Hockey: Rochdale Men's 2nds 5 - 2 Didsbury Men's 6ths

Date published: 28 March 2024

Saturday 23 March saw Rochdale men’s second team in action at home to Didsbury Men’s 6ths. It was expected to prove an easier game than in recent weeks, Didsbury being only a couple of places above Rochdale, but Rochdale still had a job to do. After last week's results, Rochdale Men’s 2nds can’t finish any lower than 10th, but can hopefully finish a little higher, as finishing third bottom doesn’t guarantee safety.

​The match started with a Didsbury push back and they were keen to draw Rochdale out, before heading forwards down the wide channels. They created a few early chances that forced some good saves from Dean Close in the Rochdale goal, but Didsbury were unable to capitalise. Rochdale managed to get some good attacks going themselves in these early stages and it was not long before they got the opening goal.

​Captain Adam Massey won the ball high up the right-hand side of the pitch and drove into the D. He took a shot, the keeper saved it, but the rebound came back to him. This time he squared the ball to Bjorn Brauns who swept it first time into an open goal for the opener, putting Rochdale ahead for the first time in a long while.

​It was not long before Rochdale added a second. A free hit in the centre of the pitch was taken quickly by man of the match Graham Broadley. It went straight to Massey who was in front of the last defender. He went right and beat him wide, before crossing to Brauns, who struck a hard hit into the backboard to double the home side's lead.

​It had been a good half for Rochdale. Having achieved the coach’s objective of not conceding first and controlling the game, they looked to build on it in the second half. The home side had so far been able to play out from the back quite well, as Didsbury didn’t have the confidence/were unable to set an aggressive press.

​The second half didn’t start so well for Rochdale though. Not used to being in front and expecting to go on to win, they looked a little nervy and started to lack fluidity to their passing game. Combined with getting bogged down in personal battles, this started to allow Didsbury back into the game. Ultimately, they would get two goals back, against the run of play.

​The first was a freak goal. Didsbury won the ball on the halfway mark and charged down Rochdale’s right. Their winger then worked the ball in, then mishit a cross that somehow bobbled in off the post. It was a stroke of fortune that added to the home side's nerves, as it looked like they were going to throw the lead away, as Didsbury had done in their home tie. It looked even more like it when the away team added a second not long after. A quick aerial ball caught the home defence off guard. The ball landed between on the D top, with their forward through on goal. He rounded the keeper and levelled the scores. Rochdale needed to get back playing with the confidence they had shown in the first half and quick.

​Thankfully they did, as another quick counter attack resulted in a penalty corner. The ball was injected to the top of the circle. Massey played a quick one two to get round the front runner, before calmly dispatching a powerful and accurate flick into the top corner to restore Rochdale’s lead. A fourth Rochdale goal was added not long after. A good tackle saw Brauns powering down the left, after he beat a defender. The keeper came running out. He then slipped it to Massey, who had made a supporting run on the right. Massey struck it first time with a reverse swipe, lifting it into the net out of the reach of the man on the line.

​The momentum had switched back into the home side's favour and the cracks started to show in Didsbury’s discipline. This resulted in a couple of cards being shown for dissent. They also showed a lack of playing discipline, as a poor back pass from the full back got picked off by Massey. He then skipped past the centre back and went down the right, before squaring the ball to Brauns. Brauns then struck home with a fierce shot into the backboard to complete his hat trick.

The game was now beyond Didsbury, Rochdale able to see the game out. Final score Rochdale 5 - 2 Didsbury.

​It was a good performance from Rochdale and an important win, that keeps them in the running to improve their league position. Didsbury managed to give them a bit of a scare when they got it back to 2-2, making Rochdale work harder, whereas Didsbury rarely got out of second gear on the day, as their season is pretty much over, having little to play for.

Man of the match was centre back Graham Broadley, for making brilliant tackles and interceptions, as well as having the vision and composure to launch some profitable counter attacks.

Rochdale 2nds have one more game of the season left, away at Urmston on Saturday 6 April. It’ll be tougher than last time, but hopefully they can finish strong and get another win, to improve their league position and guarantee safety.

Report by Graham Broadley

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