Category Archives: Match Reports

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

Match Reports 23/03/19

Whitchurch Men’s 1s 4 Northop Hall Men’s 2s 2

Whitchurch’s final game of the season was at home and, with league safety assured, they looked to play a controlled match against a team fighting at the bottom of the table. With the pressure driving Northop to go for the win, the game started with great intensity which Whitchurch had to ensure they matched.

The first half was full of strong tackles, and powerful drives, and a few cards were shown when both teams got too enthusiastic but on the whole the two sides were evenly balanced. Northop Hall made some good runs and aggressive drives down both wings, and were again kept out by some excellent work by Paul “Sturge” Leigh in goal, including a smart glove deflection which looped up and bounced off the crossbar and away. Whitchurch’s midfield had plenty of work to do, but Alex Fry, Marcus Conway, Tom Forster, Jack Barnes and Dale Seymour worked the ball well to wrestle control of the match away from Northop, and up front, Nick Cooper, Ben Kimberley, Craig Hockenhull and Sam Conway were able to find their way into the Northop dee on several occasions, but some good work by their defence and keeper kept the score down.

Eventually the pressure told, with some lovely work by Cooper driving into the dee and then switching the ball to Marcus Conway who slotted the ball into the goal. Conway was then heavily involved in the second, working a good one-two with Barnes who ran round the edge of the dee before putting all his power through the ball past the keeper’s head into the top of the netting from a tight angle.

As the second half developed, Whitchurch maintained good control of the match. Whereas in the first half some passes hadn’t made their targets or were speculative hits up the pitch, balls were reaching their targets and marking was much better. This was never more apparent than when Northop had sixteen’s where time and again there was no out-ball for them as every player was marked, so they would hit-and-hope – but a Red stick would pick the ball very early and pressure would immediately be applied again. One such pickup led to a goalmouth scramble where Sam Conway finally got his first goal of the season as he tapped in at the back post.

The Reds had shot after shot at goal which were either kept out by good work from the Northop keeper, or missed by inches. However, Northop did finally get a goal back as a speculative ball forward got past James Partington in defence and was picked up and flicked over a diving Sturge right at the edge of the Whitchurch dee. The defence of Partington, Pip Jones, Danny Foulkes, Airan Jones and Fred Egerton had a solid game, and were able to prevent a number of attacks and generally marked well, but the Northop forwards were well-drilled and quick, and another breakaway doubled the score as a Northop attacker got into the dee and was able to force the ball out from under a prone keeper and into the goal for their second.

Whitchurch rallied, determined not to get the game get away from them and some more simple but effective hockey, moving the ball well up the wings and across the dee let Cooper get one more for the season as he slotted the ball in at the back post after some more strong work in the Northop dee. Whitchurch finish the season mid-table, again showing their ability across the season but also knowing there are areas to improve upon for next year. The younger players have had strong seasons and merited their selection time and again; the older players provided experience and composure and the ones in between gave their all with speed and skill, and the sense of team spirit was far improved this year. A good season comes to an end, promising a bright 2019/20 season to come.

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

The Men’s 2s travelled to Hawarden on Saturday afternoon for their final game of the season against Northop Hall 3s. With the home side a couple of points behind table-toppers Chester, they themselves were looking for a win to set up a title decider against Chester next weekend. On paper this was always going to be a tough fixture for the Reds but, for the second week running, the 2s went into a match with a full squad of 16 players, three of which had already played u14s hockey in Shropshire that morning.

The visitors started the match strongly. Richard Leigh, Joe Coburn and Ethan Gresty were keeping good possession high up the pitch and creating some promising positions for James Page and Jacob Buckeridge. Euan Morris was always involved linking the play but Northop defended well, and on a really slow and challenging playing surface, Whitchurch couldn’t fashion any meaningful chances.

After weathering the early storm, the home side began to find their passes and as Whitchurch attacks broke down, Northop Hall were quick to counter. Doug Buckeridge, Mark Sugden, Wyn Morris and Brendan Coburn had to work hard to deal with powerful running from the Northop midfield and the pace the home side had available up front. As the half progressed the defending became a bit more ragged and the home side started to win short corners, although Gareth Teggin was relatively untested in goal.

Eventually, with the pressure mounting on the Whitchurch goal, the home side opened the scoring after a short corner. A poor clearance was returned into the dee and Gareth Teggin’s kick clear unfortunately fell straight onto a Northop stick, with the ball being swept back into an unguarded goal.

The Reds were soon 2-0 down, and frustrated when a late tackle seemed to have knocked the defenders stick out of his hand when trying to clear the ball out of the dee, leaving Northop in a good position to square the ball past Gareth for a finish into an empty goal.

