Whitchurch Men’s 1s 2 Oxton Men’s 4s 1

Whitchurch travelled away for their last game before Christmas to play the team currently at the bottom of the league, but knew not to take anything for granted. Oxton were far stronger than their league position would suggest and that, combined with a sluggish start from the Reds, made the game quite even for most of the first half. Whitchurch struggled to put together good hockey, with passes occasionally being wide or weak, and composure just a little off, so were on the back foot. Having said that, they were commanding several parts of the field and put the Oxton defence under a decent amount of pressure. Craig Hockenhull and Nick Cooper moved well in the Oxton dee to keep them from settling, and Fred Egerton rolled on and off with them to keep the intensity high. The Oxton keeper made a number of good saves, and their defensive unit worked well to keep out Whitchurch short corners, so the Reds had to work hard for control.

Oxton’s centre-back was the core strength in their team, good at clearances along the ground and via the aerial route, and it gave them a platform to build on. Their forward play was confident and assured and they moved the ball well, giving Danny Foulkes, Chris Ruscoe and James Partington plenty to do in defence. Whitchurch continued to develop the strength at the back that has given them the best defensive record in the league and worked the ball across the rear third of the pitch time and again to find the best routes out. Joel Leese was back on the left for another strong game, with Dale Seymour and Sam Conway across the middle, and Tom Forster settled well into the sweeper role behind them. Ben Kimberley put in a solid performance moving the ball well through the middle and it was from the central area that the first goal came: Hockenhull collected the ball and ran it to the dee before putting it through to Cooper who put his first-time strike past the Oxton keeper.

The second half was more of the same, but as the game progressed Whitchurch found their rhythm. Once again they put together pass after pass after pass to move the ball from their own dee across the pitch twice before being unlucky with the shot at goal. Reminded of how they can play, they went on to drive the ball forward collecting a number of free hits and short corners along the way as they were clever with the ball and drew fouls well. A short corner routine finally paid off, with Seymour’s powerful strike only being partially blocked by the defender before going over their stick and in.
Oxton came back with renewed vigour, and Paul “Sturge” Leigh was again great in goal, making a number of important blocks and running out to deal with oncoming attackers. In the final minute of the game, a simple stick block by Foulkes was adjudged to have touched his foot instead by the far umpire, and the resulting short corner routine was put away well by Oxton to give them a well-deserved goal.

Whitchurch ground out a win on a day when things didn’t quite click, but the team is strong enough to have a middling day and still pull through. Joel Leese was awarded player of the match for another commanding performance on the left, and the team can be satisfied with a decent performance. They stay top of the league over the Christmas break and can look forward for a good second half of the season in the new year, having already played the top teams away from home.

Bowden ladies 4s 3 Whitchurch ladies 1s 2
Whitchurch played away this week against Bowdon 4s. The top two teams came head to head to play an equally battled game. Bowdon took control for the first few minutes until Whitchurch found their feet and turned the game around, with Sarah Field scoring the first goal from a flick over the keeper. 1-0 up, Bowdon came back fighting to score off a short corner no more than 2 minutes later. Then managed to score another just before half time. Bowdon were 2-1 up with Maddy Sugden saving a plethora of goals.

Whitchurch came out strong in the second half with defence Kezzie Hutchings, Anna Latham and Sophie Ward bringing the ball up to Hebe Dixon who scored a cracking reverse stick goal into the bottom corner. Captain Catherine Winter-Gresty and Lisa Sullivan worked very hard in the centre to filter the ball through and winning a run of short corners. Unfortunately, not being able to convert as Bowdon defence were on the ball. Whitchurch held their own then for the majority of the second half, but unlucky for the defence, a Bowdon striker managed to divert the ball into the goal. Whitchurch played their hearts out, but couldn’t equalise before the final whistle. After an amazing game, Maddy Sugden was awarded a well-deserved player of the match. The final score 3-2 win for Bowdon. As said by the Bowdon coach, this game really was one of the best and hardest of our season so far. Ladies 1s break for Christmas now and are back on the 4th January.

Whitchurch Men’s 2s 3 Oxton Men’s 5s 1
After last weekend’s heavy defeat to the runaway league leaders the 2s welcomed second-placed Oxton 5s to Whitchurch for the final fixture before the Christmas break. Oxton had already inflicted a 5-0 defeat on the young Reds earlier in the season and had won both of last season’s fixtures by big score lines.

The opening exchanges took on a familiar pattern. Oxton’s experience and power threatened to overwhelm the 2s in the first few minutes. They moved the ball well and looked to drive forward but the Whitchurch midfield of Joe Coburn and Richard Leigh were diligently restricting space in the middle of the pitch and the defence of Brendan Coburn, Wyn Morris, Will Snaith and Gareth Teggin mopped up behind the midfield and prevented Oxton getting into any threatening positions.

Whitchurch quickly got themselves into the game and started to play some excellent hockey. The quick one and two-touch hockey that has become the teams trademark this season was soon in evidence. Luke Beddow was linking up well with Richard and Joe in midfield and Joe Faithfull and Jacob Buckeridge were providing excellent passing options in the wide areas. Shooting chances, however, were at a premium for both sides. Defences were solid in the tackle and whilst Oxton were more direct with their attacking play, Whitchurch were patiently probing and recycling possession.
Whitchurch opened the scoring with a superb team goal. Winning the ball in midfield, Richard Leigh fed a neat pass to Joe Coburn who in turn picked out Joe Faithfull’s excellent run from right wing. Joe drove into the dee and squared the ball for Will Gilbert to fire home his first goal in senior hockey. The speed and precision of their play was a joy to behold.

