Macclesfield Men’s 3s 5 Whitchurch Men’s 1s 4
Whitchurch returned to action after an extended winter break, having lost three practice sessions to frozen pitches and a game against a team who have since dropped out of the league, and unfortunately it showed against a Macclesfield team at the lower end of the division. A lack of match fitness, and a well-drilled display from Macclesfield, meant that Whitchurch were slow to start, and it cost them as an attack down the right came off Jack Barnes’ foot in front of the goal, and they scored from the subsequent penalty stoke.
The Reds were able to regroup and moved the ball better to recapture some of the simple hockey from the first part of the season, and a drive up the left side-line was crossed by Sam Conway to Nick Cooper who put a simple tap-in away to level the scores. Macclesfield responded quickly, which some good stick skills and quick movement ending in a ball being driven hard into the dee and a striker at the top just laying his stick down for an unstoppable deflection.
Play settled then for large periods, but Whitchurch lacked the finesse on the ball, with first-touches going awry and passes stopping short or getting intercepted, and despite some excellent work by Paul “Sturge” Leigh in goal, Macclesfield were able to grab another from open play, getting through Whitchurch’s defences all too easily. At half-time, with the score line at 1-3, Whitchurch knew they had some work to do in the second half, and Captain Alex Fry’s team-talk was about just improving the basics, and taking more care with the ball.
The second half was much better, with Barnes picking up the ball and driving diagonally across most of the pitch before passing to Conway, who in turn laid it off to Cooper who got his second with another tap-in. His third followed shortly afterwards, with supply from Craig Hockenhull this time. Control and movement were much better, and Tom Forster, Fred Egerton and Ben Kimberley provided width and movement in the Macclesfield half, and Danny Foulkes, Steve Kay, James Partington and Airan Jones held the defence with more composure than in the first half, and confidence was high for a positive result – especially when Alex Fry buried a first-strike from a short corner just past the keeper’s right boot.
However, it was not to be: as Whitchurch tired, Macclesfield attacked, and a drive into the dee bounced off a diving Sturge before the follow-up strike went in. Another drive forward sent a ball towards the Whitchurch dee, bobbling over the outstretched stick of Barnes, who was covering the defence, and was collected and put away by Macclesfield. Despite three consecutive short corners at the final whistle, the Reds just couldn’t find the final touch which would have levelled the scores, and finished agonisingly 4-5 down. Whitchurch are at home next week against Keele University, when they will need to ensure that the basics are back in place for a tough match against a team who drew 3-3 last time in a closely-balanced encounter.
Whitchurch ladies 2s 1 Deeside ladies 4s 1
On Saturday 26th January, Whitchurch ladies 2s played host to Deeside Ramblers 4s, who they drew with at their last meeting. After a run of defeats Whitchurch were up for a win.
After a slow warm up, Whitchurch switched on at the whistle. Captain Emma Clarke chose to run into the wind in the first half, but this didn’t affect the determination of the team from the off. Although Deeside took the first push back, it was easily intercepted by Molly Fry, who drove the ball through the centre of the pitch picking out Becky Brookfield and onto Jess Kimberley who narrowly missed the goal. This was the way Whitchurch were going to play the whole game with attacking determination.
Whitchurch kept up this strong attack for much of the first half Deeside did have a quick break into the Whitchurch dee which goalkeeper Gwyn Thomas-Rees quickly dealt with. The formidable defence of Emma Clarke and Chloe Lloyd were having an effect on the Deeside attack and this led to frustration and Deeside being reduced to ten after comments to the umpires. During this time Whitchurch fought to benefit from Deeside’s reduced numbers, winning a short corner but as with Whitchurch’s luck this season failing to convert.
One of the most effective set plays for Whitchurch took place in the first half, Deeside had a free hit in Whitchurch’s 25, but with Whitchurch marking Deeside had to play backwards to gain any space and time on the ball. Amelie Morris and Phoebe Jones on the right caused the Deeside defence issues throughout the match creating opportunities for the Whitchurch side.
Whitchurch finally took the lead towards the end of the first half from a short corner. Tracy Tolhurst injected to Becky Brookfield at the top of the dee, who struck the ball at goal for Tolhurst to deflect in and give Whitchurch the lead at half time.
