Pitch covered with snow again, and no prospect of a thaw! Sorry.
Macclesfield Men’s 3s 5 Whitchurch Men’s 1s 4
Whitchurch returned to action after an extended winter break, having lost three practice sessions to frozen pitches and a game against a team who have since dropped out of the league, and unfortunately it showed against a Macclesfield team at the lower end of the division. A lack of match fitness, and a well-drilled display from Macclesfield, meant that Whitchurch were slow to start, and it cost them as an attack down the right came off Jack Barnes’ foot in front of the goal, and they scored from the subsequent penalty stoke.
The Reds were able to regroup and moved the ball better to recapture some of the simple hockey from the first part of the season, and a drive up the left side-line was crossed by Sam Conway to Nick Cooper who put a simple tap-in away to level the scores. Macclesfield responded quickly, which some good stick skills and quick movement ending in a ball being driven hard into the dee and a striker at the top just laying his stick down for an unstoppable deflection.
Play settled then for large periods, but Whitchurch lacked the finesse on the ball, with first-touches going awry and passes stopping short or getting intercepted, and despite some excellent work by Paul “Sturge” Leigh in goal, Macclesfield were able to grab another from open play, getting through Whitchurch’s defences all too easily. At half-time, with the score line at 1-3, Whitchurch knew they had some work to do in the second half, and Captain Alex Fry’s team-talk was about just improving the basics, and taking more care with the ball.
The second half was much better, with Barnes picking up the ball and driving diagonally across most of the pitch before passing to Conway, who in turn laid it off to Cooper who got his second with another tap-in. His third followed shortly afterwards, with supply from Craig Hockenhull this time. Control and movement were much better, and Tom Forster, Fred Egerton and Ben Kimberley provided width and movement in the Macclesfield half, and Danny Foulkes, Steve Kay, James Partington and Airan Jones held the defence with more composure than in the first half, and confidence was high for a positive result – especially when Alex Fry buried a first-strike from a short corner just past the keeper’s right boot.
However, it was not to be: as Whitchurch tired, Macclesfield attacked, and a drive into the dee bounced off a diving Sturge before the follow-up strike went in. Another drive forward sent a ball towards the Whitchurch dee, bobbling over the outstretched stick of Barnes, who was covering the defence, and was collected and put away by Macclesfield. Despite three consecutive short corners at the final whistle, the Reds just couldn’t find the final touch which would have levelled the scores, and finished agonisingly 4-5 down. Whitchurch are at home next week against Keele University, when they will need to ensure that the basics are back in place for a tough match against a team who drew 3-3 last time in a closely-balanced encounter.
Whitchurch ladies 2s 1 Deeside ladies 4s 1
On Saturday 26th January, Whitchurch ladies 2s played host to Deeside Ramblers 4s, who they drew with at their last meeting. After a run of defeats Whitchurch were up for a win.
After a slow warm up, Whitchurch switched on at the whistle. Captain Emma Clarke chose to run into the wind in the first half, but this didn’t affect the determination of the team from the off. Although Deeside took the first push back, it was easily intercepted by Molly Fry, who drove the ball through the centre of the pitch picking out Becky Brookfield and onto Jess Kimberley who narrowly missed the goal. This was the way Whitchurch were going to play the whole game with attacking determination.
Whitchurch kept up this strong attack for much of the first half Deeside did have a quick break into the Whitchurch dee which goalkeeper Gwyn Thomas-Rees quickly dealt with. The formidable defence of Emma Clarke and Chloe Lloyd were having an effect on the Deeside attack and this led to frustration and Deeside being reduced to ten after comments to the umpires. During this time Whitchurch fought to benefit from Deeside’s reduced numbers, winning a short corner but as with Whitchurch’s luck this season failing to convert.
One of the most effective set plays for Whitchurch took place in the first half, Deeside had a free hit in Whitchurch’s 25, but with Whitchurch marking Deeside had to play backwards to gain any space and time on the ball. Amelie Morris and Phoebe Jones on the right caused the Deeside defence issues throughout the match creating opportunities for the Whitchurch side.
Whitchurch finally took the lead towards the end of the first half from a short corner. Tracy Tolhurst injected to Becky Brookfield at the top of the dee, who struck the ball at goal for Tolhurst to deflect in and give Whitchurch the lead at half time.
