All posts by Craig Hockenhull

Women’s Indoor Premier league hockey @ Telford 15/16 December 2018

For anyone interested in seeing top class hockey in Shropshire.

On Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th Dec 2018 and on Saturday 5th Jan & Sunday 6th Jan 2019 the Women’s Hockey Indoor Premier League will be played at Langley School, Telford.

Many of the top Women players including Olympic & European Gold and Silver medallist will be playing for their club sides. It is free! Just turn up on the day and join in the fun!

There will be some limited car parking near the school. The address is: Langley School, Duce Drive, Dawley, Telford, Shropshire, TF4 3JS.

Match Reports 08/12/18

Warrington ladies 2s 0   Whitchurch ladies 1s 6

Whitchurch finished top of Cheshire Division 3 as they entered the Christmas break!

Whitchurch ladies 1s travelled away to play Warrington 2s this Saturday. Although the weather was not on their side, Whitchurch were keen to come out strong and get a win to end this half of the season on a high. Whitchurch dominated from the start, pressurising the Warrington defence. Midfielders Catherine Winter-Gresty, Lisa Sullivan and Hebe Dixon made some excellent runs, dodging the Warrington defence into the dee but struggled to find the back of the net due to some excellent saves from the Warrington keeper.

After a sequence of shorts corners awarded to Whitchurch, they were able to open the scoring. After a rebound off the keeper, Grace Berry was able to find space between the defence and push the ball into the right corner of the goal. Just moments after their first goal, Whitchurch were back on the attack with some lightning runs down the right from Sophie Ward and Ellie Windsor, they were able to find Hebe Dixon in the middle of the pitch who used her 3D skills to get around the keeper and smash the ball into the back of the net.

After a positive half time team talk, Whitchurch were determined to increase their goal difference in the second half, which started with another string of short corners for Whitchurch, during which Sullivan found space to flick the ball past the keeper, giving them their third goal of the match. However, with some big hits from the back, Warrington made a break putting pressure on the Whitchurch defence and keeper Gwyn Thomas-Rees. Defenders Millie Edwards, Martha Teggin and Catherine Reece-Gresty made some great tackles stopping the Warrington attack in their tracks.

After this Izzy Huxley and Jessica Carruthers made some incisive one twos down the central channel of the pitch, putting increasing pressure on the Warrington keeper and finding Dixon who calmly slotted the ball into the left-hand corner of the goal. Another short corner followed this, and after a battle on the line, Grace Berry found the back of the net giving Whitchurch their fifth. Whitchurch continued to maintain their dominance for the rest of the match and using great communication and focused passing they held most of the possession. In the final five minutes of the game, after some lovely passing down the middle of the pitch from Lisa Sullivan and Catherine Winter-Gresty, Berry was able to dribble into the dee and fire Whitchurch’s final goal past the keeper, getting her a hat trick.

Lymm Men’s 2s 3   Whitchurch Men’s 1s 2

Whitchurch travelled away to Lymm this week to start the return fixtures for the season and played against a well-drilled and skilful Lymm team who had been excellent opponents in the opening game of the year. Whitchurch started brightly and put together some good hockey in the first half, with good movement and passing. Lymm, in turn, were strong down their wings and Paul “Sturge” Leigh was called on in goal a number of times when the Lymm attackers had slipped their markers.

As play went on, the heavens opened, and the pitch – still recovering from a soaking during the previous game that day – started to pool with water and control and stability started to suffer slightly. It was during this that a Lymm tackle sent the ball flying up directly into Danny Foulkes’ head causing a significant injury which meant he could take no further part in the game. Whitchurch had taken a substitute for the game, which was now critical, and had to restructure the defence with Tom Forster now pairing with James Partington in the centre, and Fred Egerton picking up at right back with Airan Jones continuing to develop well at left back.

Thankfully during this reorganisation the forwards got more of the ball, and a good run into the dee and a number of passes left Craig Hockenhull able to flick the ball into the centre of the netting for the Reds’ first. The game then settled as Alex Fry, Ben Kimberley and Jack Barnes took control of the centre of the field, distributing the ball well to Sam Conway and Hockenhull out wide, and Nick Cooper was a constant threat in the Lymm dee. Whitchurch went into half-time with a deserved but slim lead, and the half-time talk was just about having more of the same good work.

The second half started well, and the highlight saw Barnes run down the left-hand side of the pitch from near the halfway line, past most of the Lymm team and then drive in along the baseline until he could get the ball past the keeper on the near post for the Reds’ second. It was then that two things happened to change the match for Whitchurch: the Lymm formation changed, and those changes weren’t picked up well at all; and Whitchurch allowed themselves to get frustrated again by perceived inconsistencies in the umpiring.

