Oxton Men’s 3s 5 Whitchurch Men’s 1s 0
Whitchurch travelled to Oxton on the Wirral this week on a very cold and wet October day, and suffered their biggest defeat for a long time. Without four senior players due to lockdowns in the Wrexham area, they were against a very strong Oxton team whose club had a full choice of strong players as their 1s’ game had been cancelled. It was to be a salutary lesson for the Reds as they start their campaign in division 3, having last week played a team who’d also been promoted from division 4 (and who they knew they could beat), and if this is the standard of their new division then they will have their work cut out for them.
The game started under very wet conditions, with the low temperature not helping and with little time to warm up as the previous game had finished late, and Whitchurch struggled to settle in to the game. Their passing lacked finesse, and their ball control was missing it’s normal crispness and against lesser teams they may have got away with it, but Oxton were excellent: their ball control was assured, their passing confident and their fitness levels and ability to get in behind the Reds’ defence were frustratingly good.
Chris Ruscoe, standing in for Danny Foulkes as both captain and centre back, had a very busy game and had to use all of his speed and skill to keep out the Oxton attacks. With Oxton using a high press he, Sam Conway and James Partington were always under pressure at the back, and it was a struggle to get out of defence at times. Paul “Sturge” Leigh was his usual excellent self, making saves that drew praise from the opposition players and umpires. Joel Leese and Jack Barnes played well off each other in the centre, but were always under pressure and couldn’t find space for their normal flowing game. Joe Coburn and Ben Kimberley provided width in midfield and there were genuine moments of excellence from Whitchurch with the team moving the ball around really well and being quite unlucky not to get something from it.
Up front, Tom Forster and Will Gilbert were out wide and were able – when they could be given the ball – to cause the Oxton defence some problems and Sam Budd, playing in his first game for Whitchurch, was really unlucky not to convert some good balls skills into the final scoring shots that would have given the Reds a deserved goal. Ultimately, though, there was just a difference in class between the two teams, although one that the score line doesn’t fully describe. Some of the second half was playing with only ten men, as Partington had taken a deflected aerial ball to the nose just before half time and was sat out waiting for the bleeding to stop (and thanks go to the Oxton team for their excellent first aid) – but the score was still kept down to only two goals in the second half, which is a testament to the effort everyone had put in. Even the last goal only came as a mix-up in the Red’s dee, between keeper and defender each thinking the other was going to make the clearance, so it could have been less.
It was a tough game against excellent opposition, umpired really well, in tough conditions and Whitchurch came up slightly short. It will, however, guide them to the areas they need to improve if they are to survive and flourish in division 3 this year. Next week they are at home against Deeside Ramblers 5s.
Whitchurch Men’s 2s 2 Oxton Men’s 4s 4
After a long break, and lots of hard work behind the scenes by the club’s committee, Whitchurch Men’s 2s returned to competitive hockey on Saturday. Their excellent efforts last season had been rewarded with a surprise promotion to Division 5. With a number of home players missing due to local lockdowns, self-isolation and bolstering the 1s squad, the prospect of playing an Oxton 4s team who had racked up a 12-0 win the previous weekend was somewhat daunting.
Oxton took control of the game from the pushback. They moved the ball around nicely, but Whitchurch pressed hard and prevented the visitors from making any meaningful progress up the pitch in the opening stages. The 2s themselves struggled to get into good attacking positions; passes in the final third lacked precision and Oxton defended well.
Whitchurch survived a brief flurry of short corners with some good defending, and then rather against the run of play took the lead. Good play between Doug Buckeridge and Richard Leigh saw Richard thread an incisive ball forward to Luke Beddow. He jinked into the dee and fired beyond the Oxton keeper to open the scoring.
The goal bolstered Whitchurch and seemed to rattle the visitors. Oxton still maintained good possession, but carried very little threat to the home goal, whereas Whitchurch became much more threatening at the other end of the pitch. Will Snaith, Jacob Buckeridge and Euan Morris combined well down the left with Euan unable to finish. Joe Faithfull and Ethan Gresty provided threat on the right, and Euan was unlucky when he rounded the Oxton keeper and hit the outside of the post from a tight angle.
Oxton settled and came back into the game, and an attack down the Whitchurch right led to an equaliser. The goal was all a bit messy from a Whitchurch point of view, with ricochets and bounces not quite falling for the defenders.
As half-time approached, Oxton took the lead. Whitchurch lost the ball as they looked to break forward, and too many players were caught going forward allowing Oxton to outnumber the home defenders. The Oxton forward did well to steer a bouncing cross past keeper Neil Jones.
In the second half Oxton dominated possession and territory but Whitchurch defended resiliently. Wyn Morris and Brendan Coburn were excellent at the back and the visitors found it difficult to get shots at goal. Whitchurch still looked a threat on the counter-attack, and from a foray down the left, Jacob Buckeridge and Euan Morris linked up well to pass the ball across the face of goal where Fred Delf-Rowlandson had made an excellent run to the back post but was unable to steer the ball into the goal.
