The Northern Premiership enjoyed another set of intriguing match-ups this past weekend as Premiership stalwarts Cheadle travelled up to Lancashire to visit 7th-placed Rochdale and 4th met 5th when Heaton Mersey hosted Timperley.
Heaton Mersey, having not played a fixture since their disappointing loss to rivals Poynton, were eager to put their last result (and performance) behind them by registering a solid win to regain confidence and remind everyone of their undoubted potential, and fielded a full-strength team including LTP student and Rutgers Alumni Kevin Albert against their Lancashire County counterparts. Standing in their way of the 2 points were a Timperley side featuring fellow LTP’er and New England College alumni/Coquitlam Adanacs player Brian Gillis, who are enjoying a strong season thus far, only registering losses against the unbeaten Stockport and 2nd-placed Cheadle.
Mersey started brightly and their attacking intent was clear for all to see from the first whistle, putting themselves very much on the front foot and scoring 4 goals to a solitary Timperley transition reply to lead by 3 going into 1stquarter time. Mersey furthered their lead in the second, grabbing a further two goals before Timperley too full advantage of slip-ups in discipline to capitalise upon multiple man-up offense opportunities to score 3 and go into half-time 6-4.
Whilst Mersey’s prior dominance in the game was starting to wane with Timperley seeing more of the ball and causing the ball to turnover much more regularly, they were still able to increase their goal tally to 9 whilst the visitors relied on midfield maestro Andrew Brickell to rake one back and provide a sublime assist to Ollie White to keep the game within touching distance at 9-6 going into the final quarter.
After the break, a frantic end-to-end session ensued with both teams battling desperately to kill the game off. Whilst Mersey did further extend their scoreline, Timperley were very much in the ascendency and again capitalised on several man-up opportunities to close the gap and take the game into the last 5 minutes trailing by just a single goal. Timperley’s effort and endeavour soon paid off as they drew level and scored to lead the game for the first time with only seconds remaining on the clock. Coming up with possession, they held on to clinch the win and keep their push for the top three very much alive.
Timperley scorers included the aforementioned Andrew Brickell (3+3), England international Mike Armstrong (2+3), LTP Student Brian Gillis (2+2), Ollie White (2+0), Oliver Loveland (2+0) and Cameron Lesley (1+0).
Up in Rochdale, the current league and flags champions Cheadle were out to overtake Poynton into 2nd place, taking advantage of Poynton’s game against Brooklands being postponed. Rochdale, keen to get their season back on track after a disappointing loss to Wilmslow, were eager to show they were no pushovers and despite them missing England international Glenn Humphries, set about imposing themselves on their visitors from the very start. With face-off extraordinaire Dave O’Callaghan putting on a masterclass at the X, winning every draw with a variety of ever-changing tactics, Rochdale made the most of their significant possession and raced into a 4-2 lead going into the second quarter. Further heroics from O’Callaghan ensured the momentum stayed with the hosts and they went into half-time leading 7-4 – the worst half of lacrosse Cheadle have endured since their loss against unbeaten Stockport.
Desperate to avoid an upset which would have had huge repercussions on their league standing, Cheadle collected their thoughts at the break and rampaged their way through the third quarter, bagging 7 before a single reply to turn the tables and put themselves back in more familiar territory. Rochdale, suffering unfortunate (and potentially very costly) injuries to midfield powerhouse Lewis Jacobs and free-scoring attacker Danny Moody, ran out of steam and the visitors used this to their advantage, twisting the knife with 6 more goals in the final quarter to reassert their authority and emerge as 17-8 victors in a game which no-one could have predicted the outcome.
Rochdale will undoubtedly feel disappointed to have suffered the defeat after their first-half heroics and will be hoping they can conjure some more of that magic this weekend when they host 3rd-placed Poynton. Cheadle will be looking to kick-on and continue with their second half form against premiership strugglers Brooklands, whilst Heaton Mersey face local rivals Manchester Waconians in a game they need to win to rescue their season. Elsewhere, Timperley will be looking to continue their vein of good form against Wilmslow and top meet bottom when Sheffield play host to unbeaten Stockport.
As each week shows, there are no simple fixtures on the NEMLA Premiership – return next week to see how our challengers fare!