All posts by Craig Hockenhull

Match reports 14/03/20

Whitchurch Men’s 2s 7 Runcorn Men’s 3s 2

After last week’s big win, which propelled the Men’s 2s into third place in the league table, the home side were looking to consolidate that position in their final game of the season against bottom-of-the-table Runcorn. Knowing that they needed to win the game but also match Oxton’s margin of victory, the Reds set out looking for another high score.

However, Runcorn were in no mood to roll over for Whitchurch. Although the home side started the game well, controlling possession and making progress up the pitch, their opponents were stoic with their defending and the Reds found it difficult to fashion any chances in front of the Runcorn goal.

The away side enjoyed their own spells of possession but struggled to make much headway past the hard-working midfield of Richard Leigh, David Brunyard, Joe Coburn and Luke Beddow. And on the few occasions that Runcorn did get close to the edge of the Whitchurch dee, Doug Buckeridge, Will Snaith, Gareth Teggin and Wyn Morris were quick to sweep up and clear the danger.

It took Whitchurch until midway through the half to create some real danger in front of the Runcorn goal, but it took a penalty flick from Euan Morris to break the deadlock. A short corner routine was well-worked by the home side and Euan’s initial shot was adjudged to be blocked on the line by a Runcorn foot.

Whitchurch soon doubled their lead as Euan struck again from another short corner routine. But Runcorn tried to hit back. A flurry of short corners was well defended by the Reds and keeper Neil Jones made an excellent one-on-one save. But Runcorn chances were limited, whilst the home side were creating more chances at the other end. Joe Faithfull, Euan Morris and Luke Beddow all forced the Runcorn keeper to make some good saves, but Joe Coburn fired home from the edge of the dee to give Whitchurch a 3-0 lead at half-time.

The home side were looking to add more goals in the second half, but it was Runcorn who re-started the game better. Some slack play in midfield and some weak defending allowed the away side to pull a goal back. Runcorn then sensed a chance to get right back in the game and forced Whitchurch to defend on the edge of their own dee. Neil Jones was forced to make several handy saves as Whitchurch lost control of the game.

At times this season the Men’s 2s have played some stunning hockey and just as they seemed to be under the cosh, they produced a stunning passing move from their own half, as Richard Leigh and Joe Coburn cut Runcorn to ribbons and fed Luke Beddow in the dee, who fired home to make the score 4-1.

The goal settled Whitchurch and they started to play much better hockey. As the passing became faster and neater, and the pressing when out of possession became more aggressive, the Reds started creating a plethora of chances. Jake Buckeridge was inches away from a cross at the back post; Fred Delf-Rowlandson, Joe Faithfull, Alex Leigh and Owen Pearce were causing Runcorn all sorts of problems on the flanks; Ethan Gresty was driving from midfield; and Luke Beddow and Euan Morris were getting the chances in the dee and brought saves from the Runcorn keeper.

Eventually a move down the right saw Euan Morris poke in from close range, after a melee in the goalmouth, to further increase the Whitchurch lead. But Runcorn responded, although once again, Whitchurch contributed to their own undoing as the ceded possession in midfield and then made a hash of defending the ensuing counterattack.

But this Whitchurch team is full of goals and Euan Morris is full of goals. Another smart attack saw Euan free on the left of the dee and he fired home on the reverse for his fourth goal of the game. This was followed by a stunning piece of play, as Joe Coburn picked up the ball in midfield and lofted a pass over the Runcorn defence for Euan to run through on goal, round the keeper and fire into the unguarded goal to round off the scoring and give Whitchurch a 7-2 win.

This wasn’t Whitchurch’s best performance of the season but in patches their play was simply outstanding. The passing move for the fourth goal was a joy to behold and Joe’s pass for the final goal was sublime. In parts the home side were lazy out of possession, but would then respond with periods of incessant, aggressive pressing, which Runcorn found difficult to deal with.