After a strong team talk Whitchurch lined up for the second half with the wind and rain behind them. However, Deeside had chance to regroup and came out on the offensive. In a moment of disorganisation by Whitchurch defence Deeside took their opportunity and scored an equalising goal.
This speared Deeside on and only some fine defending by Ellie McEvoy and Beth Wright on the left kept the scores level. Deeside didn’t have it all their way, Whitchurch built up their attack from the back linking moves through Ellie McEvoy, Emily Vernon, Tolhurst and Kimberley into the dee.
Whitchurch had their best opportunity to take the lead when awarded a penalty flick but unfortunately, they failed to capitalise. Deeside pushed a winning goal in the later stages of the match but the defence held strong keeping out a number of shots.
The match ended one all and Whitchurch gave everything to win the point against a strong Deeside team. Player’s player went to Keeper Gwyn Thomas-Rees.
Next week Whitchurch 2s travel to Brooklands.
Whitchurch Men’s 2s 1 Golborne Men’s 3s 1
When Whitchurch travelled to Golborne for their first game of the season, back in September, they ended up on the end of an 8-0 hammering. Although the 2s had some good moments, Golborne were vastly superior that day, so Saturday’s visit to SJT by the Warrington side was going to be a good gauge of how far the young and relatively inexperienced 2s squad had progressed over the course of the season.
That progress was demonstrated early in the first half. After an even opening few minutes, where Golborne has dominated territory and possession but Whitchurch had looked threatening on the counter, Whitchurch opened the scoring with an incisive breakaway goal. Neat passing through midfield found Luke Beddow in good space on the left, his clever pass found Euan Morris in the dee, and as Euan drew the keeper of his line he unselfishly squared the ball for Richard Leigh to fire into the unguarded goal.
Boosted by their early goal, Whitchurch started to dominate the game and spent a lot of time camped in the visitors’ half. Joe Coburn, Paul Humphries, Dave Mitchell-Lane and Pip Jones were providing quality possession in the middle of the pitch and with Luke Beddow and Joe Faithfull stretching the Golborne defence, by taking up good positions on the flanks. As gaps began to appear, the 2s were able to fashion some good shooting chances.
The Warrington side were always a threat on the counterattack and the Whitchurch defenders had to be on their toes. Brendan Coburn did well dealing with the threat down the Golborne left, and Doug Buckeridge and Mark Sugden were stifling any danger coming through the middle of the pitch. The visitors did win a succession of short corners midway through the half, but a combination of Wyn Morris’ brave running and blocks, and some great stops from keeper Gareth Teggin preserved the 1-0 lead until halftime.
The second half was the complete opposite of the first. Following a reshuffle, Golborne took control of the game and Whitchurch found it difficult to maintain possession. Like last week, the Reds really struggled to deal with opposition players picking the ball up deep in their own half and just running straight down the centre of the pitch. The Golborne attacks became more threatening and despite the midfield and wingers, Ethan Gresty and Will Snaith, tracking back to help the defenders, Gareth Teggin was forced to make another couple of excellent stops to preserve the team’s one goal lead.
Whitchurch did have their moments and threatened to increase their lead. Great play from Euan Morris saw him beat the last defender and run clean through on goal, but the keeper made a good stop, and Richard Leigh went close twice at the back post from short corner routines. Alas the home team couldn’t quite fashion that second goal.
Ultimately the failure to extend the lead proved costly. As Whitchurch’s defending became more and more desperate in the closing stages of the match, the visitors won another succession of short corners and despite the dogged defending, a ricochet off a defenders stick fell kindly for Golborne to equalise at the back post.
Both teams then looked to charge forward looking for a late winner and Golborne thought they’d got it with seconds left in the game, but to their annoyance and Whitchurch’s relief the goal was ruled out for a swinging stick in the build-up. The Reds managed to see out the remaining seconds for a satisfying 1-1 draw.
Using the two performances against Golborne as a gauge there has been clear development in the quality of hockey from this team. All of the young players are making valuable contributions, although this week special mentions to Luke Beddow and Joe Faithfull who had excellent games on the wings, providing useful width in attack but also real application to get back and defend when Whitchurch were under pressure. It was also great to welcome Pip Jones back to competitive hockey; his strength and experience really helping the team to take the game to Golborne in the first half and survive the onslaught in the second period.