The 2s played out the rest of the first half in the ascendancy. Oxton were always a threat but the Reds defence was quite superb in keeping the ball away from their own dee and Oxton were unable to win any short corners, from which they had punished Whitchurch in the past. The midfield took care of the ball when in possession and every player worked hard to provide a passing option for their teammate.

Whitchurch thoroughly deserved to score the second goal of the half. The ball was fed into the dee from the right and Luke Beddow saw his first shot hacked off the line but followed in to drive the ball into the goal.

Despite being 2-0 up at half-time, Oxton were always going to try and force their way back into the game in the second period and the Whitchurch team-talk focused on being calm and continuing to play the hockey that was serving them so well up to that point.

As expected, Oxton came out hard and fast, but Whitchurch met the challenge head-on. The away side still couldn’t make much progress towards the Whitchurch goal, whilst a change in formation seemed to leave them more susceptible to fast counterattacks by the 2s.
Oxton pulled a goal back 15 minutes into the second half from a penalty flick and for a few moments looked to have seized the initiative. They quickly won a short corner which was brilliantly kicked away by keeper Neil Jones.

But the Whitchurch wobble was brief. They regrouped and Oxton attacks continued to break down before reaching the dee, but as Oxton pushed forward looking for an equaliser they became even more exposed on the counterattack. Will Gilbert went close to another goal. The young Oxton keeper had an exceptional afternoon and made several good saves from Luke Beddow, Alex Leigh and Ethan Gresty. Eventually Whitchurch extended their lead when a good break from Alex Leigh fed Luke Beddow, who slipped the ball under the advancing keeper.

Tempers frayed and Oxton were reduced to 10 men for a succession of green cards. This hampered their efforts to get back into the game, although Whitchurch refused to give them any glimmers of hope and duly saw out the remaining minutes to register a well-deserved 3-1 victory.

This was easily the most impressive result and performance from this young squad of players. Oxton 5s are a very good side and are highly likely to win one of the two promotion spots this season but to a man (and boy) the Whitchurch players worked hard to block up the spaces in the centre of the pitch and prevent Oxton from having any space to play their own hockey. When in possession the 2s were both careful and dynamic with the ball.

Will Gilbert, who turned 14 the previous weekend, had a fantastic game standing in as striker for top-scorer Euan Morris, who missed the game through illness. Luke Beddow continues to impress in midfield and drew deserved plaudits from the Oxton players. His goals have been an asset for the team all season. But it was the old guard who provided the platform for this performance. Richard Leigh and Dave Brunyard prevented Oxton having any space in midfield and ably supported by Brendan Coburn and Wyn Morris at the back, the Wirral side struggled to get into the Whitchurch dee and certainly didn’t fashion any real shooting chances in open play.
A great way to go into the Christmas break!
The Men’s 2s return to action on 11th January 2020 with a trip to North Wales.

Whitchurch ladies 2s 8 Macclesfield ladies 4s 1
Enthusiastically, Whitchurch started the match with their sights set on a win. Quickly; powerfully; fiercely; Whitchurch scored within seconds with Amelie Morris making an amazing sweep on the back post, from a lovely cross from Phoebe Jones. Holly Edwards and Stephanie Stanton worked as inners moving the ball up the pitch with determination. Jones kept battling and with another cross into the Dee, Morris scored again!

Whitchurch defenders Catherine Reese-Gresty and Emma Clarke defended the Whitchurch dee brilliantly and left Megan Nicholson with little to do in goal. The goals kept coming for Whitchurch as Nicola Forster put two more past the Macclesfield goalkeeper. Whitchurch continued to work hard and Chloe Lloyd, Ellie McEvoy and Molly Fry set up numerous fast attacks. As the half time whistle neared Fry managed to score an excellent goal making the score 5-0 at half time.

Reenergised and full of jelly babies, Whitchurch went back onto the pitch looking for more goals. They quickly got back into the game and Fry scored another amazing goal. Lloyd ran the ball up the wing and after a lovely cross into the dee, Stanton scored an impressive goal. However, Macclesfield continued to fight and managed to score a well-deserved goal. Fry carried on setting up numerous attacks and Jones and Holly Gilbert made several strong inter-linking passes. This strong attack resulted in Morris scoring her third goal. Clarke and Reese-Gresty carried on defending amazingly and prevented any further Macclesfield attacks and as the final whistle blew the score was 8-1.

Match Reports 30/11/19

Another weekend of disruption with the ladies 2s early home game and the ladies 3s away game both falling foul of frozen pitches.

Whitchurch Men’s 1s 6  Chester University Men’s 1s 1

Whitchurch’s last home game before Christmas was at risk of not being played at all, with frost covering the pitch in the morning but the cautious wait paid off as the sun came out for a glorious – if chilly – afternoon. The Reds started brilliantly, continuing their recent fine run of form, and were two-nil up within 5 minutes, with Tom Forster grabbing a brace. The first came from an excellent drive down the right wing by Jack Barnes who crossed it to the top of the dee where Forster took his shot well. The second was a short corner where Nick Cooper worked the ball in well before squaring it to Forster who fired it in.

The intensity settled a little as Whitchurch looked to use their time on the ball carefully, passing around at the back between Alex Fry, Chris Ruscoe and James Partington before building up through the midfield. Rob Chappell and Tom Forster controlled the centre well, with Dale Seymour again strong in the tackle and distributing well. Barnes continued to have a strong game, driving down the right wing almost unchallenged, and he fired a number of powerful shots in from the edge of the dee, with the Chester keeper doing well to block them. Finally such a shot rebounded up into the air off the keeper and Fred Egerton was on hand to do a tennis-smash style volley into the net.