Arguing with officials helps no team, so it was frustrating for Whitchurch letting their concentration drop, especially as Lymm took full advantage. Two quick goals came, as they broke their markers and arrived in the Whitchurch dee in numbers, and were able to work the overload despite some incredible saves by Sturge. The defending and marking from static play was good – Lymm would often have to go back from free hits or sideline balls – but the marking in fluid play was not good enough, and it was some excellent work by Lymm to break free in the last two minutes and get a shot in which Partington partially blocked, but only into the path of the striker who put it over Sturge for the third and decisive goal.

Whitchurch stay in the upper half of the table, but it continues to be a very tightly contested league with only a few points separating a number of teams. They will look to build on the good progress seen at times throughout the games so far to make the 2019 half of the season a successful one.

Whitchurch Men’s 2s 4 Runcorn Men’s 3s 0

Whitchurch Men’s 2s welcomed Runcorn 3s to SJT on Saturday afternoon with the Reds looking to build on a really good performance last time out and try to get their first points of the season before the Christmas break. In the reverse fixture, earlier this season, the 2s had played really well but ended up on the wrong side of a tight score line.

The Reds started brightly and immediately went on the front foot. The midfield three of Richard Leigh, Paul Humphries and Joe Coburn got control in the middle of the pitch, breaking up play and neatly passing their way forward, using Ethan Gresty and Joe Faithfull to provide width on the flanks.

Runcorn were defending deep in their own half and relying on big hits down field to create their own attacking moments. But Iain Bones and Doug Buckeridge in the centre of defence were picking up everything and moving the ball calmly into midfield where the Whitchurch restarted their own attacks. Runcorn couldn’t make any progress in wide areas either, with Wyn Morris and Brendan Coburn constantly nicking the ball away from their opponents and driving forward into the visitors’ half.

Whitchurch started to create chances and win short corners, and midway through the half a short corner routine didn’t quite go to plan, but the team improvised brilliantly and after forcing a couple of saves from the Runcorn keeper, the ball was fired across goal and Richard Leigh swept home his first ever goal to open the scoring for Whitchurch.

The Reds continued to drive forward with control and invention, and more chances came and went. Ethan Gresty and Jacob Buckeridge both had chances to shoot at goal, but were unable to make the keeper work. Joe Coburn, Joe Faithfull and Euan Morris all forced the keeper to make saves, but Whitchurch were unable to increase their lead.

Although the Whitchurch goal was relatively untroubled for most of the half, the Reds lost a little control in midfield as subs rotated on, and Runcorn did get one good chance which was brilliantly saved by keeper Gareth Teggin.

The early stages of the second half were much more even. A tactical change from the visitors saw them looking to play more through midfield rather than bypass the middle of the pitch and the rotation of Whitchurch substitutes in midfield disrupted the Reds’ own momentum. The Whitchurch defence continued to restrict the away side, although Teggin did produce another really good save to preserve the home side’s lead.

As the half wore on, the Runcorn players became frustrated and as tempers frayed, at perceived injustices, the umpires started to show cards to the visiting players. This coincided with Whitchurch getting a grip of midfield and the home side proceeded to ruthlessly exploit their numerical advantage.

First Paul Humphries brilliantly drove into the dee and squared for Euan Morris to flick high into the net to double Whitchurch’s lead. This was quickly followed by another sharp piece of play from a long corner where Richard Leigh fed the ball to Euan in the dee and he again flicked the ball past the visiting keeper.

Runcorn did try to press for a goal of their own, but as Whitchurch regained possession their sharp passing through the middle of the pitch brought them more and more chances. Luke Beddow was finding great space on the right and his crosses into the dee caused the visitors all sorts of problems. Despite missed chances, good blocks and smart saves, Whitchurch were not to be denied and Euan Morris duly completed his hat trick when he slammed the ball home after a melee in the Runcorn dee.

As Runcorn returned to full strength they pushed forward looking for a late consolation goal. Phil Tranter and Will Snaith bolstered the Whitchurch midfield and helped the home side see out the game with a clean sheet.

In the end, the 4-0 win was thoroughly deserved. Whitchurch played some excellent hockey, which combined with their high work rate was too much for an experienced Runcorn side. Paul Humphries added some experience to the midfield and Joe Coburn continued to show his huge potential with his ability to win the ball and instigate attacks with his ball carrying or passing.