Next up for the 2s is an away friendly to Sandbach 3s on Saturday 2nd February.
Winnington Park Ladies 2s 2 Whitchurch ladies 1s 8
Both teams got off to a strong start with the first 10 minutes remaining a stale mate with lots of attacking down both ends of the pitch and a few missed opportunities from both sides. Soon though, Whitchurch found an opening with a deflected goal past the keeper from Helena Dannenfeldt. This really motivated Whitchurch with lots of crucial runs through the middle from Lisa Sullivan and lots of strong runs from Ellie Windsor on the wing leading to more chances and soon these paid off with two more goals from Dannenfeldt again in quick succession for her second hattrick in as many matches.
The final 10 minutes of the half Whitchurch began to tire, as they had no subs, meaning Winnington began putting more pressure on our defence but with some strong tackles from Catherine Reece-Gresty and immaculate clearances from Millie Edwards to get rid of the danger leaving the score 3-0 to Whitchurch going into the half-time break.
Whitchurch resumed the game very strongly with lots of attack down the left hand side from Helen Mellor, soon leading to some short corners, one of which was dribbled through the defence by Hebe Dixon for Whitchurch’s 4th of the match.
Whitchurch kept up the momentum with some beautiful runs from Sophie Ward to get on the end of some long balls to drive the attack. This soon led to another goal with Dannenfeldt setting up Dixon for her second. After going 5-0 up, Whitchurch began to lose their heads allowing Winnington to gain some short corners which were well rehearsed, but Edwards and Ward managed to keep the ball out.
Finally, Winnington got their reward after a lapse in concentration by Whitchurch led to a counter attack goal. Whitchurch soon regained focus and, shortly after, Izzy Huxley got rewarded for her brilliant positioning throughout the game with a deflection through the keeper’s legs at the far post. Whitchurch remained strong winning some short corners which eventually led to a goal from captain Cath Gresty to set the scores at 8-1.
In the final few minutes, it was evident that Whitchurch were in need of a fresh pair of legs after a full hour of pretty intense hockey meaning Winnington could gain some valuable corners. Although some great shots were kept out with more killer saves from keeper Maddy Sugden, one managed to slip past the defenders putting the final score at 8-2. This is a great and crucial win for Whitchurch and player of the match was awarded to Helena Dannenfeldt.
Whitchurch ladies 3s 0 Eirias Ladies 1’s 10
Whitchurch had fielded a strong team and against the run-away league leaders who had scored 100+ goals in the league before Christmas. Having lost to them away 0-9 earlier in the season, Whitchurch were hopeful to get a closer score line this time as they had travelled to Whitchurch. However, Eirias broke quickly with fast, hard hitting passes which despite the valiant defence of Emily Hilton, Wendy Cooper and Emily Lister, they managed to score three quick goals in the first 15 minutes.
It was the first time Whitchurch had started a match in the rain this season and we were soon soaked to the skin but at least this week Louise Cottrell in goal was kept busy and was warm! Caitlin Edwards, Gwyn Thomas-Rees and Edina Jones linked up well on the right-hand side driving forward and tracking back well to help the defence. Nikki Foster made some excellent runs down the middle picking up some hard-hit outs by Emily Hilton, both attempting to get the ball to Annie Buckeridge in the dee but unfortunately the supporting attack couldn’t get there fast enough to help her out. Eirias were very fast on the counter attack and managed to score another 4 goals making the score 0-7 to the away team at half time.
After a rousing team talk by captain Wendy Cooper at half time, Whitchurch started quickly, and Kate Buckeridge tried to use the waterlogged pitch to her advantage hoping no one would follow her into the puddles on the left wing and managed to get a few passes to Laura Workman near the dee but Eirias were fast to clear the ball to their waiting attacking players.
Despite some magnificent saves by Louise Cottrell and brave tackling in the dee, Eiras managed to score a further 3 goals bringing the final score to 0-10.
The umpires decided that the game should be abandoned 20 minutes into the 2nd half due to the waterlogged pitch but enough of the game was played for the result to stand.
Although Whitchurch were sad to lose by double figures they did ourselves proud by running to the point of exhaustion in very tricky conditions. Emily Lister was nominated ‘Players player’.