With Oxton losing 3-2 at Golborne, the win means Whitchurch have finished the season in third place. An incredible achievement and thoroughly deserved reward for a squad containing predominantly players under 16 years of age, supplemented by half-a-dozen dads that have all come through the club’s Back-to-Hockey scheme. The team have played some stunning hockey over the course of the season and have faced up to the challenges they have faced with bravery and skill. Whether third place will be enough for promotion will be determined later, but all the players who have represented the 2s this season should be proud of their efforts and their teammates.

Roll on next season!

Wilmslow ladies 3s 1 Whitchurch ladies 1s 5

Whitchurch ladies 1s travelled away to play Wilmslow, a mid-table team this Saturday and after last week’s loss came back strong and composed.

 

Wilmslow’s defence was strong and it took about ten minutes for Whitchurch to score their first by Sarah Field. Wilmslow attacked back hard putting pressure on defence Chloe Lloyd and Kezzie Hutchings, halves Anna Latham and Molly Fry used the width to clear the ball up to Ellie Windsor who fired into the dee for Izzy Huxley to deflect into the net. Despite being two up Wilmslow fought back and scored from open play before the break.

 

After a quick break Whitchurch definitely had the better half, picking up the tempo, play was fast and they passed the ball around Wilmslow, some great triangular moves from midfield Hebe Dixon, captain Catherine Winter-Gresty and Millie Edwards setup up an opportunity for to Field to flick past the keeper.

Wilmslow kept fighting all the way having some shots which keeper Maddy Sugden cleared away with help from Martha Teggin. The 4th goal made its way up the pitch with Field and Edwards passing between each other finishing with Edwards slotting onto the backboard.

 

More attempts on goal came from Jess Kimberley, Dixon and Winter-Gresty but the final goal was shot in from Sarah Field to end the game with a great 5-1 result.

Millie Edwards earned players player and their final game of the season next week is against Knutsford at home.

 

Sale Men’s 2s 1 Whitchurch Men’s 1s 4

Whitchurch confirmed their promotion as champions of division 4 south this week with a confident away win over a strong Sale team who were hoping to grab third place on the final day of the season. Led by captain Danny Foulkes, Whitchurch were looking just to play some decent hockey and enjoy it, with promotion already assured, and they set about business well. After a busy first few minutes as both teams looked for a quick goal, the game settled into some assured skill and movement from both teams. Paul “Sturge” Leigh had another strong game at the back, coming out early and making his usual diving saves. The back three, with James Partington and Chris Ruscoe flanking Foulkes, were able to move the ball across at the back with confidence, and soaked up the pressure from the Sale attack. Sale were unlucky not to get a couple of goals, with some good shots going just wide, or last touch deflections only just missing.

In the midfield, Sam Conway, Marcus Conway and Jack Barnes provided the width and options, and Joel Leese, Ben Kimberley, Tom Forster and Rob Chappell rotated well to control the middle of the pitch, dribbling round the Sale players before distributing the ball well to the wings. First touches were more assured than in last week’s game, and passes made it to their targets with decent regularity, and the pressure continued to build before Jon Chappell’s strong shot at goal was blocked by the goalkeeper, but the ball just fell at the keeper’s feet and Nick Cooper was on hand to crack it in.

With the Sale team looking for an equaliser, the pressure was on, but the Reds marked well and were able to regain control and got a second before the break. A quick drive into the dee end in a cross which was swept in on the reverse by Will Gilbert, continuing his impressive scoring record having only just stepped up to the first team.

The second half was more of the same, with the game being finely balanced and Sale unlucky to nick a goal on a couple of occasions. They had more bad luck when Ruscoe’s run down the right wing and into the dee ended in disaster as the cross was knocked in to the goal by a defender attempting to clear it. They did regroup, though, and threw players forward and caused an overload in the Whitchurch dee. The initial shot was saved by Sturge, but the rebound was taken around the diving keeper and put away well for Sale’s first.

