Date published: February 22, 2022
Rochdale goalkeeper Sam Partington and defender Becki Moon
Rochdale hosted Didsbury Northern 4ths on Saturday February 19 in a weather-ridden game – it was the fourth attempt to play it. The rain had washed away all the snow, but it continued to rain throughout the game.
Didsbury started the strongest team, their belligerent play and fitness initially routed Rochdale’s response. As a result, Rochdale’s attempts to bring play up the pitch were disjointed and their play suffered. Still, there were some great moments. Partington made a number of excellent saves and Hodcroft continued to evade the group of Didsbury players who were determined to oust him from the game. Rochdale successfully defended a few short corners and got some of their own, but unfortunately they weren’t able to break through the opposition and get into the goal.
A sideways scramble from Hodcroft ended when she passed the ball to Pickering, who rounded the winger on his way to return the ball to Hodcroft to get around the defender who was blocking his way in the D. Hodcroft slammed the ball towards the net just as she was inside the D, but it sailed just wide of the post before anyone could be within reach to deflect it into the goal.
At half-time, Rochdale took stock, with players and spectators honestly assessing what had just happened to get them two down.
It was exactly what they needed as the second half was a much more coordinated effort which saw them break up Didsbury’s offense more easily while providing more opportunities in their opponent’s D. A Yates free-kick was swung in the back via Mongan and Hodcroft for Pickering, whose run into the D earned them a short corner. Banks took a hit high from the D, but the goaltender managed to save it, and before Rochdale could get the rebound, a second short was called.
This time Hodcroft took the shot but Didsbury once again managed to keep Rochdale from scoring. A free kick from Owen to the top of Rochdale’s D found Knowles in the middle, who tagged it to send it towards Banks. Banks spun and ran upfield before entering the D from the right wing and crossing the ball into the net at the far post to score a goal for Rochdale. The Rochdale defense still had their work cut out for them as Didsbury were determined to score more goals.
Rochdale’s main tactic was to take them away from the D, forcing desperate passes and other errors that allowed Rochdale to control the game. The few who entered the D were marked to clear the ball. And with Partington in fine form with his incredible saves, most of the shots Didsbury took ended up being harmless. After a free kick from the defence, a game of pinball ensued in midfield to escape a whole crowd of opposing players. McDonald tapped it into Banks, who shoved it aside to Hodcroft, who in turn sent it back to McDonald who broke the pass clean and fast with a hit to Pickering to drive the play on the wing forward to bring it back to Banks, who tried to find an angle to shoot, but was eventually blocked by a goal.
An attempt by Didsbury to intercept a pass from Rochdale went awry to fire straight at Hodcroft in the middle, deflecting him towards Knowles who passed him in the D as Yates ran over it. Yates took his shot early, but was denied a goal by the keeper.
The final score was 1-3, with Jenny Banks as Rochdale’s only scorer.
Captain Knowles said: “Good plays, especially in the second half. Getting better every week.”
The player of the match was goalkeeper Sam Partington.
The Rochdale Team:
Guardian; Sam Partington.
Defense; Dionne Collinson, Nikki Mongan, Gill Owen and Hannah Palmer.
Midfielder ; Gemma Hodcroft, Paula McDonald, Roisin Pickering and Arabella Yates.
Forwards; Katie Burrell and Becky Knowles.
Replaces Jenny Banks, Kate Brammer and Becca Newton