Date published: December 09, 2021
Photo: Rachel Jackson
Paula McDonald (right) scored one of Rochdale’s goals
This weekend, Rochdale was playing in Wigan, and the weather threw hail, wind and rain on both teams on a cold Saturday.
Despite the conditions, both teams dived directly. Wigan intercepted well but Rochdale chased every stray ball until he got it back.
Wigan pushed Rochdale’s goal early, but Collinson channeled their run to force them into Owen’s path who slipped the ball and sent it down the field at Hodcroft. Hodcroft rounded the opponent to strike him on the wing so Pickering could run. Pickering pushed the ball towards Wigan’s backline, but with three players scoring her when she got there, her options were limited. She tried to pass to Burrell but a defender blocked the ball and started to run. Hodcroft tackled to get him back, but his cross in the D was deflected from any Rochdale player by a defender before he was out of play.
A Wigan scoring attempt was foiled by the blowing referee for a foul just before the strike. Owen took the free kick and found Yates on the left wing, who raced down the pitch before passing the square ball to Hodcroft – who had been watching him – when a defender blocked his path. With an opposing player coming in to tackle, Hodcroft quickly advanced him to Parton, who ran into him at Burrell. Burrell hit the D, but his scoring attempt was handled by the Wigan defense.
Another Rochdale attack resulted in a short corner in favor of Rochdale. He was injected by McDonald’s at Pickering, who handed him over to Hodcroft who quickly punched him towards the goal where McDonald had run towards the post to deflect it around the keeper for the game’s opener.
Rochdale’s goal appeared to prompt Wigan to launch a series of offensive maneuvers. Taking advantage of their replacement, they pushed hard every time they won the ball in Rochdale’s defense.
Rochdale rallied well, with the midfielder returning to support the defense. In one instance, Knowles channeled a player on the left wing, allowing him to tackle the ball and pass it to Yates. Another saw Collinson rush to relieve an opponent of the ball before making her own run as Rochdale managed to cover her like she did.
Wigan put in a few shots on goal, most of which were brilliantly saved by Hoyle – including some excellent glove and shoulder work, and one attempt was denied as the ball went over the baseline and the players did not hear the whistle.
Eventually Wigan’s relentlessness paid off as one of their players received the ball on her backhand and lifted it up and over goalie Hoyle before she could get a glove for the Stop. Rather than disrupting Rochdale, it seemed to galvanize them, as they focused on getting around the group of opposition players who seemed to encumber the player with the ball with every attack they made. McDonald, Hodcroft and Pickering returned to their tried and true triangles to bounce the ball between them and used the space to get around the opposition and finally into Wigan’s defensive zone.
A long McDonald’s corner went past Pickering who passed through it just out of reach of Parton at the far post. Yates rushed to try and get him back, but Wigan was faster, even though she forced them to pass too early to get away from her. A free kick on the sideline from Knowles found Yates, who pushed the ball to the left wing to cross it towards Hodcroft. Hodcroft squeezed through the opposition to enter the D, his scoring attempt failed, but Rochdale’s efforts to retrieve the ball earned them a small corner kick. McDonald injected all the way to Burrell atop the D, who took a strike as soon as she pushed it over the line and found the back of the goal.
As the weather and fatigue began to take its toll, Wigan managed to secure another small turn. They took a strike from the top of the D, Palmer put his stick on it, but it wasn’t enough to stop the goal, and Wigan had equalized.
In another push from Wigan, they managed to get inside Rochdale’s D. A hard blow hit Collinson in the foot, causing her to drop her stick and run away in pain. As all players stopped, believing play was on hold until the player was checked before stepping into a small corner, a player from Wigan took advantage of both teams’ concern and picked up the ball to push towards the goal. Palmer attempted to block the strike but couldn’t and due to the distraction Hoyle couldn’t react in time to save her. The goal was cleared, because the referee had not really breathed.
After that frustration crept in, but despite it, Rochdale kept pushing and harassing for every bullet until the whistle was finally full time.
The final score was 3-2, with goal scorers Katie Burrell (1) and Paula McDonald (1) playing the match was Claire Hoyle.
Captain Becky Knowles said: “Wigan is leading the league, but we sure didn’t make it easy for them!
The Rochdale team:
Goalkeeper: Claire Hoyle
Defense: Dionne Collinson, Becky Knowles, Gill Owen & Hannah Palmer
Midfielder: Gemma Hodcroft, Paula McDonald, Roisin Pickering and Arabella Yates
Forwards: Katie Burrell and Daisy Parton