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.