After a strong team talk Whitchurch lined up for the second half with the wind and rain behind them. However, Deeside had chance to regroup and came out on the offensive. In a moment of disorganisation by Whitchurch defence Deeside took their opportunity and scored an equalising goal.
This speared Deeside on and only some fine defending by Ellie McEvoy and Beth Wright on the left kept the scores level. Deeside didn’t have it all their way, Whitchurch built up their attack from the back linking moves through Ellie McEvoy, Emily Vernon, Tolhurst and Kimberley into the dee.
Whitchurch had their best opportunity to take the lead when awarded a penalty flick but unfortunately, they failed to capitalise. Deeside pushed a winning goal in the later stages of the match but the defence held strong keeping out a number of shots.
The match ended one all and Whitchurch gave everything to win the point against a strong Deeside team. Player’s player went to Keeper Gwyn Thomas-Rees.
Next week Whitchurch 2s travel to Brooklands.
Whitchurch Men’s 2s 1 Golborne Men’s 3s 1
When Whitchurch travelled to Golborne for their first game of the season, back in September, they ended up on the end of an 8-0 hammering. Although the 2s had some good moments, Golborne were vastly superior that day, so Saturday’s visit to SJT by the Warrington side was going to be a good gauge of how far the young and relatively inexperienced 2s squad had progressed over the course of the season.
That progress was demonstrated early in the first half. After an even opening few minutes, where Golborne has dominated territory and possession but Whitchurch had looked threatening on the counter, Whitchurch opened the scoring with an incisive breakaway goal. Neat passing through midfield found Luke Beddow in good space on the left, his clever pass found Euan Morris in the dee, and as Euan drew the keeper of his line he unselfishly squared the ball for Richard Leigh to fire into the unguarded goal.
Boosted by their early goal, Whitchurch started to dominate the game and spent a lot of time camped in the visitors’ half. Joe Coburn, Paul Humphries, Dave Mitchell-Lane and Pip Jones were providing quality possession in the middle of the pitch and with Luke Beddow and Joe Faithfull stretching the Golborne defence, by taking up good positions on the flanks. As gaps began to appear, the 2s were able to fashion some good shooting chances.
The Warrington side were always a threat on the counterattack and the Whitchurch defenders had to be on their toes. Brendan Coburn did well dealing with the threat down the Golborne left, and Doug Buckeridge and Mark Sugden were stifling any danger coming through the middle of the pitch. The visitors did win a succession of short corners midway through the half, but a combination of Wyn Morris’ brave running and blocks, and some great stops from keeper Gareth Teggin preserved the 1-0 lead until halftime.
The second half was the complete opposite of the first. Following a reshuffle, Golborne took control of the game and Whitchurch found it difficult to maintain possession. Like last week, the Reds really struggled to deal with opposition players picking the ball up deep in their own half and just running straight down the centre of the pitch. The Golborne attacks became more threatening and despite the midfield and wingers, Ethan Gresty and Will Snaith, tracking back to help the defenders, Gareth Teggin was forced to make another couple of excellent stops to preserve the team’s one goal lead.
Whitchurch did have their moments and threatened to increase their lead. Great play from Euan Morris saw him beat the last defender and run clean through on goal, but the keeper made a good stop, and Richard Leigh went close twice at the back post from short corner routines. Alas the home team couldn’t quite fashion that second goal.
Ultimately the failure to extend the lead proved costly. As Whitchurch’s defending became more and more desperate in the closing stages of the match, the visitors won another succession of short corners and despite the dogged defending, a ricochet off a defenders stick fell kindly for Golborne to equalise at the back post.
Both teams then looked to charge forward looking for a late winner and Golborne thought they’d got it with seconds left in the game, but to their annoyance and Whitchurch’s relief the goal was ruled out for a swinging stick in the build-up. The Reds managed to see out the remaining seconds for a satisfying 1-1 draw.
Using the two performances against Golborne as a gauge there has been clear development in the quality of hockey from this team. All of the young players are making valuable contributions, although this week special mentions to Luke Beddow and Joe Faithfull who had excellent games on the wings, providing useful width in attack but also real application to get back and defend when Whitchurch were under pressure. It was also great to welcome Pip Jones back to competitive hockey; his strength and experience really helping the team to take the game to Golborne in the first half and survive the onslaught in the second period.