Still the pressure was kept on the Chester, with Seymour driving into the dee looking to offload before just spinning round and placing the ball into the left side of the goal with a lovely reverse stick strike. Cooper then grabbed his first from a pass by Ben Kimberley which he put past the diving keeper. Cooper, Jon Chappell and Craig Hockenhull continued to cause the Chester defence problems, with good runs and a number of close shots.

At 5-0 up at half-time, one could be forgiven for thinking the game was now a foregone conclusion, but Chester came out of the blocks impressively after the break and it was a much more even affair. They put two players up front and started to make better runs, with a number of close chances and Paul “Sturge” Leigh was again impressive in goal, coming out on a number of occasions to block attackers and give the Reds’ defence time to get back and regroup. However, Chester started to make use of their right wing, which they’d hardly used in the first half, and managed to get a free hit just outside the Whitchurch dee which they got fired in and they had three players on hand to put it over a diving Sturge. Sturge was then involved in the game’s injury worry: one of his rushing blocks coincided with Ruscoe coming swiftly across the dee shadowing the attacking player, and Sturge was left feeling the effects of a blow to the head. The game restarted, but Whitchurch were now keen to keep the ball well away from Sturge as he recovered, and looked to find the form from the first half with more emphasis on strong passing than running with the ball. It paid off as a passing move got the ball into the dee and Cooper’s powerful shot was partly stopped, but it still had enough momentum to roll over the line despite the Chester keeper’s diving attempt to stop it.

Given that the second half was 1-1, Whitchurch know they will have a strong challenge in return fixture, but they had their third good win in a row. They remain top of the league with one more game against Oxton Men’s 4s next week before the Christmas break.

Neston ladies 3s 0 Whitchurch ladies 1s 3

Whitchurch ladies 1s travelled to mid-table Neston with a young team, missing several of their regular players. As anticipated, Neston started strongly, but Millie Edwards and Chloe Lloyd created a solid defence, keeping them out. Despite injuries to Catherine Winter-Gresty and Lisa Sullivan, after 20 minutes, Whitchurch started to gain control. This came directly after Neston were awarded a penalty flick, which Maddy Sugden saved comfortably with her left foot. After this, Whitchurch took the initiative, with Anna Latham and Ellie Windsor creating opportunities down the right, which led to Jess Carruthers scoring two goals for Whitchurch by the time the half-time whistle blew.

The second half started out just as fiercely contested as the first. But Whitchurch’s confidence was growing, and they controlled the rest of the game through midfield efforts of Gresty, Molly Fry and Hebe Dixon. With 15 minutes to go, Whitchurch put the game beyond doubt, with Izzy Huxley and Sophie Ward combining to set up Dixon to score with a fine reverse stick strike. As the pitch started to freeze, Whitchurch ran out clear winners, with Sullivan named player of the match.

Bangor University Men’s 1s 9 Whitchurch Men’s 2s 1

A trip to west Wales to face the runaway league leaders was always going to be a tough game for the young Whitchurch Men’s 2s squad, but their battling performance against Bebington, in their previous game, at least suggested that they had the stomach for the challenge.

In the first half they met that challenge head on. The Welsh side were fast and powerful and threatened to run away with the game in the very early stages. The home side took the lead through a short corner, powerfully struck home from the edge of the dee. Further chances were created as the students powered through tackles and neatly dribbled around flailing sticks but a combination of good, last ditch defending by Doug Buckeridge, Brendan Coburn, Gareth Teggin and Will Snaith, some excellent goalkeeping from Neil Jones and a few slices of luck meant that the score remained at 1-0 until half-time.

Whitchurch got to grips with the game the longer first half progressed, and whilst Bangor were always dangerous when they came forward, the Whitchurch midfield started to make inroads toward the home goal. Richard Leigh and Pip Jones were coming to terms with the Bangor midfield and stifling the home sides attacks in the middle of the pitch.

With top scorer, Euan Morris missing through illness, Luke Beddow was pushed further forward and was a constant threat to the home defenders. Joe Coburn, Ethan Gresty and Alex Leigh started to exchange passes closer to the Bangor dee and with Airan Jones, Jacob Buckeridge and Fred Delf-Rowlandson making good runs from wide positions, the Reds had a couple of reasonable chances to get on the scoresheet.

At half-time, there was hope amongst the Whitchurch players that they might be able to sneak something against the odds in this game, but, as last week, their opponents had other ideas.

Throughout the second half Bangor dominated the game. They brought a power and intensity to their play that Whitchurch struggled to live with, but they battled hard and it took until midway through the half before Bangor scored their second goal, from another short corner. This opened the floodgates.

Whitchurch lost their composure and the battling qualities and the determined play prior to the second goal evaporated. Twice they lost possession directly from their own pushbacks and Bangor poured forward onto the Whitchurch backline, overpowering and outnumbering the defence, and adding to their goal tally. The more goals Bangor scored, the more they drove forward looking for goals and the score line just ran away from Whitchurch in the space of 10 disastrous minutes.

The team weren’t helped by a needless green card for a petulant foul, but when the full complement of players returned to the pitch, the Reds dug deep to finish the game with the final goal of the afternoon. Neat interplay down the right between Richard and Alex Leigh sent Joe Coburn forward at pace. He sold the defender an outrageous dummy and fed Luke Beddow, who fired low past the keeper.