Whitchurch continued to plug away, but were struggling to find their passing range on the slow pitch. Passes were often falling short of their intended recipients and the visiting players were finding it difficult to dribble the ball with enough pace to get past the solid Northop defending.

Whitchurch shuffled their formation at halftime, looking to plug some of the gaps in the centre of the pitch that Northop had exploited in the first half. David Brunyard and Alex Leigh were sitting a little deeper to protect the defenders and Joe Faithfull and Luke Beddow were tucking in to force Northop into the wider areas of the pitch. This worked reasonably well over the course of the second half as plenty of Northop attacks were being stopped at source. The defenders continued to work hard and reduced the home side’s shooting chances, but keeper Teggin did make one excellent stop when one-on-one with the Northop striker.

Unfortunately the Reds did concede a third goal from a messy short corner. As Wyn broke early, it looked like the umpire was going to stop play and reset the short, but when the whistle didn’t go it was Northop who were first to react and the ball was scruffily pushed into the Whitchurch goal.

Throughout the second half Whitchurch tried to play the good passing hockey that has become a pleasingly familiar sight from the side over the past couple of months. Despite the struggles with the pace of the pitch they managed to work themselves into some good positions. Owen Pearce and James Page were offering Euan plenty of support up front, and Ethan, the two Joes, Luke and Jacob all found themselves in good attacking positions. But despite plenty of shots the team couldn’t find that elusive goal through a combination of good defending, good goalkeeping and simply missing the target.

This was a tough afternoon for the Reds on a tricky pitch against a good side, but despite the 3-0 defeat the side gave a good account of themselves and really made Northop Hall work hard for their victory. Perhaps the team will feel that all of the goals could have been dealt with a bit better, or on another day the umpire’s calls may have gone in their favour, but that would be a bit churlish to the home side, who played well and probably deserved their victory in a good game of hockey.

The 2s currently sit 7th in the league table with Runcorn and Oxton playing each other next weekend, they cannot finish bottom of the league this season.

But the league table isn’t important, because more significant has been the development of this very young side since September. The 2s have lost all of their experienced players to circumstances and the 1s,  but six of the current under-14s and seven other juniors, all under 16-years old, have played regularly for the 2s this season. The side has recovered from losing all of their first 8 games of the season and have mustered three wins, a draw, and two tight defeats away to the top two sides in the division from their final eight matches. The Men’s 2s are now playing some really good hockey and working very hard to prevent their opponents from playing. The players should be proud of their progress this season and should look forward to making further progress in the seasons to come.

Captain, Doug Buckeridge, would like to extend his thanks to everybody who has played 2s hockey this season, the drivers, the players and families who have helped out with teas, and the umpires who have officiated home and away this season. Roll on September!

Match Reports 16/03/19

Chester ladies 3s 1 Whitchurch ladies 1s 9

The final game of the season for the ladies 1s was played away against Chester 3s. Whitchurch ladies were fired up to finish with a win and they certainly showed they deserved a place in division 2.

From the push back Whitchurch kept possession moving the ball around the Chester players. Within minutes of the game Hebe Dixon shot the ball into the net for their first. All Chester could do was to hold back in defence as Whitchurch kept attacking. Lots of pressure from forwards Stephanie Stanton and Izzy Huxley allowed Dixon in the dee again to score their second. Chester broke a couple of times but were quickly picked up by defenders Millie Edwards and Emma Harper moving the ball out wide to Sophie Ward and Helena Dannenfeldt.

More shots on goal for Whitchurch and Ellie Windsor managed to slip one passed the keeper, quickly followed by a deflection from Jessica Carruthers. Whitchurch had a run of short corners which allowed Dixon to strike another into the Chester goal. Captain Catherine Winter-Gresty and Lisa Sullivan protected the middle of the pitch and kept forcing the ball wide, Whitchurch kept moving the ball accurately around Chester and a fast moving ball was collected by Helena Dannenfeldt and slotted into the corner. Dixon scored their sixth goal from a strike from top dee just before half time.

6-0 up and Whitchurch spirits were very high. Keen to get back to the game Whitchurch set up quickly raring to go. Chester had a change round of players and seemed a little stronger, quickly winning a short corner and scoring from it. This didn’t put Whitchurch off as they came back with some fantastic movement up the pitch and Lisa Sullivan saw a gap from top dee and scored the seventh. Jessica Carruthers deflected the eighth from a shot in from Windsor. Whitchurch keeper Maddy Sugden had a quiet game only touching the ball twice clearing the ball out to Millie Edwards. Chester dropped more players in to defend but Whitchurch just had time for another goal from Hebe Dixon before the whistle went.  A fantastic game to finish on for the ladies 1s and a promotion into division 2.

