Hockey: Stockport Bramhall Men's 2nds 4 - 2 Rochdale Men's 2nds

Date published: 19 February 2024

Saturday 17 February saw Rochdale Men’s 2nds playing away against Stockport Bramhall Men’s 2nds. Rochdale had one substitute, but several players were carrying injuries. Stockport had a few substitutes and a better average age. Rain was expected, but thankfully held off until after the match.

​Rochdale were keen to make a good start, but Stockport had done their homework. The away side were playing high and making some passes through in the midfield, but were looking vulnerable on the counter. There were a couple of early warning signs, as Bramhall won a few penalty corners, but the defence held for a time. Niall Baker was hit in the foot from an early penalty corner, playing a full match with what later turned out to be a broken toe.

​It was not long though before Bramhall would make it count from open play. The first goal came from a counter attack down Rochdale’s right. The ball was worked into the circle. A melee erupted around the penalty spot. Goalkeeper Dean Close took a knee in the head from someone, as he tried to clear and the ball was forced across the line in the confusion. No foul was seen, so the goal stood.

​With Rochdale not yet at the races and their unsettled from the first goal, it was not much longer before Bramhall doubled their lead. Another counter attack broke through the middle this time, creating a 2 on 1. The centre back came out to stop the top D strike and try to pick the pass off, but to no avail. The pass found the overlapped forward, who struck first time to score from the wide angle.

​Rochdale pulled James Trainor on and put him at right back. He made an immediate impact, with the away side’s back line more settled and better able to play out from the back. The away team started making inroads into Stockport’s half. Things were getting better, but the match was getting more competitive, as a player from each side was sent off. A Bramhall midfielder got a green card (2 minutes in the sin bin), a Rochdale midfielder got a green for the same, but it was upgraded to yellow (minimum 5 minutes, but can be up to the end of the match) for verbal dissent, meaning he was off for the remaining ten minutes of the half.

​It was not all going to be bad news in the first half for Rochdale, as they would get a goal back. Adam Massey threw an ariel across Bramhall’s D to Lee Robinson, who recycled the ball. It was laid off for Mike Bohanna, who struck a firm hit, slightly wide, for man of the match Massey to convert at the back post. Rochdale had got themselves a toe hold back in the game. The half time score was 2-1 to Bramhall.

​A controlled telling off was necessary at halftime from coach Imran Ansari. The infighting and emotional instability had caused problems for the away team. To get something from the second half, they needed to focus on the hockey, stop the service to Bramhall’s forward line and prevent counter attacks. They also to look to create more opportunities and try to win some penalty corners.

​Rochdale started better in the second half, playing a much more controlled game and more of it in Bramhall’s half. The away teams defence were tighter to Bramhall’s forwards and did a good job of picking up the interceptions. Rochdale’s press was also working more effectively, making it difficult for Bramhall to get anything through.

​It was from a high press that Rochdale would get an equaliser. The ball flicked up to head height from a Rochdale foot, but the Bramhall defender handled it before the umpire blew, so a Rochdale free hit was given. Taking it quickly, Joseph Shannon moved the ball five yards and slipped a pass for captain Massey on the penalty spot, to lift the ball in to the top of the net for the second goal. Bramhall weren’t happy, but the goal stood.

​The away team had to defend a little deeper to take the sting out of Bramhall, but they were soon back in control again. They created a few decent chances, with a couple of break throughs forcing good saves from Bramhall’s keeper. Two deflections nearly came off, being denied by random bobbles on the pitch preventing a connection being made. A short corner straight off the training ground almost came off, but to no avail. With ten minutes to go and the score at 2-2, Rochdale would rue their missed chances.

​Some fresh legs from Bramhall’s bench, got an attack going down Rochdale’s left. They succeeded in breaking in to the circle and managed to bundle the ball to the back post, where it was swiftly converted. A fourth goal was added not long after. This time the forward worked it in from the baseline, after breaking down Rochdale’s left. He faked the cross and shot, getting lucky and finding the back of the net. Rochdale came up with a plan to get two goals with a minute left, but it was too much to ask and the final score was Stockport Bramhall 4 - 2 Rochdale.

​It was a tough game, that Rochdale could have done with getting a result, as they’ve got some tough games coming up against the top three teams. Once Rochdale settled after a bad start, they played their way into the game and its one they could have got a result on another day. Compared to how the results went in the past, it shows how far Rochdale have come to be in contention against teams that were beating them heavily two years ago.

Man of the match was Adam Massey, for a great performance, capped off by two goals. Next week’s opponents are Timperley 4’s at home.

Report by Graham Broadley.

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