The 9-1 score line was a little harsh on Whitchurch. Bangor thoroughly deserved their win, but once again the young Reds forced a very good team to work hard for 50 minutes or so. However, after making things difficult for their opponents for a long time, the subsequent 10-minute collapse, which allowed the score line to tick over at an alarming rate, has happened in each of their three defeats this season.

The team needs to dig deep when they go a couple of goals behind and try to keep the score line respectable. The players need to focus on doing the things that have served them well for two-thirds of the game, even when they go two or three goals down. This will come with experience, but with their final game before the Christmas recess against Oxton at SJT on 7th December, they may need to get to grips with this concept sooner rather than later.

Match reports 23/11/19 & Rearranged games 24/11/19

Crewe Ladies 4s 0 Whitchurch ladies 2s 10

Whitchurch came onto the pitch full of life, despite the early nature of their game. Within the first few minutes they scored their first goal; a beautiful slap from Ellie Pearson. They kept this up, scoring numerous times, including twice off short corners. Amelie Morris achieved two goals, both lovely deflections off the post. Nicki Forster scored twice, Ellie Pearson once again, and Phoebe Jones also got one goal by the time the halftime whistle blew.

The second half Whitchurch came back out with the same determination, however as did Crewe, breaking through and testing Whitchurch’s defence. But they fought back, with Catherine Reece-Gresty and Emma Clarke both creating an unbreakable defence. The few shots that Crewe managed, Beth Wright kept out, making some terrific saves. The halves: Molly Fry, Chloe Lloyd, Martha Teggin and Edina Jones worked incredibly together, playing the ball around Crewe’s players, and creating countless chances for the forwards. Caitlin Edwards and Holly Edwards also assisted in further goals for Forster, Pearson and Morris who all completed their hatricks, with Whitchurch achieving a 10-0 win as the game drew to a close. This puts Whitchurch in a good position for next week’s game, which will be a tough match against Neston.

Ellie Pearson achieved player of the match.

Whitchurch Men’s 1’s 6 Northop Hall Men’s 2’s 1

Whitchurch returned to winning ways in style this week against a Northop Hall team that gave them a good run for their money and whose performance wasn’t reflected by the score line. The first half was a pretty even affair, with Northop applying pressure from the start mainly down their left wing. Chris Ruscoe, playing at right back, was able to cut out a lot of this pressure, and switched the ball well through to Danny Foulkes in the centre and James Partington on the left, and together they were able to build much better attacks than last week and were supported by Sam Conway who added speed and skill to create attacks on the break. The Northop forwards held back from Whitchurch sixteens which gave the Reds time to build play with a much stronger passing game than in recent matches. Passes were mostly spot-on, with far fewer loose balls or hopeful smashes; there was much better movement of the ball between players rather than people trying to drive through a crowd; the forwards spread out wide and the shots into the dee were crisp and accurate.

Tom Forster had a strong game in the centre, with Dale Seymour and Rob Chappell providing skill and experience to control the middle of the pitch, and Alex Fry rotated in well to keep the intensity and control levels high. Jack Barnes was impressive down the right with composure and energy to get through players time and again, and was belting balls into the dee and forcing saves from the keeper. Jon Chappell, Nick Cooper, Fred Egerton, Craig Hockenhull and Ben Kimberley up front gave the Northop defence constant headaches, and were able to get the ball back quickly from sixteens with ease to ensure the pressure never dropped.

Whitchurch were able to go ahead first as Barnes added the first of his four with a perfect drag flick from a short corner which beat everyone. He followed it up with a second that wasn’t quite so well-executed, but was good enough to go two-up. Northop were able to build pressure in return and got a number of short corners, but the Reds were able to block and clear them with Forster excellent at running out to block out the shots. Paul “Sturge” Leigh had another strong game in goal, closing down attackers and ensuring no goalmouth scrambles got past, giving the Reds confidence all the way from the back.

Northop Hall did finally get the breakthrough, with a quickly-taken hit from outside the dee getting crossed to a player who was able to hit it past Sturge, and at half-time the score at 2-1 gave the Reds plenty to work with. The half-time talk was a positive one and reinforced the need to move the ball rather than running through people, and to continue to do well the things that were working well, and it was the catalyst for an even better second half.

Jon Chappell scored an excellent team goal: a free hit about five metres outside the Northop 23 metre line was hit four times in as many seconds as it moved in a straight line from player to player to player to player and into the goal. A strong drive into the dee by Ruscoe ended as a stick block prevented his shot, and a penalty stroke was awarded: Barnes put his pre-game practice to good use and put the ball away confidently. Another Whitchurch short corner routine was slightly off, but was recovered well and Barnes buried it into the goal. Finally, a short corner was cleared out to the right by Northop, but was sent back in to a group of three Reds near the penalty spot, and Cooper stepped up to put it into the left side of the net.

The second half was another of Whitchurch’s better periods of play, as they moved the ball well, kept possession, avoided the risky passes and dominated play. When Northop did break, they were dangerous, and the score line doesn’t reflect the skill and effort they put in, but ultimately Whitchurch controlled the second half and the game, and can take confidence for the catch-up game on Sunday against Sale, where a win would send them back to the top of the league.

Bebington Men’s 4s 3 Whitchurch Men’s 2s 4

Off the back of two big wins, Whitchurch Men’s 2s travelled to the Wirral to face a Bebington side who’d also won handsomely in their last league fixture.

It was the home team that started the better, moving the ball quickly through midfield to their attacking players high up the pitch. Repeatedly in the opening exchanges, the Whitchurch defenders found themselves four on four with their opponents as the midfield was by-passed by Bebington’s direct play. Brendan Coburn, Doug Buckeridge, Alex Leigh and Will Snaith dealt with most of the danger, but the Reds had to survive a couple of short corners and the ball flashed across the Whitchurch dee on several occasions.