Whitchurch ladies 3’s 2 Neston ladies 5s 1

Whitchurch started their final match of the season with a strong attack led by centre forward Annie Buckeridge and supported by Mia Spruce and Kate Buckeridge. This attack continued and after some excellent passes from Laura Workman on the left wing found its way into the dee where Whitchurch had a shot on goal which was deflected and Holly Gilbert made an excellent aerial shot off the rebounding ball resulting in the first goal of the game for Whitchurch.

Neston then applied some pressure to Whitchurch and after battling through Emily Lister in mid field, Jan Teggin in defence and goalie Louise Cottrell managed to equalise the score line so by half time the teams were equal.

After a half time talk Whitchurch returned to the pitch hungry for more success. The attack of Milly Carruthers and Laura workman resulted in Whitchurch being awarded a short corner. Gayle Ladd received the ball but Neston were quick to defend the penalty corner but after a strong attack in the dee Wendy Cooper placed a shot into goal which was finished off by Ladd putting Whitchurch 2-1 ahead.

Neston continued to attack but Whitchurch’s Annie Leigh and Beth Wright made some excellent challenges to win the ball, and Mel Reid made some excellent clearances from the back to send the ball to the Whitchurch attackers.

Whitchurch ladies 3’s would like to thank all the coaches and supporters who have been with them this season.

Oxton Men’s 4s 2 Whitchurch Men’s 1s 1

Whitchurch’s last away game of the season was at Oxton in some blustery conditions against a team of youthful but skilful players, and the match was fairly evenly balanced. Oxton’s team may have been young, but gave every impression of having trained together for years as they drove up the pitch in formation time and again, with confident and accurate passes and excellent movement off the ball. Whitchurch in turn mostly kept to their tasks of marking and closing down attacks, but just lacked at times the composure on the ball with first touches and passes often making things harder for themselves. There were some good passages of play, but too many of the balls forward didn’t quite make their targets, or clearances from the back just went to an opposition stick, so it was not unexpected when the pressure told and Oxton drove into the dee and fired a ball at goal which went through James Partington’s legs completely unsighting goalkeeper Paul “Sturge” Leigh. Shortly afterwards another drive forward by Oxton ended with a speculative ball across the dee to no-one unfortunately clipping Airan Jones’ foot past Sturge into the goal.

The half time break gave the Reds a chance to regroup, but ultimately it was a case of doing what they already knew they needed to: tighten the marking, improve the passing and movement and keep composed on the ball. The second half started much brighter for Whitchurch with them taking the momentum in the match and having a lot of possession, especially in the Oxton end of the pitch. A number of shots were unlucky not to go in, or were saved by the excellent Oxton keeper, and when Oxton did break, the marking at the back was better from the Reds. Sturge was called on a number of times but, like last week, was able to keep out one-on-one attacks with strong blocks and good clearances. Danny Foulkes again provided composure and strength at the back, and Jones and Fred Egerton were strong out wide in defence as well as driving the ball out from the back. Alex Fry, Marcus Conway and Jack Barnes took control of the centre of the pitch, and Sam Conway, Craig Hockenhull, Ben Kimberley, Tom Forster and Nick Cooper rotated well at the front, getting behind the Oxton defence and causing them trouble. Eventually the pressure won Whitchurch a short corner and the routine went well, with Foulkes injecting and then receiving the switch back again to slot the ball through the defence to get Whitchurch on the scoreboard.

The second half of the second half was much tougher for Whitchurch as the superior fitness and precision of the Oxton team showed, with attack after attack coming down the wings with runners on the overlap. Oxton won a number of short corners in the second half, and Partington made two baseball-like clearances from flicks as the defence rallied and Sturge made critical blocks, but the momentum had shifted back and it is to Whitchurch’s credit that they worked together well enough to prevent any more goals. Sadly, despite some excellent work by the midfield and forwards to make some scoring chances in the final few minutes, the ball stayed out and the game ended 2-1. Whitchurch’s final game of the season is at home next week against Northop Hall 2s.


Whitchurch Men’s 2s 3 – 1 Denbigh Men’s 2s

For their final home game of the season Whitchurch welcomed Denbigh 2s to a damp and blustery SJT. Earlier in the season Denbigh had shaded a close game by three goals to two, but the Welsh side were only able to bring nine players to Shropshire, so hopes were high that the Reds could get a positive result from this fixture.

With their numerical superiority, Whitchurch dominated possession in the early stages. David Brunyard was providing the energy and Joe Coburn the guile in the centre of the pitch, whilst Joe Faithfull, Ethan Gresty, Owen Pearce and Jacob Buckeridge were creating width down the flanks as they subbed on and off. Good interplay led to some promising positions around the dee and the Reds won a couple of short corners that Denbigh survived with some last-ditch defending.

