Smith’s first grabs share of the spoils

Rochdale Observer - - THE LAUGHING BADGER -

ROCHDALE wel­comed Stockport Bramhall third team at home on Satur­day with hopes of bag­ging the three points.

After win­ning the South East Manch­ester side in the cup, the ladies were hop­ing to come out vic­to­ri­ous again.

The whis­tle blew sig­nalling push back with both teams bat­tling hard within sec­onds of the first half.

The first goal came from Stockport after a few short sharp passes saw Rochdale’s de­fence spread across the D.

De­spite a valiant ef­fort from the unit made up of Gill Owen, Nicky Mon­gan, Becki Moon, Han­nah Palmer, Alexan­dra Bed­ford and Dionne Collinson - the ball snuck passed keeper Partington.

Cap­tain Knowles kept the ladies spir­its up by re­mind­ing her play­ers it was all still to play for which en­cour­aged pos­i­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion through­out the pitch dur­ing play.

Rochdale had many op­por­tu­ni­ties cre­ated by Roisin Pick­er­ing, Jenny Banks and Becky Knowles with some ex­cel­lent pass­ing but it was prov­ing to dif­fi­cult to pen­e­trate the strong op­po­si­tions de­fen­sive lineup.

At half time the score was 1-0.

The se­cond half was much the same with Rochdale en­sur­ing each ball passes by Stockport had some­one mark­ing and ap­ply­ing pres­sure.

The qual­ity of Stockport’s passes re­flected this as they be­came rushed and Rochdale ben­e­fited as they gained most of the pos­ses­sion. This al­lowed de­fender Owen push up the pitch and sup­port.

They then took the op­por­tu­nity to at­tack. With mid­dle le­gends Paula MacDon­ald and Gemma Hod­croft man­ning the mid­dle sec­tion Stockport we’re un­able to get passed.

Hod­croft in­ter­cepted the pass be­fore send­ing it ahead for MacDon­ald to run on to who sent it to Becca Smith on the left wing. Smith used her speed and agility to run it to the D and pass to Knowles.

Stockport started to panic and sticks were fly­ing around with lit­tle skill in­volve­ment. Smith then made her run after Knowles clev­erly passed square, Smith sent it fly­ing home and scored her first - well de­served goal for Rochdale!

With some well thought out swaps on the pitch from Cap­tain Becky Knowles, the team con­tin­ued to push high with en­ergy lev­els be­ing main­tained through­out.

With a whole team ef­fort it is clear to see Rochdale are ben­e­fit­ting from coach Banks’ train­ing ses­sions, tak­ing on board the in­struc­tions and ap­ply­ing them dur­ing game time. De­spite this, the game ended 1-1 which has only spurred the Rochdale ladies on for the up­com­ing fix­tures.

Man of the match went to Gill Owen who not only played bril­liantly in de­fence but also pushed up the pitch to of­fer sup­port to the at­tack­ing units nu­mer­ous times. A great dis­play of hockey from Owen.

Cap­tain Knowles said: “The score didn’t re­flect the ef­fort made by all.

“Each week we seem to be get­ting stronger and stronger.”

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