Gradually Whitchurch became more threatening at the other end of the pitch. The good passing and movement from recent weeks started to click and chances were created in front of the Bebington goal. Jake Buckeridge and Will Gilbert were getting into good positions on the Whitchurch left and linking up well with Luke Beddow, Richard Leigh and Ethan Gresty in midfield. The home keeper made some good stops and Bebington found themselves penned in by a succession of short corners, but Whitchurch couldn’t find a breakthrough.

And then, midway through the first half, the game was turned on its head by three quick Whitchurch goals. Joe Coburn’s pass found Fred Delf-Rowlandson’s excellent run from the wing and he squared the ball for Airan Jones to beat the defender at the near post and steer home the opening goal. This was quickly followed by Euan Morris’s first of the afternoon as he turned and shot after Joe Coburn’s pass into the dee. With Bebington reeling, Euan added another with a mazy run into the dee and a fine finish across the keeper on the reverse stick.

The home side regained their composure and came back at Whitchurch. The Reds did well to keep Bebington way from their dee, but in the last few minutes Whitchurch’s persistent encroaching at free hits led to a short corner for the home side. The resulting strike from the edge of the dee took a deflection and keeper Neil Jones was powerless to stop it thumping into the backboard.

Whitchurch’s 3-1 half-time lead was harsh on Bebington and flattering to the Reds. The team talk at the interval was all about controlling the game and seeing out the win. But Bebington had other ideas. The home side brought a physicality and intensity to the second half that the young 2s hadn’t seen so far this season.

The older, more powerful Bebington players were driving through tackles, forcing Whitchurch off the ball when in possession and beating the 2s to every loose ball. Whitchurch started to panic and were unable to keep possession of the ball and Bebington attacks were coming in waves with Whitchurch desperately defending the edge of their own dee. Neil Jones made several good stops and the defenders did well to clear their lines.

Inevitably, however, Bebington scored to further reduce the deficit. Neil Jones was helpless as a free man stole in behind the Whitchurch defence and cleverly deflected the ball past the keeper. But the goal seemed to have a galvanising effect on the Whitchurch players. Bebington still bossed the territory and possession but Whitchurch started to find their passing range and became a threat on the counterattack.

Things looked to have taken a turn against Whitchurch when Will Gilbert was green carded for encroaching at a free hit but despite being a player down for 2 minutes it was Whitchurch that scored the next goal. Ethan Gresty won the ball in midfield and with Bebington caught upfield Euan Morris was sent sprinting into the dee. Euan did well to keep the ball in play and as the Bebington defenders stopped when the ball hit a defender’s foot, Euan played on and squared the ball to Luke Beddow to calmly fire past the Bebington keeper.

Bebington continued to drive forward looking to get back into the game and Whitchurch continued to look dangerous on the counterattack. A further green card for Whitchurch gave the home side another numerical advantage and this time they profited by scoring from a short corner.

Whitchurch hung on gamely in the closing stages of the game. The side showed some real maturity by slowing the game down at restarts and Joe Faithfull brilliantly held the ball in one of the attacking corners for what seemed an eternity as precious seconds ebbed away.

There was palpable relief from the Whitchurch players as the final whistle blew. This was a hard fought and hard-won victory. Bebington played well and their power in the second half threatened to blow the young Whitchurch players away but they dug deep and ground out the win. In the first half the 2s played some excellent hockey, particularly in the five minutes where they scored three goals. In the second half, after their shaky ten minutes, their counterattacking was always dangerous, but it was their battling qualities that really shone in that second period.

Everybody played well today, and this is another major step in the development of the team. Bebington could argue that they deserved more from the game, but Whitchurch should be very proud of this performance and result.

Next week the Men’s 2s travel to North Wales to face unbeaten Bangor University. This will be a tough game for Whitchurch but if they can reproduce some of the grit and good hockey from this match, they might be able to surprise the Welsh side.

Whitchurch ladies 1s 4 Oxton ladies 2s 0

This week, Whitchurch ladies 1s played at home against Oxton 2s. After the first 15 minutes of hard work and scrappy play from both sides, Whitchurch won a short. Sarah Field managed to get around the first runners and scored, letting Whitchurch lead with high spirits.

Their second goal came from Field again who received the ball in the dee after good play from Catherine Winter-Gresty, Jess Carruthers and Hebe Dixon in and around the centre of the pitch. The ladies continued to work hard and shut down any counter attacks from the opposition. Oxton did however, break through from a couple of silly mistakes, leaving Maddy Sugden, Kezzie Hutchings and Anna Latham to make some amazing saves at the back.

After working the ball down the pitch well, Whitchurch were awarded another short where Emma Harper carried out a drag flick and scored. More good play lead to Ellie Windsor working along the baseline and managing to get the ball to Izzy Huxley who slotted the ball bottom corner. Even though Whitchurch were ahead, Oxton continued to push hard and broke through. Sophie Ward and Millie Edwards worked hard to make some goal line saves, before Lisa Sullivan cleared it.

Next week, the team will play away against Neston 3s.

Whitchurch Ladies 3s 3 Alderley Edge 7s 4

The ladies 3s entertained Alderley Edge 7s at home on a dark damp Saturday afternoon. Whitchurch started the quicker of the two teams and took the ball to Alderley Edge with a lot of the possession down the right with Jasmin Williams and Megan Brunyard creating a number of chances that enabled Jess Kimberley to rattle the back boards very early on.

