AFTER six weeks of cup football, Formby returned to league competition on Saturday.
The match was originally scheduled to be played at the Angels' Mayfield Sports Centre ground but a clash of fixtures with the local rugby team who share the facility meant the game was switched to Formby.
Last season the Rochdale did the double on Formby and finished fifth in the league. This season they've struggled somewhat and arrived at Altcar Road on the back of four straight defeats.
The two sides had met in the NWCFL Challenge Trophy two weeks earlier and Formby had run out comfortable 6-1 winners. With Connor Smith suspended following his sending off against Atherton LR there was a recall for Mark Kirby on the wing, otherwise managers Jim Shirley and Kev Dally opted to go with the same starting eleven. Two new names appeared on the substitutes' bench, Josh Peake and Jamie Watkinson.
However when they did win possession Rochdale were quick to break. As early as the fourth minute James Greenhalgh broke clear of the Formby defence and hit a ferocious low drive that was heading for the bottom corner until the outstretched arm of a diving Josh O’Connell managed to divert the ball wide for a corner.
Five minutes later Formby were ahead. Left back Josh Essery was harried to the end of the pitch but with inches to spare got a cross angled back into the Rochdale area and the ball was scrambled clear, but only as far as Paul Speed ten yards out. With typical coolness and prescience Squirrels' skipper Paul Speed gave a solid strike to give his side the lead. A minute later Jason Carey rounded the keeper and put the ball in the net but had it ruled out for offside.
The game now became a midfield battle as the surface began to cut up. Chances were few and far between as the respective defences snuffed out any danger. In the 34th minute however, Formby doubled their lead. An inviting cross from Paul Speed was met by the forehead of Jason Carey who glanced the ball beyond Gareth Fleming.
In the 80th minute, Franny Smith collected a clearance on the left corner of the area and simply hammered the ball into the top corner of the net.