The Reds did open the scoring early in the half when, after some neat Whitchurch play, Joe Coburn flicked the ball from the edge of the dee into the far corner of the goal.

Despite continuing to dominate possession and territory, Whitchurch needed to be wary of quick counterattacks by the Welsh side. The Reds defence of Doug Buckeridge, Mark Sugden, Wyn Morris, Brendan Coburn and Will Snaith were dealing with most of the attacks and Denbigh struggled to get clear shooting chances. They did force a couple short corners but these were well dealt with by Whitchurch.

Midway through the half the home side were caught out as the pacy Denbigh winger managed to sneak behind the defenders and receive the ball on his own in the dee. Keeper Glyn Teggin came out but was unable to prevent the Welsh side from levelling the scores.

Whitchurch pushed forward to make amends for their mistake, but despite Richard Leigh’s calming presence in midfield, the Reds were struggling to string passes together near the Welsh dee. When they did get possession in the dee, shots were rushed and the visiting keeper was well protected by his defenders. Eventually the home side did find their composure and a good move down the right, involving Joe Coburn and Ethan Gresty, saw Luke Beddow sweep the ball home to restore the Whitchurch lead.

The home side continued to dominate territory and possession in the second half and created a good opportunity from the push back by carefully passing the ball through the Denbigh team, making the most of their numerical advantage.

Throughout the half, Whitchurch created chances in the opposition dee. Sometimes a lack of composure led to rushed and uncontrolled shots and on other occasions there was a surprising reticence to shoot when well placed. The Denbigh defence and keeper worked really hard to limit the Reds chances, with the keeper making two or three really good saves and Welsh bodies being put on the line, literally and metaphorically, to keep the ball out of their goal.

Whitchurch won a number of short corners during the second half and at the umpteenth attempt, Euan Morris and Joe Coburn played a clever one-two in the dee and Euan fired home to make it 3-1 to the home side.

Euan was unlucky not to add to his tally as the whistle went for a short corner just as he put the ball into the Denbigh net. Alex Leigh was denied from close range by various Welsh body parts and the home side were unable to find a finishing touch to a couple of goal mouth scrambles.

Despite their tiring legs, Denbigh tried to create their own chances. Their speedy captain was always a threat on the counterattack and whilst the threat to the Whitchurch goal was sporadic, the defenders needed to be on their toes and Glyn Teggin needed to make a couple of good clearances.

Whitchurch were good value for the 3-1 score line, but, churlishly, this was probably their least impressive performance of the past couple of months. Massive credit should go to the 9-men of Denbigh who defended doggedly and really made the home side work for the victory. Whitchurch had very few clear cut chances due to a combination of tight Welsh defending and poor decision making in the dee.

Once again Joe Coburn was a standout performer, but Luke Beddow and Euan Morris played really well upfront and were a constant nuisance to the Denbigh defenders. Will Snaith had a great game in defence but offered good support to the attackers on the right hand side and Richard Leigh offered a calming presence in midfield when Whitchurch were getting a bit ragged and exasperated during the second half.

The Reds play their final game of the season away to Northrop Hall 3s next weekend.

Match Reports 09/03/19

Whitchurch ladies 1s 6 Wilmslow ladies 3s 2

Whitchurch Ladies 1s entertained Wilmslow 3s at home for their last home game of the season. With Wilmslow still in contention for a top four finish Whitchurch were prepared for a tough game.

From the whistle Whitchurch had majority of the ball putting plenty of pressure on the Wilmslow defence. Ellie Windsor started the goals rolling deflecting a shot from Lisa Sullivan. As the ball was passed around Wilmslow, there were more shots on goal from Hebe Dixon and Helena Dannenfeldt, but Wilmslow defence held tight. Ellie Windsor’s picked the ball up on the edge of the dee beating the last defender and fired an unstoppable shot into the bottom corner for her second of the game.

Every break from Wilmslow was tidied up by Millie Edwards and Catherine Reece-Gresty in defence, playing the ball wide to Sophie Ward and Helen Mellor who made some great runs up the wings. Whitchurch were relentless in their pressure on the Wilmslow defence rolling players to keep fresh legs and the intensity on their dee. Jessica Carruthers and Stephanie Stanton worked tirelessly up from and managed to place the ball for Captain Catherine Winter-Gresty to slot home a deflection from the keeper. Spirits were high and Whitchurch kept attacking; only minutes passed and Winter-Gresty collected the ball in the 25, drove into the dee and struck the ball into the far corner. Whitchurch just had time for another goal before half time as Izzy Huxley arrived on the back post to slot the ball under the advancing keeper.