Next up for the 2s is an away friendly to Sandbach 3s on Saturday 2nd February.
Winnington Park Ladies 2s 2 Whitchurch ladies 1s 8
Both teams got off to a strong start with the first 10 minutes remaining a stale mate with lots of attacking down both ends of the pitch and a few missed opportunities from both sides. Soon though, Whitchurch found an opening with a deflected goal past the keeper from Helena Dannenfeldt. This really motivated Whitchurch with lots of crucial runs through the middle from Lisa Sullivan and lots of strong runs from Ellie Windsor on the wing leading to more chances and soon these paid off with two more goals from Dannenfeldt again in quick succession for her second hattrick in as many matches.
The final 10 minutes of the half Whitchurch began to tire, as they had no subs, meaning Winnington began putting more pressure on our defence but with some strong tackles from Catherine Reece-Gresty and immaculate clearances from Millie Edwards to get rid of the danger leaving the score 3-0 to Whitchurch going into the half-time break.
Whitchurch resumed the game very strongly with lots of attack down the left hand side from Helen Mellor, soon leading to some short corners, one of which was dribbled through the defence by Hebe Dixon for Whitchurch’s 4th of the match.
Whitchurch kept up the momentum with some beautiful runs from Sophie Ward to get on the end of some long balls to drive the attack. This soon led to another goal with Dannenfeldt setting up Dixon for her second. After going 5-0 up, Whitchurch began to lose their heads allowing Winnington to gain some short corners which were well rehearsed, but Edwards and Ward managed to keep the ball out.
Finally, Winnington got their reward after a lapse in concentration by Whitchurch led to a counter attack goal. Whitchurch soon regained focus and, shortly after, Izzy Huxley got rewarded for her brilliant positioning throughout the game with a deflection through the keeper’s legs at the far post. Whitchurch remained strong winning some short corners which eventually led to a goal from captain Cath Gresty to set the scores at 8-1.
In the final few minutes, it was evident that Whitchurch were in need of a fresh pair of legs after a full hour of pretty intense hockey meaning Winnington could gain some valuable corners. Although some great shots were kept out with more killer saves from keeper Maddy Sugden, one managed to slip past the defenders putting the final score at 8-2. This is a great and crucial win for Whitchurch and player of the match was awarded to Helena Dannenfeldt.
Whitchurch ladies 3s 0 Eirias Ladies 1’s 10
Whitchurch had fielded a strong team and against the run-away league leaders who had scored 100+ goals in the league before Christmas. Having lost to them away 0-9 earlier in the season, Whitchurch were hopeful to get a closer score line this time as they had travelled to Whitchurch. However, Eirias broke quickly with fast, hard hitting passes which despite the valiant defence of Emily Hilton, Wendy Cooper and Emily Lister, they managed to score three quick goals in the first 15 minutes.
It was the first time Whitchurch had started a match in the rain this season and we were soon soaked to the skin but at least this week Louise Cottrell in goal was kept busy and was warm! Caitlin Edwards, Gwyn Thomas-Rees and Edina Jones linked up well on the right-hand side driving forward and tracking back well to help the defence. Nikki Foster made some excellent runs down the middle picking up some hard-hit outs by Emily Hilton, both attempting to get the ball to Annie Buckeridge in the dee but unfortunately the supporting attack couldn’t get there fast enough to help her out. Eirias were very fast on the counter attack and managed to score another 4 goals making the score 0-7 to the away team at half time.
After a rousing team talk by captain Wendy Cooper at half time, Whitchurch started quickly, and Kate Buckeridge tried to use the waterlogged pitch to her advantage hoping no one would follow her into the puddles on the left wing and managed to get a few passes to Laura Workman near the dee but Eirias were fast to clear the ball to their waiting attacking players.
Despite some magnificent saves by Louise Cottrell and brave tackling in the dee, Eiras managed to score a further 3 goals bringing the final score to 0-10.
The umpires decided that the game should be abandoned 20 minutes into the 2nd half due to the waterlogged pitch but enough of the game was played for the result to stand.
Although Whitchurch were sad to lose by double figures they did ourselves proud by running to the point of exhaustion in very tricky conditions. Emily Lister was nominated ‘Players player’.