Hockey: Rochdale Ladies 1 - 6 Didsbury Northern Ladies 5ths

Date published: 28 February 2024

Back on home turf this weekend, Rochdale were hoping to pick up where they left off, and build some momentum in the last portion of the season. They knew it would be difficult with no substitutes, but they were determined to go out and play their game regardless.

Which they did, and they did it well, even with several players out of position. Kie Leech and Dionne Collinson were pushing hard to help the attack when Rochdale had the opportunities. Claire Hockaday took every shot at goal she had opportunity for, especially with Becki Moon up front helping fire the ball to her. Claire Hoyle was guarding the top of Rochdale's D in her usual steadfast fashion.

Even though they went behind early, that didn't stop them putting their all into the game. The midfield worked smartly to get the ball into Didsbury's D, keeping the attack alive until finally Black was able to find an angle past the keeper, only for it to hit a Didsbury defender's foot on the backline. Rochdale were awarded a flick, and Leech stepped up to take it. She lifted the ball at the net, but the keeper was fast enough to knock it back and deny them the goal.

That boosted the Didsbury players, who demonstrated some strong play switching across the midfield to mount their own offensive. But Rochdale didn't let that upset them, they communicated and held their ground to bog them down there, forcing errors from their opponents and using them to push back. Roisin Pickering, in particular, intercepted a number of Didsbury's passes, turning one of their tricks against them.

Eventually Rochdale's hard work paid off as Collinson hit a long ball to Moon, who in turn pivoted to pass it off to where Gemma Hodcroft was running into space. Hodcroft took the ball and sprinted up the pitch, feinting or simply outrunning her way past four opponents. Once she reached the D she cut across and took her shot to slam the ball towards the net, and this time it went over the line to get a goal.

Even though Didsbury kept pulling further ahead, Rochdale didn't make it easy for them. For two of the goals Sam Partington had positioned herself to make the only angle they had as small as possible, and yet Didsbury still managed to squeak the ball in. One went in off a deflection from Palmer that didn't change the direction enough, and several were initially blocked by Claire Hoyle and Michelle Hoyle before the overload finally found a way through.

Some nifty passing between Lily Black, Hodcroft and Leech worked the ball up the pitch in what looked like a promising attack. It was finally disrupted close to the D when one of their opponent's defenders was able to steal the ball, but with Hodcroft on her tail she had few options and passed it off to a teammate who lifted the ball to go over the players in their way. Hannah Palmer had pushed forward with the Rochdale attack and was in the right place in the midfield to lift her stick and was able to stop the ball and bring it down with enough control that she was able to reverse it to Hodcroft, but before she could turn to make another run, a Didsbury player tackled her for it.

A late short corner in Didsbury's favour resulted in a shot towards right post, Palmer blocked it, but before she could get control of it to clear it, a Didsbury attacker regained control of it and tried to move into space for another strike. Only to come up against Collinson as she swooped in to win the ball back and fire it out of the D and off the sideline.

The final score was 1-6 with Gemma Hodcroft as Rochdale's only goal scorer.

Player of the match was Michelle Hoyle.

Captain Dionne Collinson said: "That was a tough game with no subs but we got through it so well done ladies. It was nice to have Michelle Hoyle back on the pitch with us too.”

Rochdale's team:
Keeper; Sam Partington.
Defence; Claire Hoyle, Michelle Hoyle, Kieran Leech & Hannah Palmer.
Midfield; Lily Black, Dionne Collinson, Gemma Hodcroft & Roisin Pickering.
Forwards; Claire Hockaday & Becki Moon.
Substitutes: N/A.

Report by Hannah Palmer

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