Pitch is snow-bound and doesn’t look likely to become playable – sorry all!
Runcorn ladies 2s 5 Whitchurch ladies 2s 0
Whitchurch travelled away to play Runcorn 2s. In spite of the extremely cold weather, Whitchurch were in high spirits and determined for success.
Whitchurch had a strong start with some very secure crosses into the Runcorn dee from Holly Gilbert and Tracy Tolhurst. These crosses were unfortunately stopped by the well-built Runcorn defence denying Whitchurch the chance of getting an early lead. Despite Whitchurch’s strong attack Runcorn managed to gain possession and after some well rehearsed play Runcorn slipped the ball into the goal. Whitchurch continued to battle hard but two more goals made their way through the defence. More strong attacks saw Jess Kimberly and Amelia Morris having some shots on goal. Somehow all shots either narrowly missed the goal or were cleared away by the Runcorn defence. Regardless of Whitchurch’s best efforts to keep Runcorn at bay, they managed to obtain another goal from a powerful hit at the top of the dee, leaving the score at 4-0 for half time.
After the half time break Whitchurch came back strong and began the second half with Phoebe Jones, Megan Brunyard and Ellie McEvoy making marvellous runs up the sides of the pitch. This allowed the attacking players to receive the ball in the Runcorn dee but were yet again denied the desired result. Captain Emma Clarke, Chloe Lloyd and Martha Teggin stopped multiple crossed into the Whitchurch dee. Runcorn became frustrated due to Whitchurch goalkeeper, Molly Fry, making numerous fantastic saves.
Both teams continued to battle hard throughout the second half, but unlucky for Whitchurch, Runcorn did score one final goal, which was tactically slipped in at the back post. The final whistle went with the score at 5-0 to Runcorn.
Whitchurch ladies 1s 6 Oswestry ladies 1s 1
Whitchurch ladies 1s entertained Oswestry 1s this Saturday with a determination to win, after losing against them in the first half of the season due to having 10 players. Whitchurch ladies came out strong with plenty of possession and passing well throughout the team. The first goal came quickly from the captain Catherine Winter-Gresty slotting the ball into the left corner. Oswestry fought hard to equalise, but keeper Maddy Sugden saved everything they shot at her. Hebe Dixon and Lisa Sullivan worked together up the middle to pick out the captain to score their second.
Ellie Windsor and Stephanie Stanton kept the ball high giving Whitchurch plenty more chances and shots but Oswestry were holding back. A change round of positions at the front gave Helena Dannenfeldt the chance to play a great shot into the net giving Whitchurch a 3-0 lead. As Whitchurch tired they lost concentration allowing Oswestry a break and to score.
Defence Gayle Ladd and Catherine Reece-Gresty held off a couple more breaks but Whitchurch then picked up their game, with Lisa Sullivan very calmly taking the ball right into the dee and scoring. Watching Oswestry’s heads lower, Helena Dannenfeldt then scored two more goals in quick succession before half time.
Whitchurch caught their breath and started the second half as the first. Oswestry attacked hard up the middle but were stopped in their tracks by Whitchurch defence. There was a lot of play in the Whitchurch end as Oswestry were out to score another as Whitchurch had more of a defensive second half. Tense moments for Whitchurch as Oswestry had a run of short corners, but Millie Edwards and Gayle Ladd got the ball away and back up the pitch towards Helen Mellor and Izzy Huxley. Whitchurch calmed and slowed the game until the whistle went. A happy Whitchurch walked away with a 6-1 win and second in Division 3. Helena Dannenfeldt was awarded player of the match.
Ladies 1s play away against Winnington Park next week.
Golborne Ladies 3s 1 Whitchurch Ladies 3s 9
Whitchurch travelled the North to play Golborne week following a heavy defeat last week. Despite illness of several players Whitchurch managed to take a full team thanks to Laura Workman who stepped in at the last minute and went on to become well deserved player of the match.
In the first half Whitchurch attacked strongly and were rewarded with an early goal from Sue Read. This inspired Golborne to increase their attacks but were stopped time and again by defender Mel Reid.