Sale were reenergised, and started to put together more attacks, but their right wingers found a roadblock in Partington who had a solid game at left back, and tackled and blocked everything that came his way. The Whitchurch right wing had much more success and Barnes was able to get the ball to Cooper whose initial shot from a very tight angle was blocked, but Jon Chappell was ready for the rebound and finished it off nicely.

The final whistle came, and with it another decent win for a decent Whitchurch team. As the champagne sprayed, the Reds knew they’d had a good season where teamwork had made all the difference. Partington picked up player of the match for some good work in defence, and the team picked up promotion to division 3 south having won by twelve points with Neston having lost to Northop Hall. With several strong young players coming through, the future is looking very good for Whitchurch Hockey Club.

Triton ladies 3s 0 Whitchurch ladies 3s 1

The penultimate game started at pace which proved tricky in the heat of our first sunny morning of Spring in Alsager. Whitchurch had most of the early possession but Triton defended brilliantly especially the keeper who denied countless shots from centre forward Sue Read. In attack, Caitlin Edwards and Jaz Williams worked well on the right backed up by Jan Teggin at left half and Louise Whitley and Kate Buckeridge on the left.

Keeper Louise Cottrell was magnificent with her well timed leaves and kick outs to the waiting halves, Poppy Huxley, Emma Stubbs and Teggin. Meg Brunyard gave some confidence to midfield spraying some excellent cross pitch passes to Williams on the right who drove the ball expertly up the pitch to Edwards. Hermonie Ball was excellent on the left of defence and was seen pushing high up the pitch to assist Huxley and Buckeridge then tracking back when required.

Wendy Cooper decided to play tennis in front of goal and saved a chest high strike from Triton to keep the score 0-0 at half time.

The 2nd half started much the same as the first with Whitchurch leading most of the attack but being superbly blocked by the excellent Triton defence whose hard hitting caught Whitchurch on the counter putting the excellent tackling skills of Teggin, Stubbs, Cooper and Ball to the test. Several short corners were won by Whitchurch and superb strikes from Williams were saved by Triton’s keeper.

With only one sub, Whitchurch rotated quickly to allow our experienced players to rest in particular, Buckeridge who ended up on the right hand side of the pitch in defence to allow Whitchurch to recover after another yet another counter attack by Triton. Huxley was not to be deterred on the left by the bigger and stronger Triton players and next week will be kitted up in full body armour in order to retrieve the ball after her excellent winning tackles!

In the last 10 minutes, Teggin had to play left wing to cover an asthmatic Buckeridge and found herself in the attacking dee with Read trying yet another shot on goal which again was saved by the keeper. Another attack by Stubbs, Whitely, Williams and Edwards shortly afterwards was finally rewarded with a goal for Read in the dying minutes of the game for a 1-0 victory.

Tritons’ keeper was nominated players player by Whitchurch which demonstrated the dominance of Whitchurch’s attack and Jazz Williams nominated by the Triton players for her fantastic drives forward and stick skills. Last game of the season is home to Sandbach 2’s.

Coronavirus Update

To all players, volunteers and parents…
We want to let you know that all hockey training and matches are going ahead as normal at the current time, but we are keen to follow and support the principle guidelines outlined in yesterday’s government advice on minimising and delaying the spread of the virus.  These are:
– players or volunteers who have been experiencing any viral or flu-like symptoms should not participate in any hockey activities (i.e. they should be self-isolating anyway)
– good hygiene practices should be observed by everyone, including regular hand-washing, avoiding touching one’s face, minimising physical contact with other people and frequently used surfaces, etc.
It is the responsibility of individuals and parents (where junior players are concerned) to enforce (in the first case) and encourage (in the second) these guidelines are followed – not just for hockey, but in general.
For our part, we will try to ensure we don’t encourage any activities during hockey that go against these, i.e. shaking hands, using each other’s hockey sticks, regularly handling the same equipment, etc.
By following the official guidelines and applying common sense, we will all be doing our bit to help slow down the spread of coronavirus.  If you have any specific questions or concerns, please get in touch.
Regards
Whitchurch HC Committee