At half time Wilmslow obviously had a hard talking to as they came out a lot stronger and focussed, passing more around Whitchurch. Winning a run of short corners goalkeeper Maddie Sugden made a string of amazing saves, but Wilmslow eventually pressure was rewarded as they managed to score their first goal from a well practiced routine. Whitchurch continued with their game plan and again were back scoring as Stanton latched onto a cross and slipped the ball through the keeper’s legs. With five minutes to go and both teams getting tired the game slowed, but another short corner came for Wilmslow which they managed to score from. Player’s player was awarded to Millie Edwards.

Whitchurch play their final game of the season away against Chester next week.

Whitchurch Men’s 1s 3 – Chester Men’s 5s 1

With the season drawing to a close, Whitchurch were looking to ensure league safety as well as get a victory against a Chester team they drew within the previous fixture. It was to be another game-of-two-halves with the first half being made far more difficult by Whitchurch’s own efforts: again composure on the ball and movement off it were not what they could or should have been, and they struggled to find any fluency. Passes were easily intercepted; balls forward didn’t find their targets and poor first touches would leave people compromised. Tempers frayed on both sides, and a number of green and yellow cards were shown, which had been the case in the first fixture and was what both teams needed to avoid. What the Reds did do was grind out a goal, with Tom Forster passing a sideline ball to Nick Cooper who slipped it across to Ben Kimberley who put it into the top right corner. At the back, Whitchurch managed to keep every one of the many short corners out, but it was attritional hockey. It wasn’t helped by James Partington taking an accidentally-raised ball to the jaw and needing treatment, but one thing Whitchurch is much better at this season is using substitutes well, and the team restructured smoothly.

The half-time talk was a stern one from captain Alex Fry, pulling no punches about what needed doing; the standards to which the team ought to hold themselves demanded an improvement in the second half, and anything less would not be acceptable. It is a pattern from this season that it is often the half time talk that marks a game’s turnaround, and it was the same this week: the second half was good in every way that the first half had been poor. Movement was better; control was sharper and marking tighter – often leaving the Chester defence no-one to pass at sixteen’s. The back row of Airan Jones, Dale Seymour, Fred Egerton, Forster and Partington improved the marking to cut out most attacks before they developed. Marcus Conway, Fry and Jack Barnes in the middle took control of the pitch, breaking the attacking circles at free hits and driving the ball up the pitch and, critically, their forward passes were now finding their targets. Up front, Sam Conway, Pip Jones, Craig Hockenhull, Kimberley and Cooper were causing the Chester defence endless problems with number of shots just wide or saved by the excellent keeper, including a shot by Airan Jones that almost crept between his pads. The pressure finally told, with a drive down the right by Sam Conway getting passed to Forster who put a high ball across the face of goal where Cooper perfected an overhead smash to bury it in the net.

It was not all one-way traffic in the second half, with Chester rallying well and Paul “Sturge” Leigh was instrumental in keeping the score line in check, including blocking and then clearing an attack despite it being three-on-one as the defence were beaten and struggling to get back. Sturge was again the saviour as a drive into the dee by Chester ended with a flick to the right of the goal but an outstretched toe was enough to divert it past the post. Chester did manage to get on the scoreboard with a speculative ball forward being only partly blocked by Partington – directly into the feet of Seymour, and the Chester forward didn’t wait for a whistle for the short corner but pulled off a skilful flick over a diving keeper. Whitchurch regrouped, determined not to let the game get away from them, and were able to win a short corner at the other end. The routine went well, with the ball being moved around the dee before Barnes drilled a shot through a group of players for Whitchurch’s third.

At the end of the game, the result was what Whitchurch needed, even if the first half wasn’t one to remember. Chester were decent opposition and made the Reds work for their win, but the way Whitchurch came back for the second half and the application they showed was much appreciated by both the team and the supporters. They have their last away game for the season against Oxton Men’s 4s next week.

Chester Men’s 6s 2 Whitchurch Men’s 2s 0

After putting out an under-strength side last time out, the Reds welcomed back a number of key players for their visit to table-topping Chester. The reverse fixture saw Chester run out comfortable 6-0 winners, so Whitchurch were looking to improve on that outcome, building on their much improved performances in the second half of the season.

As expected, an experienced Chester side took the game to Whitchurch from the off, putting pressure on the Whitchurch dee but not managing to penetrate the youthful defensive line of Will Snaith, Wyn Morris, Brendan Coburn and Alex Leigh. The Whitchurch midfield also played their part, breaking up the home side’s momentum and ensuring the Chester attack had only scraps too feed off. On the odd occasion they did break through, Gareth Teggin in goal assuredly cleared any danger.

As the first half wore on, the young Whitchurch attack of Luke Beddow, Euan Morris and Ethan Gresty began to make inroads into Chester’s back line, creating a number of half chances that unfortunately lacked a finishing touch.

