Hockey: Rochdale Men's 2nds 2 - 6  Didsbury Men's 4ths

Date published: 20 December 2023

Rochdale Men’s 2nds hosted Didsbury 4ths on Saturday 16 December, in a rearranged fixture, after the original had been called off for a frozen pitch a few weeks ago. The weather was much better this weekend, clear and sunny, a little chilly but nowhere near frozen.

Unfortunately, due to the rearrangement Rochdale could only field a bare eleven, with a few players carrying injuries or fighting chest infections. Didsbury on the other hand brought the maximum 16 players and meant business.

Didsbury had the push back and soon drew Rochdale out, before trying to find a way through. Didsbury had the lion's share of the possession in the opening exchanges, though Rochdale did manage some attacks of their own. Adopting a high press, the away side made it difficult for the home side to play out from the back and won themselves a few penalty corners.

​These were well defended by the boys in orange and they got some counter attacks deep into Didsbury’s half. Unfortunately, this would be Rochdale’s undoing for the opening goal. Didsbury had a counter of their own, exploding quickly down Rochdale’s right. They then worked the baseline, before transferring the ball across goal to the extra man at the back post from the overload, to get the first goal.

​Didsbury added a second not long after. Again, with Rochdale high up the pitch, Didsbury countered and got the ball to their forward. He controlled it and got into the circle, before slotting into the corner past the onrushing keeper, to double their lead.

​Adam Massey was determined for it not to be one way traffic and duly put his captain fantastic cape on. Rochdale got a penalty corner of their own. The ball came to the top of the circle, was switched to Massey on the right, who cooly carried it forwards past a defender, before despatching a rocket of a flick into the top corner to get a goal back for the home side.

​A second goal was added not long after by Richard Saggerson in excellent style. winning the ball in the opposition’s half, he calmy took control to allow Massey time to run to the baseline, allowing Saggerson to slip a perfectly weighted pass to Massey. Massey then did a J run, before passing the ball across the goal for Saggerson, who had run to the back post with electrifying pace for a tap in. The scores were now level at 2-2.

​Sadly, Didsbury got a goal back before half time. This time they built the attack up down Rochdale’s left, bringing bodies across to create an overload. The ball was then worked back from the baseline to the top of the circle, where it was struck fiercely into the bottom corner.

​It had been a good half for Rochdale, going toe to toe with Didsbury and not much difference between the sides. Unfortunately coach Imran Ansari wasn’t on hand to offer any words of wisdom for the second half, but it was decided to go back to basics, play out from the back and mark tighter. Spirits were high going into the second half.

​Rochdale had a bad opening ten minutes which allowed Didsbury to get the next goals, which set the tone for the second half. Breaking down Rochdale’s left, they worked the ball in again before moving it across to the back post for a tap in. They added a second not long after; a bad decision to play through the middle from a 16, due to pressure from Didsbury's high press, led to a quick counter down the middle, which was worked in swiftly and punished with a great strike to put Didsbury in control at 5-2 up.

​The home side did manage to play a bit from here, as Didsbury sat back. Rochdale won a few penalty corners and created some half chances, but were unable to convert. There were some outstanding saves from man of the match Dean Close, who dug an undercut out of the top corner, as well as winning the ball and having a forward bounce off him. Didsbury would add a final goal though. An amazing solo effort from the 23 metre line saw a forward dance past three defenders, before putting it in the roof of the net from around the penalty spot.

​It was always going to be a tough game today, against a side competing for promotion. Rochdale gave them a run for their money, with a good first half performance, but were always struggling for fitness in the second half against 16 lads in their prime. Didsbury worked hard, ran us ragged and were worth their win today. That’s it for a good first half of the season, getting nine points and just about being out of the drop zone. After a short break, the team will be back in training to get ready for their next game on 13 January.

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