Category Archives: Match Reports

Blow-by-blow accounts of the latest (hopefully) action…

Match Reports 03/10/20

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!

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.

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!

Match Reports 29/02/20

Bowden Vixens 2 Whitchurch ladies 3s 1

Whitchurch ladies 3rds played a friendly away against Bowden Vixens on their spare weekend from the league. The first half saw goalkeeper Louise Cottrell and the defence of Mel Reid, Emma Stubbs and Hermione Ball come under pressure from the Bowden attacks but they calmly retrieved the ball and set up Whitchurch attacks through the midfield of Poppy Huxley, Annie Leigh and Alice Page.

With the inners of Jasmin Williams and Emily Lister a constant thorn in the side of opposition as they worked tirelessly to break down the opposition possession. In the centre of the pitch, Jan Teggin and captain Wendy Cooper worked together with forwards Jess Kimberly, Kate Buckeridge, Caitlin Edwards and Libby Fox to create Whitchurch chances in the Bowden dee. The first goal was scored by Bowden as they broke quickly and finished clinically giving them a lead into the break.

Whitchurch soon were back on equal terms in the second half as Page drove through the Bowden midfield and slipped the ball to Kimberley to score. Bowden again took the lead breaking quickly and catching Whitchurch with a counterattack.

Whitchurch pushed hard for the equalising goal and despite creating many good chances their luck wasn’t there as they failed to make that last elusive touch in the dee.

Player of the match was Hermione Ball. Next week Whitchurch ladies 3’s are at home to Cheshire Blues.

Whitchurch ladies 1s 7 Neston ladies 3s 2

Ladies 1s entertained Neston 3s at home this week and what a mix of weather they had. As soon as they set up on the pitch the skies darkened and snow began to fall.

Straight away Whitchurch put plenty of pressure on Neston, using the width of Kezzie Hutching and Hebe Dixon. Forwards Izzy Huxley and Ellie Windsor battled in the dee and won a short corner allowing Emma Harper to use her powerful shot to slot their first past the keeper.

With the snow coming down so thick the game was stopped until it was safe to play again.

Neston fought well, but defence Chloe Lloyd and Harper cleared from the dee. With some fast play up the pitch from captain Catherine Winter-Gresty and Millie Edwards, Anna Latham stormed from nowhere onto the back post to score their second. Neston got on the score sheet from a powerful strike off a short corner. Sarah Field received a ball in the dee from Edwards and scored a 3rd for Whitchurch. Just before half time Neston made a break and scored a second.

A quick team talk and the ladies 1s came out battling against Neston defence.

Some lovely passing around Neston and Field returned the assist to Millie Edwards for a 4th.

Great play through the centre of the pitch through Molly Fry and out to Nina Hodges who set up Field for another two great goals. With only minutes to go Sarah Field managed to get a 7th for Whitchurch from open play. A great 7-2 win for the ladies 1s.

Whitchurch currently sit third in the league with the top two one point ahead, but as they play against top team Bowden at home next week promotion is still a real possibility!

Chester University Men’s 1s 1 Whitchurch Men’s 1s 6

On a blustery Saturday afternoon Whitchurch men’s 1st’s travelled to Chester Uni campus to play their men’s first team, missing two key defenders in captain Danny Foulkes and James Partington. The latter definitely big shoes to fill for Luke Davies stepping in to cover the left back role.

The opposition could only field a team of 10 players; however, this wasn’t evident in the opening spell as they pressed high onto the Whitchurch back line of Alex Fry, Chris Ruscoe and Luke Davies, with Paul ‘Sturge’ Leigh being called into early action in the Whitchurch goal to prevent the hosts taking an early lead.  Whitchurch took the lead soon after as they exploited the space left at the Chester back from the high press. A quick move up field started by Tom Forster found Jon Chappell in the opposition dee, who drew the keeper off his line to slip the ball to his younger brother Rob Chappell, who slapped the ball into the bottom left corner to make it 1-0 to the away team.

Whitchurch continued to soak up the pressure of the young Chester squad who had a series of short corners looking to find the equaliser, but the away team defence along with Sturge in goal kept them at bay.  At the other end Whitchurch won a short corner after some neat build up, resulting in a slick pass from stand in captain Dale “Stavros” Seymour finding Chris Ruscoe to slot the ball home under the Chester keeper making it 2-0 to the visitors.

Chester’s high press and quick ball movement eventually paid off just before half time when a shot on goal found a Whitchurch foot on the line and a penalty flick was awarded. Sturge managed to get a good hand onto the resulting flick but it somehow trickled in under his body to give the home side a sniff of getting back into the game, however, on the stroke of half time Jack Barnes’ pin point pass across field found Ben Kimberley at the top of the opposition D, who’s powerful shot found the bottom right corner to maintain Whitchurch’s two goal lead at half time.

Chester pressed once more at the start of the 2nd half but the extra man advantage of the away side started to take its toll on a now tiring home team. Gaps were left open and some quick ball movement through the Whitchurch midfield lead to the fourth goal being scored, as Nick Cooper rounded the Chester keeper and smashed the ball low and hard into the bottom left corner.

Great support play from Airan Jones, Sam Conway and Will Gilbert fresh from the bench meant Whitchurch always had fresh legs on the pitch and this began to take its toll on the home team. Reduced to nine players due to injury, Whitchurch took advantage and made it 5-1 when Jon Chappell pounced on a loose ball from a short corner routine and blasted it into the Chester goal.