Chester became more reliant on route one hockey, bypassing their skilful midfield players with long hits towards the Whitchurch dee. One of these hits found a Chester attacker, and from the resulting melee the ball somehow squirmed its way over the line to give the home side the lead. Buoyed by the goal, Chester continued to press, forcing a good stop from Reds keeper Gareth Teggin, but the pressure eventually led to a controversial penalty flick awarded to the home side. While the ball undoubtedly struck a Whitchurch foot on the goal line, the frantic scramble beforehand saw at least two players lose their footing in the dee competing for the ball, with the ball striking the head of a prone Chester player before falling nicely for the Chester shot on goal.

Whitchurch continued to play their attractive passing hockey, and a superb move featuring Richard Leigh, Joe Coburn and Euan Morris found Luke Beddow in an excellent shooting position in the Chester dee, only for the umpire frustratingly to blow for a short corner before Luke could get the shot away. The resulting short came to nothing, but the Reds passing and movement, with replacements Owen Pearce and James Page playing their parts, increasingly worried the Chester defence, and they were perhaps the more relieved of the two sides to hear the half-time whistle.

The second half got off to a more even start, with neither side able to gain the upper hand. The pattern of the latter stages of the first half began to play out once again, as Chester fell back on big hits towards the Whitchurch dee, while the Whitchurch youngsters looked to pass and move the ball up the field. Chester left two attackers high up near the Whitchurch dee, but one fluffed opportunity aside, the Whitchurch defence coped well with the tactic, with Mark Sugden bringing his experience to bear with some good interceptions and accurate passing out of the danger area.

As the second half progressed, Chester legs began to tire and the game was played more and more in the Chester half. However, despite some attractive build-up play, Whitchurch were unable to make meaningful inroads into the Chester dee, foiled by a combination of a packed defence and a reticence to actually fire the ball into the dee; there was also at times a lack of composure on the ball. David Brunyard, Joe Coburn and Joe Faithfull worked tirelessly in midfield to push the Reds on, but in the end, neither side was able to make the opposing goalkeeper work for large parts of the second half. Despite Whitchurch seeing more of the ball, the lack of a cutting edge meant that the game ended without further addition to the score line.

The Chester players were gracious in victory, acknowledging that the very promising crop of Whitchurch youngsters had played the better hockey for most of the game. On this occasion, route one hockey had ground out a win for the home side, but the passing, movement and teamwork shown by the Reds once again illustrated how far the team has come since their defeat against the same Chester side earlier in the season.

Whitchurch ladies 2s 1 Sale ladies 3s 6

The result in no way reflected the game, Whitchurch started the first half taking the game to Sale who looked shell shocked at the attacking prowess of the Whitchurch team. Whitchurch created chance after chance in the first 15 minutes and eventually took the lead as Nicola Forster swept the ball up into the roof of the net.

Whitchurch then undid all their good work as two mistakes in defence gave Sale two chances in five minutes and Sale clinically took their opportunities. The Whitchurch heads dropped as the team focussed on the negative and not on the positives of the first 15 minutes. Sale ruthlessly exploited the nervousness in the Whitchurch side and two more chances resulted in two more goals before the break.

The half time talk focussed on playing like the first 15 minutes and not worrying about mistakes. Whitchurch took this on board and started the second half as they did the first taking the ball to the Sale defence with a confidence that has only been seen in limited periods this season. Phoebe Jones, Molly Fry and Emily Vernon tackled and passed the ball around the midfield creating opportunities for Tracy Tolhurst, Caitlin Edwards and Beth Wright to get the ball into advanced positions. The defence of Chloe Lloyd, Captain Emma Clarke, Becky Brookfield and Marta Teggin broke down the Sale attack and moved the ball swiftly up the field starting the Whitchurch counter attacks.

As the legs started to tire Whitchurch used their subs and Ellie McEvoy came on in the midfield and with tireless runs linked up with Nicola Forster in the Sale dee. Whitchurch created many chances and had much of the possession but just couldn’t manage to get the ball in the back of the net despite creating the opportunities. Sale were content to sit back and counterattack on the break forcing sweeper keeper Gwyn Thomas-Rees to accelerate off her line to clear the ball on a number of occasions.

Despite all their efforts Sale were again clinical in the dee and took their two opportunities of the second half. Whitchurch took many positives from the match having competed for long periods of the game and will work hard in training to achieve this level of play over a match and not just short periods.

Whitchurch travel away to Macclesfield for their final league match of the season.

