long after from a short corner. There was a little confusion in the new short corner defence routine on the first one, but it was still a better effort. The initial strike was low, hard and in the right-hand corner. It was blocked by the post man, but a second forward was on hand to quickly sweep in the rebound.

​It was not going to be a one sided first half though, as the desire to push high from the Rochdale side resulted in them getting a couple of goals back. The first came from a short corner. A quick D top injection was slipped left to Bjorne Brauns, who rounded a defender and slotted it into the backboard to get Rochdale back in the game. A second was added not long after from open play. A breakthrough on the left found Adam Massey on the baseline behind the defence. He ran in and found Brauns, who shrugged a defender off and while under pressure from the keeper, heard the shout from Kane Morgan on the penalty spot and for a tap in.

​Halftime score was a hard fought 2-2 and it had been a good performance on balance. Rochdale had struggled a bit with the fitness and pace difference of Didsbury, their high press was also fairly effective at causing problems. Generally, though it was just more of the same required, but better.

​The second half started brightly for Rochdale, with Didsbury largely penned back in their own half for the opening 15 minutes. Some of the hockey played in this period, was the best Rochdale have played all season. The passing, movement, overlaps, one touch layoffs, it was outstanding to watch. It resulted in a few chances and five penalty corners. Sadly, none of these were converted or it could have been a different result.

​Didsbury got a goal against the run of play about 17 minutes in and it completely changed the momentum of the game. They broke through the lines, charged forward from the halfway line, got inside the D and fired a shot home. This gave them the confidence to throw more bodies forward and Rochdale were largely on the back foot, as gaps started opening up due to tiredness. This would lead to two more concessions from open play.

​Didsbury’s fourth came not long after the third. Attacks down Rochdale’s left, were brought across into the centre, finding forwards coming through at pace, who got a shot off and swept the rebound in. They would get a final fifth goal in much the same way, but from the right. Rochdale did defend a lot of penalty corners in the second half, and kept them all out. Towards the end, the home side did manage to get a few more attacks going, but to no avail.

Final score Rochdale 2 - 5 Didsbury.

​It was a largely competitive game, with both teams playing good hockey at times. Didsbury were just fitter, quicker, better drilled and were more clinical when it mattered. It wasn’t a bad performance by Rochdale, but it’s a tough division this year. Didsbury 4ths will be somewhere near the top and, as it’s a free week, they likely fielded a full-strength squad.

Dale are out of the cup now and are back in league action, away at Timperley 4ths next Saturday 4 November.

Man of the match went to Kane Morgan.

Report by Graham Broadley

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