Llandudno Mens 2s 3 Whitchurch Mens 2s 1
Following 2 straight defeats, Whitchurch 2s travelled to North Wales to face a Llandudno 2s team also struggling to find some form this season.
The Welsh team started the game brightly and immediately forced Whitchurch back towards their own goal. The defence of Iain Bones, Ryan Murtagh, James Nicholson and Richard Leigh repelled the early Llandudno attacks with no particular alarms within the Whitchurch dee. There were opportunities for Whitchurch to hit Llandudno on the counter-attack, but a well marshalled Welsh defence was able to overwhelm the Whitchurch midfield and curtail any opportunities high up the pitch.
As the half wore on Llandudno’s attacking passes managed to find their targets more often and the Whitchurch goal came under increasing threat. The Whitchurch defending became more “last-ditch” with some excellent tackles from Murtagh and Bones in the dee and some good stops from keeper, Neil Jones.
Ultimately the pressure told and Llandudno worked some space on the right-hand side of the Whitchurch dee and were able to fire past Jones.
Despite the pressure on their own goal, Whitchurch were becoming more of a threat at the other end of the pitch, although they struggled to create any clear-cut chances. However on one break Ben Fry showed great speed and skill as he burst into the Llandudno dee, but unfortunately his ferocious shot was straight at the Welsh keeper.
As Whitchurch looked to push forward in search of an equaliser, Llandudno hit back on the counter-attack and just before half-time they fashioned a shooting chance on the edge of the dee which was blasted past Jones for 2-0.
The second-half followed a similar pattern to the end of the first half. Llandudno dominated possession and territory, forcing Whitchurch into more desperate defending and goalkeeping, but Whitchurch continued to look to counter-attack fast through the strong running of Airan Jones, Euan Stant, Alex Fry and Doug Buckeridge in their attempts to support Tom Forster up front.
Llandudno, however, duly made it 3-0 from a short corner midway through the second half, which prompted Whitchurch to swap Tom Forster into defence and Ryan Murtagh to centre-forward. This paid immediate dividends with the Whitchurch counter-attacks now pivoting around Murtagh, who was able to bring the supporting players into the game closer to the Llandudno dee and more chances were created.
Stant, Ben Fry, Buckeridge and Murtagh all had shots at goal and a number of long and short corners were won in the final quarter of the game. Eventually a nice pass from Ben Fry found Murtagh in the Llandudno dee, and his switch to the reverse stick saw him fire in to make the score 3-1. But despite their hard work, Whitchurch were unable to reduce the deficit further and the game finished 3-1 to Llandudno.
This was a tough game for Whitchurch against an experienced Llandudno side and travelling without any substitutes for this match meant the Whitchurch players had to work very hard for the full 70 minutes. Although Llandudno had a greater number, and better quality chances, this inexperienced Whitchurch side finished the game very strongly and put the Welsh team under a bit of pressure at the end of the game.
The Whitchurch 2s now have a 2-week break before they entertain Chester 6s on November 5th.
Whitchurch Mens 1s 6 Neston Mens 6s 0
Whitchurch played at home this week against a young Neston 6s team, and experience proved the deciding factor. Despite some changes in personnel, Whitchurch were able to field a strong team, with Craig Hockenhull coming into the centre with Joel Leese, providing stability and passing options, while Martin Beecher, Tom Leonard, Ben Kimberley and Jack Barnes rotated well around the front to keep the pressure on Neston. An early Whitchurch goal from Martin Beecher helped settle the game into a pattern, and Whitchurch were then able to start moving the ball around confidently, launching attacks up both wings, as well as through the centre.
In response, Neston tried to use a high man to break the Whitchurch defence, but he was excellently marked out of the game by Matt Brooks, leaving Neston with the harder task of having to drive the ball up through players instead. Strong defensive work, cutting out clearing passes, and a high press from Whitchurch meant the game was played predominantly in the Neston half, and two more goals from Tom Leonard and Ben Kimberley duly followed before the break.
The second half started much more calmly, with Neston defending well and Whitchurch missing a number of chances. Aaron Swain in goal came out strongly to deny the few chances Neston were able to make, and Peter Scales and Jake Wood were able to clear the ball quickly up the lines. Tom Leonard was able to score two more from some very hard strikes and Steve Lloyd scored after a goal-mouth scramble. It was another strong performance from Whitchurch, who are away next week to Northop Hall.
Whitchurch Ladies 1s 0 Oxton Ladies 2s 1
Whitchurch Ladies 1s welcomed Oxton 2s to their home ground on Saturday. Both teams knew the game would be tough, having moved up together from the division below last season.
From the start both teams were evenly matched. Whitchurch fought hard to find opportunities to get in Oxton’s dee and despite having possession were denied any shots on goal. Oxton sat back and soaked up the Whitchurch pressure waiting to capitalise on any Whitchurch mistakes. Oxton finally got their first opportunity late on in the half when they were rewarded a penalty corner and threatened to take the lead but failed to find the final touch.
The halftime talk for Whitchurch emphasised to keep things simple and stay disciplined and positive and continue as they had in the first half.
Whitchurch again took the game to Oxton and as chances were scrambled away from the Oxton goal from Laura Workman and Grace Berry the ladies heads never dropped and neither did the work rate.
The game was eventually settled as Whitchurch clearance was miss hit and fell to the Oxton centre forward to tap into the Whitchurch goal.
As Whitchurch pushed for the equaliser the game became more open and an excellent save by 1st team debutant Maddy Sugden in goal kept Whitchurch in the game. The final five minutes saw Whitchurch camped at the Oxton end of the pitch desperately trying to get back in the game. The final whistle saw a dejected Whitchurch team who played one of their strongest performances of the season but failed to come away with any points.
The ladies 1s entertain Alderley Edge next weekend starting at 12.30 at the Whitchurch Leisure Centre.
In the absence of a fixture this week the Whitchurch 2s took the opportunity to mix with the new senior and junior players and play a 2s v 3s (see attached photo).