Match Reports 07/03/20 & 08/03/20

Macclesfield Ladies 4s 3 Whitchurch Ladies 2s 3

Whitchurch went on to the pitch looking for goals this week. Despite several usual players missing Whitchurch were ready and enthusiastic. Quickly, Whitchurch pushed forward with inners Hayleigh Busby and Ellie Pearson driving the ball up the pitch with determination to find Jess Kimberly at centre forward. However, Macclesfield were also working hard and made a break up the pitch and scored the first goal of the match. Whitchurch fought back and continued to make strong attacks. Martha Teggin and Edina Jones pushed the ball up the pitch and set up numerous opportunities for Whitchurch attacks and Caitlin Edwards fought hard and made numerous passes into the dee.  Jasmin Williams, who was making her ladies 2s debut, played brilliantly in centre half and a string of interlinking passes between Williams and Busby allowed Whitchurch to advance into the Macclesfield dee and gain a short corner. Busby injected to Kimberly who returned it to Busby who effortlessly slotted the ball past the keeper. Whitchurch maintained possession of the ball but Macclesfield managed to get another goal before the end of the first half leaving the score 2-1 at half time.

Whitchurch were ready to go after Captain Emma’s team talk and immediately made their way up the pitch. Phoebe Jones, who had stepped in as goal keeper at last minute, stopped several Macclesfield shots on goal but the home team were able to get another goal making the score 3-1. Holly Gilbert ran the ball down the wing passing into Kimberly, but Macclesfield had a strong keeper and still Whitchurch couldn’t get another goal. Catherine Reece-Gresty battled hard and her and Emma Clarke ensured no more Macclesfield attacks came into the Whitchurch dee. A strong hit from Reece-Gresty to Kimberly allowed Kimberly to drive round the Macclesfield defenders and score a well-deserved goal. A string of lovely passes between Williams, Jones and Tolhurst allowed Tolhurst to charge into the dee and with an impressive strike secured Whitchurch a draw with two minutes to spare.

Player of the match was awarded to Holly Gilbert. Next week the ladies 2s are Brooklands at home.

Whitchurch ladies 1s 1 Bowden ladies 4s 3

Whitchurch ladies 1s played top team Bowden this Saturday at home and they were worked hard from the whistle. Bowden attacked through the middle of the pitch pulling Whitchurch in. Midfield players Millie Edwards, Hebe Dixon and captain Catherine Winter-Gresty played well together getting the ball out and up to forwards Ellie Windsor and Izzy Huxley.

Sarah Field managed to get a touch on an incoming ball to open the scoring. Bowden needed this win to stay top and secure promotion and they certainly played for it.

It was a tiring game as the ball was passed from one end to the other and three subs were very welcome. Defence Emma Harper and Chloe Lloyd had their work cut out as Bowden played around and scored to equalise. Just before half time Bowden scored again despite amazing efforts from keeper Maddy Sugden.

After half time Whitchurch played the ball around Bowden players but they were not for letting any more goals in, saving shots from Winter-Gresty, Kezzie Hutching and Dixon.

Whitchurch were beginning to tire again, Molly Fry and Sophie ward worked together on the right stopping Bowden attacking there.

Anna Latham made some strong efforts supported by Jessica Carruthers but Bowdon were after another and succeeded in the last 5 minutes.

Amazing efforts from Whitchurch but they resolute defending from Bowden meant they couldn’t capitalise on their chances. Sophie Ward received players player.

They play away at Wilmslow next week.

Whitchurch Ladies 3’s 0  Cheshire Blues 16

After losing players through illness the Whitchurch 11 stepped out onto the pitch for one of their hardest games of the season against run away league leaders who have scored 200+ goals so far this season.  Whitchurch won first push back and started the game with a strong attack. Libby Fox and Annie Buckeridge and Emma Stubbs worked the ball up the left to the opponents dee but their defence proved too strong and the ball was returned down the pitch for Whitchurch to defend. Midfielders Jan Teggin, Annie Leigh and Wendy Cooper worked hard moving the ball away from the Whitchurch defence and keeper up the wing to Poppy Huxley and Nina Hodges who made some excellent tackles and runs up to the dee but were unable to find the goal. During the first half the visitors managed to get the ball past Whitchurch eight times leaving Whitchurch 8-0 down at half time.

