Northop Hall Men’s 2s 2 Whitchurch Men’s 1s 2
Whitchurch travelled away to Northop Hall this week to play the team one place below them in the league, knowing it would be a tough game. The game started reasonably well, but Whitchurch were guilty of the same mistakes as the previous couple of weeks: poor control, weak passing and generally not being fully in the game from the start. Some of this could be in part due to a pitch that was very sandy after a recent resurfacing, but still having less bounce than a dropped jelly – but ultimately the Reds failed to compensate properly for large periods of the first half. This meant many passes drew up short and were intercepted, attempts to run with the ball ended in tackles or loose passes, and aerials from the defence rarely made it to their targets.
Despite this, it was Whitchurch who went ahead first, with one of the few good passages of play from the half; the high press from Northop Hall left them exposed at the back, and Nick Cooper received a good forward pass after some simple passing play, and was able to round the keeper and put the ball into the open net. The rest of the half was spent under pressure at the back, with Danny Foulkes, Steve Kay, James Partington and Airan Jones working hard to cut out attacks from both wings and down the centre. Paul “Sturge” Leigh was again solid in goal, making sliding tackles and powerful clearances when the attacks had made it past the defence.
In the centre of the pitch, the pressure was relieved by some good work by Jack Barnes, Rob Chappell, Craig Hockenhull and Ben Kimberley, who came back time and again to help clear the ball and to mark the opposition’s midfield, but it was still difficult to break the high press with play breaking down too often. The front line of Tom Forster, Nick Cooper, Peter Scales, supported by Fred Egerton, were kept out of the game with forward passes being cut out or the Northop defence working well to regain the ball. The pressure told, with a good forward run evading the Whitchurch defence and the striker getting the ball past a diving Sturge.
The half-time score was 1-1, which was better than it might have been, but the Reds knew they should have done better. The half-time talk, without Captain Alex Fry this week, probably represents what is so good about the team this year: other players stepped up to take responsibility, highlighting what they knew to be problems and working out plans for the team to implement. Risky play – unsafe long balls, aerials, driving into tackles – were to be replaced with more careful passing, better running, earlier offloads to accommodate the pitch and the opposition better. The second half reflected this and was far, far better. The Northop Hall defence was breached time and again, with Cooper receiving long passes on several occasions and being denied only by excellent keeping or last minute tackles. Forster went very close, and wings were used well to get passes into the dee. Whitchurch moved the ball better across the pitch, shuffling the defence to bring Chappell back to strengthen the play from deep, and passes started to reach their targets, good runs were made, tackles were avoided, and the width of the pitch was used far better. The attacks led to a number of great balls across the Northop dee, lacking only the final touch, but leading to a number of short corners. It was from one of these that Barnes scored the Reds’ second, with a well-executed routine ending in a flick at the goalkeeper who only got a slight touch to it before it hit the net.
The rest of the half was more even, and Northop Hall got a short corner of their own which was initially stopped well by Sturge, but the rebound fell nicely to the Northop striker who put it over the prone keeper. Whitchurch defended well for the rest of the half and were able to see the game out to continue a run of games where the quality hasn’t always been there, but the determination and commitment has seen them through to a good result. They stay ahead of Northop Hall, third in the league, and are away to Neston next week.
Whitchurch ladies 3s 3 Alderley Edge ladies 7s 1
Victory for the Whitchurch Ladies this weekend was a well deserved 3-1 win against Alderley Edge lead by Captain Wendy Cooper.
The start of the game didn’t’ look too promising for Whitchurch with Alderley Edge securing a number of short corners early on. However, and as a result of the brilliant defence from Mel Reid, Emily Lister, Wendy Cooper, Jan Teggin and Gayle Ladd, who went on to earn a well-deserved player of the match, were unable to secure any goals. Whitchurch went on to have a few short corners for themselves, a greatly structured short corner with outstanding play from the ladies allowed Becky Brookfield to convert the corner into their 1st goal. After some great play Whitchurch scored again but unfortunately this landed in the home goal making it 1-1. Nina Hodges was fouled in the dee leading to Whitchurch being awarded a free flick this was taken by Gayle with an unfortunate save. .
After some team talk the second half was filled with a lot of pressure from Whitchurch, Emily Lister, Kate Buckeridge, Fran Ball and Mia Spruce worked tirelessly on the wings helping to push the game Whitchurch’s way. The continuous great play by Becky Brookfield, Sue Read, Annie Buckeridge and Nina Hodges down the centre of the pitch enabled the ball to stay in the oppositions half enabling Nina Hodges to slam the ball into the back boards making the score to 2-1. Whitchurch were not out of the woods as Alderley Edge tried to get the ball through the ever strong Whitchurch defence without success and through exceptional play by all ladies the ball stayed in the oppositions half and again Nina Hodges found the back boards bringing the score to 3-1.
Well done ladies you all played brilliantly and you deserved to win.
Wilmslow ladies 3s 1 Whitchurch ladies 1s 3
Whitchurch ladies 1s travelled away to play top of the league Wilmslow 3s. From the move of the first ball Whitchurch ladies took control, passing the ball well around Wilmslow defence. Mid fielders Lisa Sullivan, Millie Edwards and Catherine Winter-Gresty held the middle strong giving forwards Stephanie Stanton, Ellie Windsor and Jessica Carruthers strength to have several attempts on goal. With a short corner awarded to Whitchurch a well practiced routine was pulled off as Ellie Windsor deflected a strong pass in from Captain Catherine Winter-Gresty into the net.
