Whitchurch Men’s 1s 2 Lymm Men’s 2s 2
Whitchurch started their season at home against a team from Lymm who finished one place above them last year and had proved capable opposition in both matches, so were set for a tough, competitive match. With a change in personnel for the new season, the Reds were able to give games to new players whilst restructuring the formations around the current players so it was the first chance to see how that would work.
Craig Hockenhull led the charge from the front, playing a number of good one-two movements with Peter Scales and Tom Forster on the wings. Jack Barnes provided the strength in midfield, flanked by Ben Kimberley and Ben Fry, and they were able to command large periods of the first half, with Airan Jones and Sam Conway rotating in for the wingers to ensure the pressure was always on the Lymm defence. That pressure eventually told as, after a number of near misses and saves by the Lymm keeper, a goalmouth scramble allowed Ben Kimberley to put the ball through the keeper’s legs for the Reds’ first goal.
Lymm took this as an opportunity to restructure their attack, moving to a plan of leaving a high man up and hoping for a lucky ball through the middle or left, but the defence of Rob Chappell, James Partington, Alex Fry and Jake Wood were able to withstand most of the attacks, and Lymm were unlucky with their last touches on a couple of occasions and what did go at goal was dealt with positively by Paul “Sturge” Leigh. Eventually their attacks bore fruit as a drive down the right wing and across the baseline took an unfortunate bobble over a defender’s stick allowing it through to the striker who was able to get it past Sturge in goal.
At one-all, the half-time talk was all about maintaining what had been a solid performance in the first half, not letting heads drop and just to continue to do things the right way. The game continued to be very evenly balanced and allowed for some real moments of skill with the midfield and forwards putting together some of the smooth, slick hockey that has been a growing part of the Whitchurch game. With time ticking, and early-season fitness yet to blossom, Lymm were able to take advantage on the break to put pressure on the Reds’ defence to claim a short corner, and some good fortune on their part saw their strike bounce back onto a diving keeper to go in.
Whitchurch rallied though, and were able to draw level again through some well worked passes through the middle allowing Alex Fry a shot on goal that the keeper could only fend off into the path of a rapidly arriving Hockenhull who put the ball away confidently. The end of the game was marred by an injury to Ben Fry whose stick got caught causing a painful shoulder injury, so we wish him a speedy recovery. The 2-2 result was a fair reflection of a good game played in a fine spirit between two evenly matched teams. The man of the match is shared between Barnes, Kimberley and Ben Fry for taking control of the game and giving the rest of the team a foundation from which to build.
Whitchurch ladies 3s 0 Macclesfield ladies 4s 3
Whitchurch started strong and took possession despite Macclesfield having first push back. Annie Buckeridge drove the ball through the midfield to have first shot on goal going just wide.
Whitchurch maintained the majority of possession, Emily Hilton making some lovely interceptions and quick passes to Kate Buckeridge who created many opportunities on the wing.
Despite being the dominant force Whitchurch succumbed to a strong hit from the Macclesfield defence and a fast attack which they clinically finished.
Whitchurch kept up the high work rare and quick passes between Caitlin Edwards and Holly Gilbert give Whitchurch more chances on goal.
The second half saw Whitchurch come back with determination however newly empowered Macclesfield were hungry for more and dominated the early exchanges. Great defending by both Jan Teggin and Emily Lister brought Whitchurch back to life. Martha Teggin held the midfield well making some lovely passes. Whitchurch regained possession and had more opportunities to pressure the Macclesfield dee but without success.
Despite great efforts Macclesfield scored their second goal about 15 minutes into the half. Macclesfield continued the attacks, Louise Cotterill worked hard in goal saving a number of shots but eventually from a short corner Macclesfield scored their 3rd goal.
Whitchurch ladies continued to work and regain possession until the final whistle but without reward.
Golborne Men’s 3s 8 Whitchurch Men’s 2s 0
Whitchurch Men’s 2s began their league campaign, full of optimism, with a lunchtime trip to Warrington to play Golborne 3s. Despite the absence of Captain Neil Jones, the Reds were able to take a squad of 15 to Warrington, including 8 senior players; however, things didn’t go quite as they’d hoped.
Whitchurch started brightly enough, with both sides battling for control of midfield and able to make progress up to their opponent’s dee before the attacks broke down. Iain Bones, Wyn Morris and Mark Sugden were excellent in defence for the Reds, breaking up the Golborne attacks and driving the ball forward, where Nick Cooper was linking well with Fred Egerton and Euan Morris on the wings to give Golborne a few nervy moments.
Midway through the first half a Whitchurch attack broke down on the edge of the Golborne dee, and the home side were able to break with numbers on the exposed Whitchurch defence. With superior numbers, Golborne worked the ball around the Reds defenders and opened the scoring … and the floodgates.
As Whitchurch drove forward in search of a goal, they continued to leave big gaps in midfield. Phil Tranter and Danny Foulkes were both left exposed in the centre of the pitch as Golborne’s powerful runners led the counter-attacks on the Whitchurch goal. The defence continued to work hard to keep the ball away from goal and Gareth Teggin, making his senior debut in goal, made some excellent saves and clearances, but Golborne scored twice more to take a 3-0 lead into the half-time break.
The second half followed a similar pattern to the first. In the early stages of the half Whitchurch moved the ball forward quite neatly, with Joe Faithfull and James Page creating width and Joe Coburn providing some controlled possession in attacking areas. The defence kept the Golborne attacks away from goal and Gareth made a number of good clearances when called upon.
But as legs began to tire and substitutes rotated on, Whitchurch began to lose some control. Again as attacks broke down near the Golborne dee, the Reds were exposed by powerful running on the counter-attack. With the defence and Gareth struggling to deal with greater numbers, playing good attacking hockey, Golborne began to score at will, ultimately running out winners by eight goals to nil.
This was a chastening experience for Whitchurch. They played well in patches, but struggled to really threaten the Golborne goal from open play. Particular mention should go to Euan Morris, Joe Faithfull, Joe Coburn and Nick Cooper who combined well when attacking down the right, but ultimately the Golborne defenders were able to prevent the moves turning into clear shots at goal. It was nice to welcome Phil Tranter and Dave Mitchell-Lane back to 2s hockey after a few years away from the game, and 13 year-old Ethan Gresty acquitted himself really well in his first senior game.
In the end Golborne’s experience, technical skill and powerful running were too much for Whitchurch and they were deserved winners.