Whitchurch Men’s 1s 3 Keele University Men’s 1s 1
Whitchurch were looking to return to winning ways this week after last week’s away draw, playing a Keele University team who had given them two tough games last season. The Reds also had a large squad this week with their stronger players all available to play, so were hoping to put on a good performance – but it wasn’t that straightforward. Having so many substitutes to roll on and off actually caused quite a bit of disruption to play, with the initial solid start to the game then interrupted with players not settling quickly enough as they came on, and not always in the right positions.
As it was though, Whitchurch did make the stronger side against a youthful university team and Danny Foulkes’ pass through to Chris Ruscoe, playing his first game for several years, was rifled into the back of the goal. Nick Cooper and Jon Chappell caused problems for the Keele defence, and were helped by Ben Kimberley and Craig Hockenhull who provided width and options. Dale Seymour and Jack Barnes held the middle of the pitch, and Joel Leese and Marcus Conway drove the wings from midfield. Foulkes provided strength at the back, with Tom Forster moving well in front of him, and Ruscoe and James Partington gave width at the back, to try to implement Foulkes’ game plan of better use of the whole pitch this match.
The first set of substitutions unfortunately unbalanced things, as the team as a whole failed to cope well enough with the fluidity required to maintain good pressure and, instead of providing impact, it gave interruption. It was hard to put a finger on why things didn’t work, but it will be something the team needs to work out quickly. Communication wasn’t great, passes weren’t strong enough, and people didn’t move off the ball as well as they have done in previous matches. There were still moments of good work, with a quick break by Seymour ending with a pass across to Chappell who scored well into the Keele goal.
This was balanced by trouble at the other end of the pitch, with Keele making a number of successful breaks, and player-of-the-match Paul “Sturge” Leigh making a number of critical saves, including a full-stretch diving block to keep Keele out. They did finally grab a goal, with questions over the taking of a free hit causing delays in the Whitchurch team responding to a quick attack and Sturge was unable to block the overload.
The game settled and, with players taking on Foulkes’ half-time words about how the subs needed to work, the second half was much better. Fred Egerton did well at left back, and Sam Conway worked well in midfield to spread the ball out wide. Alex Fry held the pitch in front of the defenders, and the team started to work better for each other again. This resulted in some decent play with much of the last few minutes being played in the Keele twenty-three metre area, and a good drive into the dee by Forster was followed by his strike on goal with Cooper popping up to tap it in from a few inches away.
Whitchurch remain top of the league and have an away game at Bowden next week where they will hope to have ironed out things and continue to play the good hockey they know they can.
Deeside Ramblers 7s 1 Whitchurch Men’s 2s 5
For the first time in a long time, the men’s section of the hockey club was over-subscribed for players for the weekend’s fixtures. Once again, the 2s fielded a full squad of 16 and despite the youthful make-up of the squad, the Men’s 2s produced an excellent performance to emphatically beat Deeside at Malpas.
The Reds immediately took control of the game, passing the ball neatly through the midfield trio of Joe Coburn, Airan Jones and Luke Beddow. With Deeside struggling to get out of their own half, Whitchurch pressed their opponents back towards their own goal and forced a succession of short corners. But despite varying the routines, the Reds couldn’t find their way past the resolute Deeside defenders and keeper.
Throughout the first half Whitchurch created opportunities but repeatedly they chose the wrong options when well placed. Will Gilbert was unlucky with a lofted flick that went wide, Dave Mitchell-Lane almost got on the end of an excellent cross-field pass from Euan Morris and Airan Jones flashed shots wide with players in support.
The Reds’ defence of Brendan Coburn, Wyn Morris, Will Snaith and Alex Leigh were excellent throughout. Whenever the home looked to make progress up the pitch they were well stopped by the defenders. Will and Alex both worked hard to provide support to the forward players.
Given the number of opportunities created in the first half, it was surprising and slightly disappointing to go into the half-time interval level at 0-0. The only criticism of the Whitchurch side was the lack of width … a familiar failing this season … so the challenge for the second half was for the wingers to stretch the pitch and the Deeside defence … and they must have been listening!
Right from the start of the second half Jacob Buckeridge and Joe Faithful worked hard to maintain the team’s width right across the attacking areas of the pitch. As the home side’s defence stretched to meet the wingers, more space opened up through the middle of the pitch and the Whitchurch attacks became much more dangerous.