Whitchurch kept the pressure on that forced the best out of Edges’ keeper.  Alderley Edge battled their way down the pitch but were met by the wall of defence of Mel Reid, Hermione Ball, Jan Teggin and keeper Louise Cottrell who kept them from scoring. Alderley Edge eventually found their way through to the back boards. Making it one all. Whitchurch fought back with wonderful cross over work from Sam Parkhurst, Emma Stubbs, Holly Gilbert and Wendy Cooper. Jess Kimberley shot rebounded for Louise Whitley to make it 2 -1 at half time

After a pep talk from Captain Wendy Cooper the second half commenced. Some assertive runs up the left by Emily Lister, Libby Fox and Holly Gilbert but Alderley Edge defended well. Whitchurch continued to apply pressure but Alderley Edge came back and scored a second and shortly thereafter a third.  Whitchurch were soon back on equal terms as Kimberley found the back boards for her second

Whitchurch kept a strong defence but just couldn’t keep Alderley Edge from making their fourth goal. Jessica Kimberley was named as player’s player.

Sunday 24/11/19

Whitchurch ladies 1s 10 Wilmslow ladies 3s 2

2 games 2 wins!

Whitchurch ladies 1s entertained Wilmslow 3s at home this Sunday for a rearranged match.

Whitchurch were the stronger team from the start pushing up into Wilmslow dee immediately. Some great play from mid players Lisa Sullivan, Hebe Dixon and captain Catherine Winter-Gresty held the ball up in their half, goals started rolling once Winter-Gresty powered the ball into Sarah Field to deflect past the keeper.

The first half saw two more come from Sarah Field following lovely controlled passes from Ellie Windsor and Jessica Carruthers. A short corner allowed Hebe Dixon to get on the score sheet, quickly followed by Carruthers from open play, finding space in an open goal.

5-0 at half time and for Whitchurch a well-earned break.

Whitchurch keeper Beth Wright made some amazing saves but as Wilmslow attacked hard from the restart were caught Whitchurch off guard and they managed to scored two goals within the first 10 minutes.

Whitchurch settled back into playing their game, using the width from Izzy Huxley and Molly Fry to put lots more pressure on the Wilmslow defence. A run of short corners and Carruthers scored her second quickly followed by Field.

Persistent pressure got Wilmslow in a fluster allowing Lisa Sullivan to dribble the ball into the dee from a long corner scoring the 8th for Whitchurch.

The game slowed as both sides were getting tired, but Whitchurch had time to reach 10 goals with further goals from Hebe Dixon and Sarah Field receiving balls coming from Ellie Windsor and Winter-Gresty.

Ladies 1s are away next week at Neston.

Whitchurch Men’s 1s 4 Sale Men’s 2’s 1

Whitchurch had their second game of the weekend against a 10-man Sale team who struggled to get numbers for an away game on a Sunday, but were absolutely a force to be reckoned with. From the off, Sale did very well with hard-hit long balls down their left wing, as well as more structured play down the right and the Whitchurch defence had their work cut out. Regulars Pip Jones and James Partington were joined by Tom Knapp in the centre as Danny Foulkes spent more time managing from the side in the first half, and – supported by Paul “Sturge” Leigh in goal – were able to absorb the pressure well. Tom Forster had another good game in the middle, flanked by Joel Leese on the left and Chris Ruscoe, moving up to right half. Alex Fry worked as sweeper between the defence and midfield, to give structure and security at the back and between them Whitchurch were able to switch the ball easily left and right from sixteens.

The midfield again were able to build attacks, but were also more confident in playing the ball back to recycle it for another attack, and it gave Whitchurch a lot of time on the ball which they used well. Dale Seymour again provided incisive passes and good movement on and off the ball, and Fred Egerton and Jon Chappell moved into space well in the Sale twenty-three, having a number of opportunities to drive into the dee. The first goal, however, was from a bullet-pass from Jack Barnes into the dee that Ruscoe ran onto and got a lovely reverse stick deflection on as it flew past. The second was from a short corner routine where the keeper made an excellent save to stop the drag flick, but Jones was on hand at the back post to tap in the rebound.

Despite being a man down, Sale came out of the blocks in the second half incredibly well. They immediately put pressure on the Whitchurch defence, throwing two players forward and driving hard up the pitch. They got a number of short corners and the Reds did well to keep the ball out, with Foulkes back on the pitch providing critical stability, but eventually the effort paid off as the Sale striker was able to flick the ball over a diving Sturge. It was well worked, and absolutely deserved, and Sale put in a real shift to cover being a man down. At some points it was overly enthusiastic, and they lost a player to the sin bin, at which point they were really under pressure but they rallied well and didn’t let any goals in while they were down to nine men. Not to be outdone, Whitchurch collected two green cards to put themselves in trouble, but the defence held strong and the midfield drove the ball back up the right and the ball was crossed into the dee where Forster had an age on the ball completely unmarked and confidently put it past the Sale keeper.

The final goal in the dying minutes of the game was a pass to Seymour who released it to Chappell who remained composed in the dee and buried the ball to make it four. Whitchurch played well for their second game of the weekend and rounded off a very successful couple of days for the entire club. They returned to the top of the league, but know they will face a very tough test in the return fixture. They are home again next weekend against the University of Chester 1s.