The icing on the cake came in the last ten minutes as Captain Seymour’s neat pass set up young Will Gilbert running into the dee one on one with the Chester keeper he nonchalantly slipped the ball under him, ran around and thumped home the ball to pick up his first senior 1st team goal and Whitchurch’s 6th, mirroring the score line from the previous meeting earlier in the season, and maintaining Whitchurch’s push to be league champions with two matches left to go.

Next week Whitchurch welcome Chester 5th’s for their final home match of the 2019/2020 season, with only a single point required to confirm their position as league winners.

Whitchurch Men’s 2s 3 Bangor University Men’s 1s 4

The Men’s 2s welcomed runaway league-leaders Bangor University to a cold and blustery Whitchurch on Saturday. With the Welsh side boasting a 100% win-rate this season, it was no real surprise that Bangor started the game on the front foot. Their pace and power were difficult for the home team to get to grips with, and Whitchurch were unable to string their passes together and found it difficult to dispossess their opponents. Wyn Morris and Doug Buckeridge were doing their best to clear the danger, but Bangor won a series of early short corners that were well dealt with by Whitchurch.

As in previous games this season, Whitchurch progressively grew into the game. Joe Coburn, Luke Beddow and Richard Leigh were linking well in midfield, whilst Alex Leigh was providing a useful outlet on the right-hand flank. With Euan Morris’s willing running upfront, the home side started to cause some problems to the Bangor rear-guard.

Whitchurch opened the scoring with a neat passing move involving Coburn and Beddow, that sent Alex Leigh free on the right side of the dee and his cross shot was knocked in by Morris at the back post. Bangor responded but still couldn’t conjure up a clear chance, although keeper Neil Jones kicked clear on a couple of occasions. As Bangor committed players forward, Whitchurch struck on the counterattack and doubled their lead as Euan Morris fired in his second from a narrow angle.

Bangor were a little shell-shocked but dug in and increased the intensity, putting more pressure on the Whitchurch backline. Several short corners came and went for the away side but eventually the away side pulled a goal back, as Whitchurch appealed for a foot as the goal-scorer picked up the ball in the dee.

The league-leaders continued to apply pressure, but still looked vulnerable on the counterattack. The Whitchurch passing through midfield was good and with Ethan Gresty driving down the right and Owen Pearce on the left, crosses whizzed across the Bangor dee, but no Whitchurch players could get the finishing touch. The home side were also unlucky when a shot came back off the post but fell to a Bangor stick.

At the other end, keeper Neil Jones produced a couple of handy stops to keep out the away side and Will Snaith did really well to deflect a chipped shot away from the goal-line. Eventually however, Bangor managed to find an equalising goal, taking advantage of a bit of confusion in the Whitchurch defence as substitutions were being called.

With the scores level at half-time and having lost a two-goal lead, it was important that Whitchurch girded themselves and put the same commitment into the second half of the game. Bangor flew out of the blocks and the pace and power of their players continued to cause problems for the Reds defence. Again, Neil Jones made some good stops, Gareth Teggin made some useful blocks, Wyn Morris made some robust tackles and Will Snaith provided excellent cover on the left.

The home side continued to work the ball well through midfield. Richard Leigh and Dave Brunyard were diligent in their defensive duties and supplied the ball to Coburn and Beddow to create some magic. Gresty and Jacob Buckeridge were providing width on the flanks, and although the team threatened around the dee, they couldn’t quite fashion a clear chance to shoot at goal.

Bangor took the lead midway through the half. Once again Whitchurch were distracted by what they thought was a foot in the build-up and failed to deal with a pass into the dee which was cleverly deflected over the diving Jones. The away side sensed a chance to take control of the game, but Whitchurch fought back and a cleverly worked short corner routine saw Euan Morris fire in his third goal of the game to equalise.

The game was now in the balance. Bangor looked a bit surprised to be pegged back and Whitchurch sensed an opportunity to pull off an unexpected victory. Bangor continued to drive with pace and power through the middle of the pitch, whilst Whitchurch moved the ball in short neat passes up to the Bangor dee. But with the game heading towards its conclusion it was Bangor that snatched the next goal. Good play down their left saw a diagonal ball played into the dee and a mishit shot crept under Jones’ pads to give the away side a decisive lead. Whitchurch responded well and drove forward in search of another equaliser, but despite having a short corner on the final whistle, they couldn’t quite grab the draw that they deserved.

Although they lost the game, Whitchurch should take a huge amount of pride and satisfaction from this game. Bangor have been the stand-out team in the division this season. There is a reason they have a 100%-win record and have despatched most teams with ease, including the 2s in the reverse fixture. They are a very good side. Once again Whitchurch showed they can compete with the best teams in the division, but unlike the previous occasions where a late capitulation has resulted in horrible defeats, this time they were in with a chance of getting a result with the very last play of the game.

Joe Coburn was superb in midfield and dictated most of Whitchurch’s good attacking play, Euan Morris was ruthless in front of goal and put in a great shift up front, and again Alex Leigh was excellent on the wing and at fullback. But all the players, young and old, should be proud of their efforts in the match. Similar application in their final two games of the season could see them finish the season in style.

The 2s next game is a re-arranged fixture at home to Winnington Park 4s, at 11am, on Sunday 8th March, at SJT.