After a half time breather and talk, Whitchurch were re-inspired and re-energised. They started the second half with a strong attack and made some positive runs to the goal but again the Blues defence were too strong and the play changed direction with attacks from the Blues towards the Whitchurch defence of Mel Reid and Hermione Ball.  Whitchurch managed to turn the play around on many occasions during the match but Cheshire Blues always managed to prevent the Whitchurch attack from reaching the goal. After a series of short corners Cheshire Blues managed to continue their scoring leaving the final score with a win to the visitors of 16-0.

Every Whitchurch player gave 100% for the entire match and kept fighting and attacking to the final whistle. Despite the loss, it was a challenging game but Whitchurch came away exhausted and smiling.

Players player was awarded to a well-deserved Poppy Huxley.

Next week Whitchurch ladies 3‘s travel away to play Triton in the penultimate match of the season.

Whitchurch Men’s 1s 4 Chester Men’s 5s 2

Off the back of a successful run of form, and with only a draw required from the game to ensure finishing top of the league, Whitchurch went into Saturday’s game against Chester full of confidence. With captain Danny Foulkes still away, Dale Seymour stepped up again to lead the team and chase down the final point required.

With Foulkes and Alex Fry away this week, Sam Conway dropped to left back, with James Partington covering the centre and Chris Ruscoe continuing to shine at right back. Seymour’s game plan was to use the back well like last week, to move the ball around and keep possession without risky passes or trying to run through the opposition, and it worked well; Whitchurch had decent amounts of time on the ball and weren’t afraid to go backwards before going forwards again. In return, Chester had a number of strong, experienced players mixing with some talented younger ones, and were able to play some really good hockey. They went with the approach of leaving one player high up the pitch, which always gave them options on the break, and Paul “Sturge” Leigh made his usual selection of saves and blocks to keep the scoreboard quiet.

It was Chester who went ahead first, though, as they broke down the right wing and into the dee, and the striker’s shot wasn’t the cleanest, but the resulting bobble took it over Sturge’s stick. With Seymour’s encouragement, the Reds knew they would get their chances and didn’t let their heads drop. Taking more time on the ball, they started to control it a little better, and used that to increase the pressure on the Chester defence. This ended up with a short corner, which fell to Nick Cooper to add yet another to his list for the season with a decent smash into the net from the resulting melee.

Whitchurch doubled their lead as Will Gilbert picked up his second goal in two games for the 1s, collecting a ball from Tom Forster before surprising the Chester keeper with the deftness of touch and control to put it under the goalkeeper’s moving foot. Chester then applied more pressure themselves, winning a short corner which was fortuitously blocked on the line by Partington. Whitchurch went back up the other end of the pitch with Ruscoe driving hard down the right wing and into the dee before firing at goal. The keeper managed to stop the initial shot but the ball fell at his feet, and Ruscoe – who had continued his run – was the first to respond and reversed it into the goal before anyone else appeared to react.

The half-time talk focused on keeping the ball and not giving it away too easily, and this worked well as Whitchurch piled the pressure on, moving the ball around well at the back as well as up front, with Craig Hockenhull and Jack Barnes working the right wing to cause problems, and Rob Chappell and Joe Leese controlling the middle of the pitch. Whitchurch’s efforts won a short corner, and the initial shot was blocked on the line before Ben Kimberley collected the ball at the edge of the dee and unleashed a rocket into the top of the net.

The game then got more tense as both sides looked to take control, with green and yellow cards being shown as tempers flared, and Chester took the opportunity to put more players forward. Ruscoe was again crucial in defence with another interception that diverted the ball inches to the left of the post, but as Whitchurch struggled to clear, Chester got a short corner. The initial one was interrupted by the umpire just as it was finally taken, for taking too long, and the retake was taken so quickly the Reds weren’t quite set up and Sturge’s initial block of the shot went back out and was taken well in the air and drilled past the keeper for Chester’s second.