Wilmslow were in shock as Whitchurch were on fire and scored again from the same short corner routine, this time Staunton catching the rebound and slotting the ball onto the back board.
Wilmslow began to fight back and keeper Maddy Sugden was put into action and saved several shots on goal and defence Catherine Reece-Gresty and Emma Harper passed the ball back up the pitch.
Half time came and Whitchurch caught their breath to go back out with as much determination to win as the start.
Wilmslow used a different strategy moving more players into the dee and managed to score as the ball caught in the keepers pads, fell and trickled over the line. With a bit more play in the Whitchurch end Chloe Lloyd and Martha Teggin picked up Wilmslow as they started using wide balls to get around the strong centre.
With the ball moving forward Whitchurch had another run of shorts, but they scored their third and final goal by Stephanie Stanton slipping it into the far corner.
Whitchurch held a frustrated Wilmslow off until the final whistle went.
A fantastic win for Whitchurch, beating top of the league and moving them up to only one point behind the two top teams!
Player’s player was awarded to Captain Catherine Winter-Gresty.
Sale ladies 3s 3 Whitchurch ladies 2s 4
Whitchurch were away this week and ready for a strong match against Sale who were one place above them in the league.
Whitchurch started strong from the push back and quickly scored an early goal from Leanne Read which was skilfully set up by Ellie McEvoy and Emily Vernon who were the dream team up the left wing for the whole game. Sale quickly followed with a chasing goal.
Whitchurch came back with a surge of energy and Read scored another goal within a few minutes. Jess Kimberley, Helen Mellor and Gwyn Thomas-Rees kept the Sale attack at bay with some tactical defending and strong teamwork which was eventually worn down by the Sale attack, resulting in another goal for Sale.
After half time, Whitchurch came back with a new burst of energy which left them dominating the game with the majority of the possession and plenty of shots on goal. The pressure resulted in Leanne Read claiming her hattrick as the ball flew into the net following a short corner. With Sale always on chasing their tale, a goal was conceded after a strong drive from the Sale defence.
At 3-3 in the final few minutes, Whitchurch needed another surge of energy and a goal to seal a win. Seeing a window of opportunity there was a sharp attack from Leanne Read and Emily Vernon who took the ball up the pitch with Emily driving it into the net and scoring the winning goal. With Whitchurch being ahead and a few minutes left, Whitchurch shut down any attack Sale had to try and claw back a draw. With the final whistle blowing and the score being 4-3 to Whitchurch it was a well deserved win following a good game with both sides coming away pleased with their performance.
Whitchurch dominated the game from start to finish, demonstrating their skill and team work from the beginning resulting in the win they deserved. With the first win of the season in the bag, they are hopeful for the rest of the season and more wins to come.
Whitchurch Men’s 2s 0 Oxton Men’s 5s 6
Looking to bounce back from their hammering by Neston last week, Whitchurch Men’s 2s welcomed in-form Oxton 5s to SJT on Saturday afternoon. With two thumping wins in their last two fixtures, including a big win against Neston, the game against the Wirral side was always going to be tough for the Reds, especially without the experience and influence of Craig Hockenhull, who was away with the first team.
Whitchurch got off to the worst possible start, with Oxton racing into an early 2-0 lead. Although the Wirral side were also fielding a few young players, the superior hockey skills of the visitors, coupled with their pace and power had the Whitchurch players chasing shadows. Oxton were able to move the ball quickly through the Whitchurch midfield and defence, creating great chances that keeper Gareth Teggin was powerless to stop.
Whitchurch had a few brief flurries in front of goal during the first half but the closest they came to scoring was a shot from Sam Conway that flashed across the goal.
Throughout the first half, chances kept coming for the visitors. The Whitchurch defenders (Mark Sugden, Doug Buckeridge, Wyn Morris and Brendan Coburn) were under the cosh, but worked manfully to keep the score down, with a series of great tackles and clearances, and Gareth Teggin made a number of good stops to keep the score down. Despite their efforts Oxton finished the half with a 4-0 lead.
The second half followed a similar pattern, but Whitchurch worked hard to close the spaces Oxton had exploited in the first half. Sam Conway, David Brunyard and Joe Coburn dropped deeper to help out the defence, and Richard Leigh and young Will Snaith dropped into defence to help out the tiring defenders.
Oxton added a further two goals in the second half, but Whitchurch also had their chances. Ethan Gresty had an excellent game on the right wing and combined well with Euan Morris and Joe Faithfull to create some half-chances around the dee. 13-year old Jacob Buckeridge forced the Oxton keeper into a good save from a well-worked short corner routine, and Whitchurch thought they’d got their goal, late in the game, but the goal was ruled out for a stray foot following a discussion between the two umpires.
Oxton were good value for their 6-0 win, but Whitchurch shouldn’t be downhearted. Certainly the effort put in by all of the 2s players was deserving of praise, but in this game they just came up against a team superior in quality all over the pitch.
Whitchurch Men’s 2s entertain Chester 6s at SJT on Saturday 17th November in their next fixture.