The defence, supported by the midfield, were again excellent, but Gareth Teggin continues to improve in goal. Always alert and always communicating with the defenders, he made two good, important saves with the score at 1-0. At his current rate of improvement, injured captain and regular keeper Neil Jones might struggle to get his place back!

And a final mention to Richard “Tricky Dicky” Leigh, who thoroughly deserved his first ever goal at ripe old age of ….

The Men’s 2s now have a long Christmas break until they play next, away to Bebington, on 19th January.

Match Reports 02/12/18

Whitchurch Men’s 2s 0 Northrop Hall Men’s 3s 0

Whitchurch Men’s 2s welcomed high-flying Northrop Hall 3s to SJT on Saturday afternoon, looking to build on their good performance from the previous weekend. Although Craig Hockenhull and Joe Coburn were both needed for the 1s, and Martin Beecher was out with injury, the 2s were able to welcome back Iain Bones and Mark Sugden into the heart of the defence.

The opening exchanges were fairly even. Northrop Hall enjoyed more possession and territory, but were unable to create any real goal-scoring opportunities. In turn, Whitchurch were able to counter when they won possession, but despite neat passing up to the dee, they were unable to create any real chances to shoot at goal.

As the half progressed, the Welsh side forced a succession of short corners which were well defended by Bones, Sugden, Wyn Morris and Brendan Coburn, with keeper Gareth Teggin making a number of good stops which were then well cleared by the defenders.

The Whitchurch midfield of Doug Buckeridge and Richard Leigh worked really hard to help out the defenders and also advance the team up the pitch. The younger players were also putting in a lot of effort to influence both ends of the pitch. Ethan Gresty and Will Snaith were carrying the ball purposely through the middle of the pitch and Joe Faithfull, James Page and Jacob Buckeridge we’re providing good options in the wide areas.

As defenders began to tire late in the half, chances started to appear. Gareth Teggin made a couple of excellent saves to keep the Welsh side out, and Joe Faithfull forced the Northrop keeper into a good save at the other end of the pitch. Euan Morris also had the keeper sprawling across the floor in a desperate attempt to get the ball away from the goal. Whitchurch also forced a few short corners which lead to Northrop hacking down Iain Bones as he was about to blast the ball goal ward.

With the game scoreless at halftime, Whitchurch were looking for more of the same in the second half. But early in the second half Whitchurch were caught out by a quick counterattack and, although they had plenty of players back, a collection of missed tackles and failed blocks allowed the ball to be pushed across the face of goal and bundled home for Northrop to open the scoring.

The second half then continued in the same pattern as the first period. Northrop enjoyed more territory and possession than the home side, but the continued hard work of the defence and midfield severely restricted the Northrop threat to the Whitchurch goal. The away team won a few short corners but these were well defended by Teggin, Bones, Sugden, Coburn and Morris.

Whitchurch continued to threaten when they had the ball and made good progress up to the Northrop dee, but struggled to make the away keeper work. Euan Morris worked some good positions but was well marshalled by the defenders and was unable to get clean shots away.

Whitchurch’s best effort was probably a strong flick from the edge of the dee by Ethan Gresty, which was kicked away by the Northrop keeper.

With the home side unable to get on the scoreboard, Northrop ran out 1-0 winners. But this was a strong showing from Whitchurch. With Doug Buckeridge and Richard Leigh adding some strong running and good passing in midfield, and the young lads working incredibly hard to help at both ends of the pitch, Whitchurch proved to be a tough nut for Northrop to crack. The Welsh side were strong and capable, but the Reds never made easy for them. The young players in the side promise an exciting future for the Men’s teams … although that may not be this season or even next.

However, if the young players continue to apply themselves in the way they did in this game, surely the first points of the season can’t be far away.

Next weekend the 2s entertain Runcorn 2s.

Whitchurch ladies 3’s 2  Bebington ladies 2’s 2

The ladies 3rd team were very grateful to start this fast paced game with 3 subsitutes as Bebington 2’s, who were currently lying 2nd in the table, attacked very powerfully from the outset and had several early attacks on the Whitchurch dee.

Whitchurch who were desperate to remain undefeated in their 4th game on the run, responded well with counter attacks led by Fran Ball, Kate Buckeridge, Beth Wright and Eliza Brown who played on the wings, creating numerous options for shots into the dee to Sue Read. Catlin Shaw and Annie Buckeridge playing as inners, drove forward demonstarting some good stick skills, backed up the attack and also tirelessly ran back to help the defence.