Alderley Edge Ladies 7s 10 Whitchurch Ladies 3’s 0

Whitchurch travelled away to their penultimate game of the season against Alderley Edge. Whitchurch fielded a predominately young team on the pitch but the experience of Alderley Edge starting fast caught Whitchurch off guard scoring their first, closely followed by a short corner giving them a two goal lead.

Holly Gilbert, Caitlin Shaw and Milly Carruthers put up a strong attack against the home team with some excellent interceptions and passes. Unfortunately, Alderley Edge managed to increase the score line and by half time they were ahead by six goals despite some excellent saves by Louise Cottrell in goal.

The second half began with Whitchurch attacking strongly and having a couple of short corners awarded due to errors made by the home team. Unfortunately Whitchurch failed to capitalise on these chances. There was some strong tackling from Laura Workman and Sophie Jones on the left backed up by some excellent defensive play by Annie Leigh and Mel Reid who got player of the match.

On the opposite side of the pitch there was some equally strong tackling and attacking from Mia Spruce, Emily Lister, Wendy Cooper and Jan Teggin. Unfortunately, despite Whitchurch’s fighting spirit to the end the home team took their chances well for an impressive win.

Whitchurch entertain Neston ladies next week in their last match of the season.

Match reports 02/03/18

Bowdon Men’s 5s 5 Whitchurch Men’s 1s 1

Whitchurch travelled to Bowdon this week to play a very strong home team who were looking for revenge for the 4-1 loss to the Reds in the previous fixture, and they applied the pressure from the start. On an overcast afternoon, Bowdon were the first to shine, putting together a number of strong runs and passing the ball well in triangles down both wings giving Airan Jones and Tom Forster much to do throughout the game. With a number of key players unavailable this week, captain Alex Fry dropped back into central defence with James Partington and the back four did their best to repel the onslaught but the pressure told with three early short corners being taken extremely well to put Bowdon 3-0 up. Keeper Gareth Teggin, in his first game for the 1s, had a solid game and blocked a number of shots, but the penalty corner routines themselves were well practiced and executed with strength and speed.

It was in small, key areas that Bowdon were winning; Whitchurch put together a number of fine moves through the middle, with Marcus Conway, Jack Barnes and Sam Conway holding the centre ground well and moving the ball through effectively at times, but the final balls forward weren’t getting through and some of the passes were speculative at best, with Bowdon taking full advantage of any mistakes. Up front, Nick Cooper was a constant threat in the dee, and the Ben Kimberley and Craig Hockenhull were both unlucky not to score with the Bowdon keeper having an excellent game.

The second half was more level for the first 20 minutes as the Reds were able to keep Bowdon out better, with Teggin making some excellent blocks and Forster getting the clearances away, but the pressure told, as twice Bowdon managed to slip their markers from open play with more quick balls, triangles, darting runs and fine shots taking their total to five. A consolation goal came from the sort of play Whitchurch had been able to create in last week’s game against Keele with good movement up the left getting the ball to Hockenhull who laid it off to Cooper who ran across the dee taking the keeper with him before firing in a sublime shot.

Whitchurch stay in sixth in the league with three games to play and will be keen to win next week’s home game against Chester 5s after narrowly losing in the away fixture.

Whitchurch ladies 1s 4 Timperley ladies 4s 0

Whitchurch Ladies 1s played Timperley Ladies 4s at home. After a few hard matches Whitchurch were determined to work hard for a win.

Whitchurch started the first half strong with Catherine Reece-Gresty and Chloe Lloyd defending the Whitchurch goal well from incoming shots from the Timperley players. After a few minutes of battling, Whitchurch were awarded a long corner where Lisa Sullivan drove down the base line and pushed the ball to Ellie Windsor who converted the first goal of the match. Whitchurch continued to work hard with Helen Machin and Captain Catherine Winter-Gresty making some good tackles and passing the ball around the Timperley players. After a lot of strong attacking play, Whitchurch’s efforts were finally rewarded with a second goal which was scored by Hebe Dixon. With Whitchurch’s hopes high, goalkeeper Maddy Sugden made some amazing saves and defender Catherine Reece-Gresty made some great passes to the Whitchurch players clearing the ball from their dee and leaving the score 2-0 at half time.

After the half time break, Whitchurch remained strong with Sophie Ward and Izzy Huxley making some great runs and hits into the Timperley dee where Helena Dannenfeldt was able to score Whitchurch’s third goal of the match. Both teams continued to play well with Jess Caruthers making some great tackles and runs into the Timperley dee. Players Millie Edwards and Izzy Huxley made some good runs and passed the ball around the Timperley players well, managing to get the ball to Hebe Dixon on the base line who crossed the ball into the Timperley dee where Ellie Windsor deflected the ball into the goal for scored her second goal of the game. Timperley made some late breaks, however the final whistle went and the score remained 4-0. Whitchurch player Hebe Dixon received best player.