Caitlin Edwards attacked on the right with some excellent supporting tackles from Caitlin Shaw. Nikki Forster attacked hard and was rewarded with a short corner which she dually converted to put Whitchurch two up. Golborne made a break and scored on the rebound after several attempts. Another goal for Sue Read saw Whitchurch go into the break 3-1 up.
After a breather and half time talk, Whitchurch dominated the second half with excellent runs and attacks from Annie Buckeridge who passed to Sue Read in the dee for her third. Kate Buckeridge played hard in all areas of the midfield sending the ball towards Whitchurch attackers who optimised in these passes and scored several more goals. Emily Lister worked hard at the back by defending hard and giving strong support to the midfield. During the second half Louise Cottrell in goal was getting cold due to Whitchurch strong attack; however she also made some excellent saves. Our captain Wendy Cooper kept the midfield strong down the centre of the pitch providing passes for Whitchurch for Nikki Forster to complete her hattrick, Sue Read to score another brace and Laura Workman to complete the scoring.
Sue Read also reached a milestone mark of scoring 100+ goals in the Cheshire league.
Bebington Men’s 4s 5 Whitchurch Men’s 2s 0
Following the break in the league fixtures over Christmas and the loss of two training sessions to the weather, Whitchurch Men’s 2s travelled to Bebington 4s having not played any hockey for 6 weeks. Buoyed by their win in the last fixture before Christmas and with a full squad of 16, the team were hopeful for a competitive performance against their Wirral-based opponents.
Whitchurch started brightly. They moved the ball well through midfield but Bebington were strong in defence and the Reds struggled to get any meaningful possession in the attacking dee. As moves broke down, the home side were quick to launch counter-attacks and the Reds defence of Doug Buckeridge, Brendan Coburn, Mark Sugden and Wyn Morris had to work hard to clear their lines.
Aided by the ability to roll subs in midfield, Whitchurch were putting in a lot of effort to close down space in the middle of the pitch. Joe Coburn, David Brunyard, Will Snaith and Richard Leigh were strong in the tackle, with Joe and David then driving forward to link up with Euan Morris up front, and Luke Beddow and Ethan Gresty on the wings.
Midway through the first half Bebington exerted some pressure on the Reds and won a succession of short corners. The defenders worked hard to restrict the shots but keeper Gareth Teggin produced a number of excellent saves to high drag flicks to keep the scores level. Eventually Bebington’s pressure produced the first goal of the game. A home player escaped in the dee and was able to force the ball across goal where a teammate was able to bundle the ball over the line.
Whitchurch responded by pushing forward and creating half chances to equalise. Paul Humphries and Richard Leigh were able to control possession around the Bebington dee and thread passes towards the attackers, but the sheer number of players in the dee meant that Whitchurch could never get a clear sight of goal. A neat passing move down the left between Jacob Buckeridge, Joe Coburn and Euan Morris did bring the first save from the Bebington keeper.
Despite being a goal down at halftime, Whitchurch were quite pleased with their efforts and were looking to continue the hard work in the second half. However Bebington had other ideas …
Whitchurch continued to work hard in the second half and enjoyed lots of territory and possession, but they were simply unable to deal with the direct running through the centre of the pitch by the Bebington No.11 on the counterattack. As attacks broke down he continually found himself ahead of most of the Whitchurch midfield and able to drive with pace and power at the heart of the Reds defence. This resulted in a host of chances for Bebington to increase their lead, which duly did.
The defence, the retreating midfield and keeper Teggin did well to keep the ball away from the goal, with some last-ditch tackles, clearances and good saves, but Bebington added a further four goals in the second half through these counterattacks and short corners.
Despite the threat from Bebington, Whitchurch continued to push forward and Euan Morris had a number of efforts well saved by the Bebington keeper, having been well found by passes from James Page and Jacob Buckeridge on the left wing. Euan was also close to getting his stick onto a dangerous cross into the dee, but try as they might Whitchurch just couldn’t create that clear goal scoring chance, or indeed a short corner.
Ultimately Bebington were good value for their win. They had the best player on the pitch and that was the big difference in the second half. Whitchurch battled valiantly and never gave up, but the 6-week break from hockey became more evident as the second half wore on with passes being under hit or going astray, which invited the Bebington counterattacks.
The 2s entertain Golborne 3s at SJT on Saturday 26th January in their next match, after hopefully a good training session on Wednesday.