Although Whitchurch had defended short corners pretty well, Oxton would have been disappointed with their own routines … until eventually they got one right. A good injection gave them the opportunity to strike from the edge of the dee and Neil Jones was unable to prevent the ball hitting the back-board. That goal was quickly followed by a fourth from a reverse stick hit from the top of the dee.
Whitchurch were determined to have the last word and pushed forward looking for a consolation goal. Euan Morris had a goal ruled out from a short corner, but their efforts were rewarded near the end of the game when an excellent passing move involving Gareth Teggin, Joe Faithfull and Luke Beddow presented Euan with the chance to sweep home Whitchurch’s second goal.
Despite the 4-2 defeat, the 2s can take a lot from this game. The team was missing a couple of key players, but they acquitted themselves well against a talented Oxton side. Although the weather conditions were appalling, with heavy rain throughout the game, this was an enjoyable and entertaining match, played in good spirits by both sides. Ultimately, it was just nice to be playing competitive hockey again!
The Men’s 2s next fixture is away to Birkenhead 2s on Saturday 10th October.
Timperley ladies 3s 6 Whitchurch ladies 1s 0
The ladies 1s travelled away to Timperley, well what a game…all wet from the off we started strong with Ellie Windsor, Steph Stanton and Cath Winter-Gresty working the ball down the right to get to Sarah Field for a short in goal, sadly missed but we kept on pushing. Timperley with some great play between them transferred the ball around the back and down the wings to their attackers and managed to get the ball into the goal. Whitchurch kept strong in defence with Kezzie Hutchings and Chloe Lloyd doing a tremendous job at the back clearing many of Timperleys chances. We held it together and had a couple of short corners before the half time whistle but sadly couldn’t convert any. Half time 1-0.
Second half heads were up and we could still hold it together and equalise, however it wasn’t to be. Timperley held their own and with quick passes between players scored again. Lisa Sullivan had a great game running around the pitch receiving and passing the ball onto Anna Latham and Holly Gillbert on the right with the support of Hayleigh Busby in defence. Again Timperley broke and the score was 3-0. The rain didn’t stop once and the ball started to slow down and Whitchurch were trying to track back to defence where Maddie Sugden was having a great game, saving many more of Timperleys shots. Whitchurch held their own in defensive short corners not letting any in, but in the last 30 seconds Timperley got the ball and with a hard hit into the bottom left corner the game ended 6-0 to Timperley. A tough game against a very skilled team.
Crewe ladies 4s 1 Whitchurch ladies 3s 6
Very reminiscent of a match in February 2020 last season, where we battled through Storm Denis, Whitchurch Ladies 3’s travelled to Crewe Vagrants with only 11 players right in the middle of Storm Alex.
After a 6 month break of no hockey, Captain Wendy Cooper had cleverly set up the team with players in familiar roles, herself at centre half, Emily Lister and Kate Buckeridge on the left, Jaz Williams and Jan Teggin on the right, Hermione Ball and Emma Stubbs at the back and Cottrell in goal. Annie Buckeridge stepped into the centre forward role and with newbies Nicky Barber on the left and Heidi Carr on the right the team was complete.
Whitchurch were first out of the blocks with numerous attacks down the left wing and several early shots on goal by Kate Buckeridge were denied by an excellent Vagrant goalkeeper. Crewe were quick to set up a counter attack against a startled Whitchurch and scored a goal within the first 10 minutes.
Whitchurch quickly reorganised and were not to be disheartened with Cooper feeding Annie Buckeridge through the midfield, who carried the ball through to score an equaliser. This seemed to lift Whitchurch with Ball feeding Williams and Carr on the right and Lister on the left who went on to score two more quick goals followed up by an excellent strike from Williams. In the last 5 minutes of the half Lister calmly passed round the keeper and used a reverse stick to score again into an empty goal giving her a hat trick and making the score line 5-1 at half time.
After a rousing team talk from Cooper and Cottrell having maintenance on a loose screw in her helmet, the 2nd half proceeded with the rain bashing down even harder. Crewe seemed much better organised and put on fresh legs with multiple subs but the Whitchurch defence were relentless with Cottrell making several timely saves, Teggin feeding Carr and Williams on the right and Stubbs as sweeper making some crucial clearances to Ball and Teggin despite nursing a back injury. Barber was everywhere covering the entire pitch and was even spotted on the right back hand corner in the second half! Eventually, Lister slotted in another early goal to make it 6-1.
Annie Buckeridge and Lister were relentless with their driving attacks through midfield throughout the 2nd half and broke free several times fed by Williams on the right and Barber on the left. Carr battled hard on the right and Kate Buckeridge on the left provided some much needed respite to the sodden team by holding the ball up on the wings and feeding the ball across the dee to Annie Buckeridge, Lister and Williams who were denied several times by some excellent goalkeeping skills from the Vagrant keeper. Several short corners were won but unfortunately Whitchurch were unable to convert the excellent strikes of Barber and Williams.
Hero status goes to Williams and Ball for playing in consecutive games and Lister was rightly nominated as players’ player!