Next week, Whitchurch ladies 1s will play Wilmslow 3s at home.

Oxton Men’s 5s 7  Whitchurch Men’s 2s 1

After two hockey-free weekends, the Men’s 2s returned to action with a lunchtime push-back at Oxton 5s. The Wirral side had a formidable home record, with most visitors on the end of big defeats, and only 1 goal conceded since September, so this was always going to be a challenge for the Reds. With non-hockey activities having a big impact on player availability on Saturday, the 2s were only able to field 10 players, and 14-year-old Owen Pearce bravely stepped up to play his first senior game in goal.

Whitchurch started the game looking to keep things tight and not be too expansive with their attacking play. Although Oxton dominated possession and territory, they struggled to find a way into the Whitchurch dee and were unable to get any shots at goal. Richard Leigh and Paul Humphries were excellent in midfield, constantly breaking up Oxton’s play and diligently passing the ball out of dangerous areas using David Brunyard and Joe Faithfull to carry the ball into wider areas. Anything that got close to the dee was well dealt with by the defence of Doug Buckeridge, Brendan Coburn and Alex Leigh.

As legs tired and the home side’s frustrations grew, Whitchurch began to find more space going forward. Fred Egerton and Ethan Gresty we’re linking well to provide a threat down the left, and Joe Faithfull and Richard Leigh combined to fire in some dangerous crosses that needed the home keeper to kick clear of the dee. But spaces also began to open up for Oxton’s numerical advantage, and towards the end of the half, the Wirral side won and scored from each of four short corners. Three of the goals were well struck from the edge of the dee, and one poked in at the back post after a series of ricochets off defending sticks and feet.

Although slightly disappointed to be 4-0 down at halftime, Whitchurch could be quite proud of the fact that Oxton hadn’t created any threat to the Reds goal from open play. The challenge for the second half would be to continue the hard work and frustrate Oxton’s superior numbers.

Again in the opening stages of the half, Whitchurch did well to keep Oxton at arm’s length. The home team were looking to overload the Whitchurch defence and did create some half chances in the dee, but when the ball did get close to the goal Owen Pearce did well to narrow angles or kick clear. However, midway through the half, Oxton were fortunate to extend their lead when the ball appeared to be controlled by a foot in the build-up to the goal.

Whitchurch were undeterred. They continued to play their hockey and eventually got their reward as Alex Leigh and Ethan Gresty combined really well down the left, with Ethan crossing to an unmarked Joe Faithfull who swept the ball past the Oxton keeper into the goal.

Oxton added a further two goals late in the game to make the final score 7-1 to the home side but, despite the size of the defeat, Whitchurch should be proud of their efforts. They played a very good side, with a formidable home record and despite being a player short managed to score a really good goal against a team not used to conceding at home.

Richard Leigh & Paul Humphries had to put in a huge amount of work in midfield, Fred Egerton & David Brunyard provided the drive forward, with Joe Faithfull adding width on the right. Joe thoroughly deserved his goal for all of his hard work this season. In the last 2 matches, 4 different players have all scored their first goals in senior hockey for the 2s … a sign of the team’s progression this season.

Brendan Coburn was, again, formidable in defence, but the standout performance came from Alex Leigh in only his second game in senior hockey. His defending was excellent, with his jab tackle constantly breaking up Oxton’s play down the Whitchurch left. But Alex’s calmness in possession and sensible passing enabled Whitchurch to retain the ball even when under pressure from their opponents. The Reds goal stemmed from his excellent interplay with Ethan Gresty.

The 2s next match is a lunchtime fixture away to top-of-the-table Chester 6s.

Bebington ladies 2s 5 Whitchurch ladies 3s 1

Whitchurch started the game well with excellent defending by Mel Reid and Sally Pearce. However, Bebington made a quick run down the middle of the pitch managing to get round all the defenders and put the ball in the goal. Mia Spruce and Emily Lister worked hard, battling to get Whitchurch back in control of the ball however another goal followed soon after the first. Wendy Cooper and Jan Teggin worked hard in the middle delivering some excellent tackles. Despite Whitchurch’s effort, two more goals were scored. With Wendy Cooper injured, Whitchurch needed to come together and work even harder in the second half.

In the second half, several strong attacks were made by Leanne Read, Eliza Brown and Holly Gilbert which finally resulted in a well deserved goal scored by Read. Laura Workman and Kate Buckeridge worked hard on the left wing with multiple attacks made by Laura and good passes into the dee by Caitlin Edwards. Louise Cottrell made some brilliant saves in goal preventing several goals off Bebington’s well rehearsed shot corners. Unfortunately, Bebington scored again making the score 5-1 at the final whistle blew.