With the final whistle, Whitchurch confirmed their place at the top of the table and, with Neston losing at Sale, were 9 points clear with one game left. Will Gilbert deservedly won player of the match for another outstanding performance, and shows the future for Whitchurch – in division 3 next season – is looking good.

Whitchurch Men’s 2s 11 – 1 Winnington Park 4s

The Men’s 2s welcomed Winnington Park to SJT for their re-arranged match on Sunday morning. Results the previous day and with Winnington only being able to field nine players, there was an opportunity for the Reds to jump up to third in the table with a big win.

The early stages of the game were a bit disappointing for the home side. A combination of Whitchurch’s over-eagerness and Winnington’s experience and ball retention skills meant the Reds struggled to make any real impact going forward, although Winnington themselves were unable to make much progress up the pitch due to the excellent covering at the back by Pip Jones, Gareth Teggin and Wyn Morris. When Whitchurch did have the ball, they constantly ran themselves into trouble or played poor passes to give the ball away.

Despite not playing well, Whitchurch did open the scoring through Euan Morris but, out of the blue, Winnington responded immediately by forcing several short corners and equalising with a flick past keeper Neil Jones.

The equalising goal stunned Whitchurch out of their complacency and the team started to press with more aggression and string together some sharper and more incisive passes. The home team restored their lead as Euan Morris fired home a well worked short corner and as the team became more confident in their own game, the chances started to flow.

With Doug Buckeridge stepping forward from defence to join Richard Leigh in midfield, Winnington were struggling to get out of their own half. Alex Leigh and Will Snaith were pushing high on the flanks to support the wingers and prevent Winnington making any progress up the pitch. Joe Faithfull and Ethan Gresty were a constant threat on the right and Jacob Buckeridge and Owen Pearce were driving forward at every opportunity on the left.

Joe Coburn added a fantastic third goal when he smashed a shot from the edge of the dee into the top corner; Euan Morris finished off his hat-trick; and Will Snaith and Owen Pearce combined well down the left, with Owen scoring the goal at the second attempt. But the best goal of the half was finished off by Luke Beddow as a sweeping move through the middle of the pitch, involving four players, had Winnington chasing shadows.

Although 6-1 up at half-time, the Whitchurch players were reminded about complacency and the need to exploit their numerical advantage, but, as with the start of the first half, the team were sluggish out of the blocks and struggled to move the ball quickly or accurately enough to make any inroads into a disciplined Winnington defence.

The away side were struggling to fully clear their lines and the ball kept coming back at them and as Whitchurch grew into the half their passing became more accurate and more incisive and chances started to come. With the Winnington players working incredibly hard, legs started to tire, and the Reds exploited their numerical advantage ruthlessly.

Euan Morris added another goal to his tally, as did Joe Coburn, and Will Snaith scored his first senior goal with a lovely strike from the edge of the dee. Jacob Buckeridge sneaked the ball past the Winnington keeper on the reverse and Luke Beddow added the final goal of the game. In amongst the avalanche of goals, Airan Jones, Joe Coburn and Alex Leigh were all a little unfortunate to have goals ruled out.

The 11-1 win was thoroughly deserved, with the home side harshly exploiting Winnington’s lack of players. Euan Morris continued his amazing goal scoring run and Joe Coburn got his rewards for an amazing season and scored one of the goals of the campaign. Apart from one aberration, the defence was faultless and keeper Neil Jones was largely unemployed during this game. The whole team, once again, demonstrated some wonderful hockey as they attacked in numbers and with real menace. Some of the interplay was a joy to behold, with everyone contributing during their time on the pitch.

The 2s have now moved into third place in the table, ahead of Oxton on goal difference. With their final match of the season at home to bottom-of-the-table Runcorn on Saturday 14th March, the team have a real opportunity to finish the season in third – that would be an exceptional achievement for the side!