Whitchurch Ladies 3s 2 Triton Ladies 3s 0

Whitchurch Ladies 3rds began the match with determination, coming back from their unfortunate loss the day before. Kate Buckeridge and Wendy Cooper worked together in the middle of the pitch creating opportunities for the attackers. Triton fought back however, and made some promising attacks, but they were fended off by the solid defence, made up of Jan Teggin and Emma Stubbs, with Louis Cottrell, the goalkeeper, making some incredible saves to keep the score down. Annie Buckeridge worked the ball up the pitch with Caitlin Edwards, winning Whitchurch a short corner. Amy Fry received the ball at the top of the Dee, which she crossed in, with Nina Hodges making a beautiful deflection in, leaving the score at 1-0 when the half time whistle blew.

Both teams continued to persevere through the second half, with Samantha Parkhurst and Emily Lister working together in the middle of the pitch to create more chances for the up front players. Countless runs were made up the side of the pitch by Louise Whitley, but despite this, Triton managed to make some counter attacks. Mel Reid and Libby Fox worked with the other defenders, to allow Whitchurch to keep a clean slate. Whitchurch’s resilience showed, with Amy Fry managing to set up another goal for Nina Hodges to score before the game drew to a close, leaving the final score at 2-0 to Whitchurch. Players player was Annie Buckeridge.

Match Reports 16/11/19

Neston Men’s 5s 3 Whitchurch Men’s 1s 2

Whitchurch lost their first game of the season against a strong Neston team this week, dropping them from the top of the table. Some days a team can play badly but still win, and others they can play well enough but just come up against better competition, and this week was the latter: Neston had strength throughout their team, with pace and skill throughout, and played as a team and it was enough for them to nick the win.

Whitchurch started well enough, with good movement around the back – Danny Foulkes was flanked by Chris Ruscoe and James Partington and they moved the ball across the pitch confidently before starting attacks down either wing. Tom Forster on the left and Ben Kimberley on the right provided width, and Dale Seymour and Jack Barnes controlled the centre of the pitch. A new three-up-front formation had Nick Cooper, Jon Chappel and Craig Hockenhull playing higher up and moving the width further forward, and this gave the Reds the edge for the first half.

The first goal was a beauty, and was the kind of goal you practise and practise in the hopes of it working one day: Barnes drove down the right and fired a ball in, but it smacked into a Neston leg; as the advantage was played, Barnes’ second strike fizzed into the dee and Chappell got a lovely glancing touch on it and it flew into the goal. A defender’s nightmare to try to block, given the velocity of the ball, and the Reds deserved to be ahead at that point.

The game then settled, and Neston put together a number of good runs. Paul “Sturge” Leigh was instrumental in keeping the scoresheet clean with some critical blocks and he was able to run out and delay attackers whilst the defence ran back. Fred Egerton, Pip Jones and Airan Jones were used well as substitutes to keep the intensity high and Whitchurch were unlucky not to grab a couple more, with Cooper striking the outside of the post, and the Neston keeper pulling off some great saves.

The second half had the game turn in Neston’s favour: they started leaving two players up front, which gave the Reds more to think about there, and Hockenhull’s constant harrowing of the Neston defence caused them to turn to aerial balls to get out of the back, but these started to have some success and Neston launched attacks down the left from them. They were able to get two quick goals off this form of attack before Whitchurch adapted, and this put the Reds on the back foot.

Whitchurch were able to get a goal back, with some sublime work down the left: Barnes passed to Kimberley who raced down the left side of the pitch before getting into the dee and unleashing a rocket into the top of the net. Despite Sturge making even more diving saves and blocks, good opposition pressure and some poor clearances meant Neston were able to nick another on the break, and they kept that pressure up until the end of the game, with a number of short corners which the Reds did well to deal with.

Ultimately, the stronger team won. Neston came out in the second half with a better game plan, and it worked. Whitchurch played well enough for most of the game, but it wasn’t to be this week. Next weekend they have two home games, catching up on last week’s missed game, so will have to take the lessons from this game and reapply themselves well to get back to the top of the table.

Whitchurch Men’s 2s 5 – 0 Neston Men’s 8s

Whitchurch Men’s 2s were looking to build on the excellent result and performance against Runcorn the previous weekend, but Neston 8s were also going well this season, so the fixture at SJT promised to be tight game.

However, the home side took control from the first whistle and, bar a few moments, they remained in control of the game until the end. The defence of Wyn Morris, Brendan Coburn and Gareth Teggin were strong and composed in dealing with Neston’s attacking threat and this enabled Will Snaith and Doug Buckeridge to push up and support the Whitchurch attacks.

Richard Leigh provided the solid platform in midfield, allowing Luke Beddow, Joe Coburn and Alex Leigh to work close to the Neston dee, providing clever passes and runs to outmanoeuvre the away defence throughout the game.

Will Gilbert, Jacob Buckeridge, Ethan Gresty and Joe Faithfull provided good width on the flanks and were diligent in their defensive duties, whilst Euan Morris was a constant threat to the Neston goal.

Despite controlling the opening exchanges, Whitchurch couldn’t quite manufacture a clear goal scoring chance. After a bizarre short corner that went very badly wrong, the home side got into their groove with a well-worked routine that saw Euan Morris and Joe Coburn exchange passes in the dee and Euan then fire into the bottom corner to open the scoring.

Chances started to come the home side’s way and the Neston keeper made some good saves, but Euan was quick to pounce on a rebound and double the Whitchurch lead by lifting the ball over the prone keeper.

Whitchurch continued to dominate, but tempers started to fray as the away side felt umpiring decisions were going against them. The home side compounded those frustrations when Euan slotted in a third goal to make the score 3-0 at the break.

Neston came out with renewed purpose at the start of the second half and enjoyed a sustained period of possession, but the Whitchurch defence was excellent and prevented any real danger to keeper Neil Jones’ goal.