The midfield, including Ethan Gresty and Dave Brunyard, were driving through the centre of the pitch and causing havoc for the Deeside defenders. The home keeper was again performing heroics, with some fine stops but eventually Whitchurch got the goal they deserved. Joe Faithful did well to pull the ball away from the prone keeper during a scramble and then smack the ball high into the net via the keeper’s outstretched arm.
This opened the floodgates. As Deeside looked to push forward in search of an equaliser, they left large spaces in behind their midfield. Whitchurch’s speed on the counterattack was devastating. Airan Jones scored a neat reverse stick finish after another fine save from the Deeside keeper. Euan Morris continued his scoring run with an excellent run and finish into the far corner and then doubled his tally with a mishit shot from the edge of the dee at a short corner. Joe Coburn rounded off an excellent all-round performance with the fifth goal from the edge of the dee.
Further chances came and went. Will Gilbert and Fred Delf-Rowlandson were creating width on the wings and fired in several dangerous crosses which were blocked or hacked clear.
Deeside had one or two chances, but by that stage the game had escaped their control. Keeper Gareth Teggin made a couple of handy stops but was eventually beaten for a consolation goal towards the end of the game.
This was an excellent performance by the young 2s. They were always on top in the first half and their willingness to stretch the pitch in the second half made them difficult for Deeside to handle. The passing was crisp and incisive, and the winning margin was well deserved.
Will Snaith had an excellent game in defence; strong in the tackle; intercepting and cutting out passes; and intelligently supporting the play going forward; this was by far his best game for the 2s. The wingers all played well in the second half, but Joe Faithful was the stand-out with his clever opening goal paving the way for the final score line.
Next weekend the 2s entertain Birkenhead 2s. The Wirral-based side are expected to be in the mix for promotion, so this will be a tough test for Whitchurch. Pushback will be 1:30pm at SJT.
Whitchurch Ladies 3s 1 Bowden Ladies 7s 0
After some great gameplay last week, Whitchurch were ready to go as they arrived in Bowden. With Jan Teggin as acting captain Whitchurch started extremely well with quick passes between Jasmin Williams, Kate Buckeridge and Louise Whitely, Whitchurch quickly took control of the game. Hermione Ball and Jan Teggin worked well in defence, stopping all of the Bowden attacks. Holly Gilbert and Caitlin Edwards managed to get the ball into the Bowden dee several times with but with Edina Jones working hard in the middle of the pitch further attacks were prevented.
Whitchurch immediately put pressure on the Bowden defence with Hayley Busby making some excellent runs up the pitch supported by Jones. Samantha Parkhurst made her Whitchurch debut, brilliantly covering the right wing from the oncoming attacks. Emma Stubbs worked hard in defence stopping Bowden with some excellent. After a string of interlinking passes made by Williams and Whitely, saw Whitely manage to get the ball past the goalie making the score 1-0. Whitchurch continued to work well together with Louise Cottrell ensuring Bowden didn’t get a last minute goal. The match ended with a well-deserved win for Whitchurch.
Whitchurch Ladies 1s 4 Warrington Ladies 1s 0
This week Whitchurch 1s played Warrington 1s at home. After a strong start to the game, Whitchurch were awarded a short corner. Lisa Sullivan injected a great ball to Sarah Field who took a shot and scored the teams first goal. From a 16 yard hit, Emma Harper, Anna Latham and Kezzie Hutchings worked the ball down the pitch with some lovely interlinking passes to get a pass to Hebe Dixon who smashed it bottom corner. After Warrington unexpectedly broke through, Beth Wright made a strong save before Sophie Ward then dove across the goal to make a terrific save.
Millie Edwards, Catherine Winter-Gresty and Lisa Sullivan worked together down the right hand side before passing it across the goal to Izzy Huxley who after battling with the keeper, scored the team’s 3rd goal. The teams last goal came from Ellie Windsor who passed the ball selflessly to Field who slotted it past the keeper. Lisa Sullivan sadly got hit and had to come off, but returned like a trooper for the second half.
In this half, both teams had chances but neither could convert. Whitchurch will be playing away next week against Macclesfield. Players player was once again awarded to Sullivan for her outstanding play.