Sue Read, who played superbly throughout the game in the position of center forward, managed to slot in the first goal within the first 10 minutes. This spurred on Bebington to counter attack feriously and win a few short corners despite a strong midfield consisting of Emily Lister, Emma Harper and Wendy Cooper who tackled hard to prevent the onslaught. Unfortunately, Bebington scored twice giving a 2-1 scoreline at half time.

Determined not to be beaten, Whitchurch started the 2nd half intent on being first to the ball. Our defence was phenominal with Gayle Ladd, Mel Reid and Jan Teggin keeping control of the ball and playing out to our waiting halves who worked tirelessly driving the ball forward with great enthusiasm.

Our last line of defence, goal keeper Louise Cottrell, who was a little warmer than last week and made some magnificant saves, the tide started to turn with some hard hitting from Beth Wright and tackles from Caitlin Shaw on the right hand side whilst Emily, Emma and Kate linked up well on the left. Annie Buckeridge made a notable reverse stick pass into the dee to Sue Read who narrowly missed the goal. The next attack saw Sue slot her second goal into the goal leveling up the scores to 2-2. The last few minutes saw Whitchurch continue their attack but unfortunately were unable to convert a third goal for a win.

Emily Lister recieved ‘player of the match’ thanks to her, relentless running, outstanding passes and marking.

Whitchurch Mens 1s 2 – Chester Mens 5s 3

Whitchurch were playing away against Chester at the excellent new pitch at Abbey Gate College this week, and were hopeful of another good win against a team at the lower end of the league, but it wasn’t to be. Chester were able to field a team that was much stronger than their results this season would suggest, and they immediately put Whitchurch under pressure, making good runs down both wings, and needing Paul “Sturge” Leigh to make important saves in goal. The Reds were able to put together their own good passages of play, with Craig Hockenhull working well with Alex Fry and Sam Conway in the middle of the field. Nick Cooper and Ben Kimberley worked the high attacks well, and Tom Forster and Fred Egerton provided strength out on the wings, but in a frustrating first half it was only final touches that kept the Reds off the scoresheet.

At the other end, Dale Seymour and James Partington held the centre of the defence, with Joe Coburn back up in the 1s providing strength on the right and Airan Jones continuing to develop well on the left. Marking was generally good, and Seymour provided the calmness and skill in the dee to ensure any incursions were well dealt with, but eventually the Chester pressure caused an overload in numbers, and Sturge’s initial sliding save left him out of position, and the shot on goal clipped the left ankle of Partington as he ran across the goal. Despite Jones also being back to cover, a stroke was awarded for blocking the goal-bound shot, and the Chester striker put it away well to the right of the keeper to let them go into half-time one up.

The second half was another tough affair, but Whitchurch got themselves on the scoresheet with a penalty stroke of their own, which Hockenhull stepped up for and put away with ease. This allowed the Reds to relax a little and they started to play better – more passing, better runs, end-to-end movement, aerials making the distance, and good communication. It was a shame, then, that frustrations started to creep in to the game. A few umpiring decisions seemed to go against Whitchurch (in their opinion) or weren’t spotted, and it caused tempers to flare and earned both teams green cards, but Chester got their heads sorted quicker and won a short corner which they put away well. Another goal followed as Chester were able to break past the Reds’ defence and the shot on goal bounced over Sturge’s pads for their third.

The final goal of the game was a goalmouth scramble in the Chester dee with a number of blocks, challenges, flicks, stops and keepers pads all involved until Cooper got the final touch, but despite a last minute short corner and large amounts of pressure, Chester held on for the win. Whitchurch drop to fourth on goal difference, with only two points covering the teams in second to fifth in the league.

They are away at Lymm next week for the first of the return matches of the season.

Timperley ladies 4s 2 Whitchurch ladies 1s 1

Whitchurch ladies 1s travelled away to play Timperley 4s this Saturday with a young team of several 2s players. Timperley played very strong from the whistle, putting plenty of pressure on the Whitchurch defence Cath Reece-Gresty and Chloe Lloyd. Having a couple of short corners awarded they managed to score. Whitchurch came back with some forceful play from Lisa Sullivan and Millie Edwards. A short corner was taken for whitchurch and Ellie Windsor got a touch on the ball and slipped it through the keeper’s legs. There was alot of running for both teams up until half time as the ball got passed from one end to the other with no more goals scored.

Whitchurch started the second half as the first, passing the ball well and having several shots on goal but Timperley were determined not to let anyone score. As Whitchurch started to tire, Timperley won a short and managed to score in the last 5 minutes. All Whitchurch could do was defend until the last whistle. Final score was 2-1, an unfortunate loss for Whitchurch. Players player went to Sophie ward.

Ladies play away at Warrington next week.