Progressively Whitchurch wrestled back control and repeatedly advanced on the Neston goal. Chances came and went. Ethan Gresty was twice unfortunate not to turn in at the back post. The Neston keeper made some good saves and his defenders did well to clear some of the ensuing danger. But they couldn’t repel every attack and Whitchurch added another goal through Luke Beddow who followed up well after several shots from a short corner were blocked or saved, and then Ethan Gresty swept home on the reverse stick after being neatly set-up by Jacob Buckeridge.

For a change this season, Whitchurch diligently protected their clean sheet and saw out the 5-0 win without any significant alarms.

This was another excellent performance from the young 2s. They played some top-quality hockey at times during the game. Joe Coburn and Luke Beddow were excellent throughout, and their interplay in tight areas was a joy to behold. Euan Morris continues to be a significant threat up front and is scoring goals for fun at the moment. The wide players are getting better with each game; making the pitch big when the team has the ball; and small when defending. Jacob, Will, Ethan and Joe Faithfull all found themselves in dangerous attacking positions because of their clever running. And once again the defenders and Richard Leigh provided the solid platform enabling the forward players to play high up the pitch and pen the opposition near their own goal.

Next week the Men’s 2s will be looking to continue their good run of form when they travel to the Wirral to take on Bebington 4s.

Knutsford ladies 1s 2 Whitchurch ladies 1s 4

Whitchurch ladies 1s travelled away to play second in division Knutsford 1s. With a strong team and two subs Whitchurch attacked from the start, but Knutsford had a strong keen team which held Whitchurch off for some time before they won a short corner and Hebe Dixon fired the ball for Stephanie Stanton to deflect into the top net.

Knutsford attacked hard down the middle taking Whitchurch off guard and scoring. Mid fielders Lisa Sullivan, Catherine Winter-Gresty and Dixon held tight pushing the ball out wide using the width of Ellie Windsor and Izzy Huxley. With lots of pressure on Knutsford defence eventually allowed Lisa Sullivan to eject into the dee from half way, hitting the post and Huxley collecting and scoring their second.

Knutsford came back hard again and with lots of pressure broke down the Whitchurch defence Chloe Lloyd, Molly Fry and Millie Edwards and equalised.

Just before half time Whitchurch had time to score another, with Ellie Windsor taking on the keeper from a deflection and taking the lead.

Half time talk and re-energised Whitchurch took control of the game with quicker passes and runs from Kezzie Hutching’s and Sophie Ward allowing lots more action in the Knutsford dee. Sarah Field was heavily marked but broke and fought with several defenders and keeper to slip into the goal.

At 4 – 2 the Knutsford players heads had lowered and for the last five minutes Whitchurch passed around them making lots more chances to score with some lovely shots in from the Winter-Gresty, Sullivan and Field. But Knutsford dropped back stopping anymore goals for Whitchurch.

Sarah Field was awarded player.

Whitchurch play two home games next weekend as they catchup on re-arranged games.

Sandbach ladies 2’s 3 Whitchurch ladies 3’s 3

Whitchurch travelled to a new away venue this week to play Sandbach 2’s at South Cheshire College.

It was clear right from the start that the teams were evenly matched with strong attacks from both sides. Whitchurch’s well organised defence of Hermonie Ball, Jan Teggin and Mel Reid managed to prevent Sandbach from entering the Whitchurch dee and provided excellent passes out to Jasmin Williams and Caitlin Edwards on the right wing and Emily Lister on the left, who then put in some brilliant passing to Kate Buckeridge and Emma Stubbs storming down the left wing. Phoebe Jones who covered a huge central area up front, deftly received some excellent passes from centre half Wendy Cooper.

Despite lots of possession, Whitchurch failed to score in the first 10 minutes as Kate B was struggling with the pace of the pitch (it was not running as fast as her!); Stubbs was really unlucky not to score the 2nd goal of her debut season with a fantastic sprawl in the Sandbach dee; Jones had several strikes at goal denied by the excellent Sandbach keeper; and Cooper managed to hit the outside of the left goal post.

After a quick reorganisation of players, Annie Buckeridge stormed onto the pitch at left inner and gave Whitchurch a new lease of life. Sam Parkhurst provided some extra support in the middle and Annie Leigh on the left. This change of tactics led to Kate B managing to push the ball between the keeper’s legs and score her first goal for Whitchurch. Unfortunately, an undeterred Sandbach managed to equalise shortly afterwards leaving the score 1-1 at half time.

The 2nd half was a similar end to end affair with some excellent defending from Sandbach denying Edwards and Williams goals from the right-hand side of the pitch and Jones and Leigh on the left.

The counter attacks from Sandbach were swift and left Whitchurch high up the pitch and despite a valiant attempt to race back and defend from Teggin, Cooper and Ball, Sandbach forced an own goal to put them ahead 2-1. Then a break through run from Kate B from the half way line, through a sandwich of defenders at the dee edge, led to a strike from Jones who found the back board of the Sandbach goal giving Whitchurch the equaliser.

Sandbach kept attacking and despite some excellent leaves and saves from keeper Louise Cotterill, Whitchurch conceded another goal putting Sandbach ahead with 10 minutes left to play. Despite this, Whitchurch refused to give up and attacked back narrowly missing several short corner attempts from Williams and Jones. Captain Cooper drove forwards with two reverse stick shots towards goal and this seemed to spur Whitchurch on leading to a last-minute equaliser by Annie Buckeridge leaving the score 3-3 at full-time. A great game which demonstrated how well this 3rd team has improved since last season.

The ladies 2s game was a walkover as the opposition failed to raise a team.

Senior, Junior and Academy hockey in North Shropshire