Announcement: Club Hockey in England suspended until after 4 December

England Hockey Championships - Indian Gymkhana vs Stourport

England Hockey are disappointed to have to confirm that the national lockdown announced on Saturday will mean no club or community hockey from 5 November until after 4 December at the earliest.
The latest government announcement orders all sports facilities to close and therefore club and other community hockey activity is suspended until the game is in a position to resume.
Over the last few months all those involved in delivering hockey safely have helped to prove that the sport is extremely low risk in terms of the transmission of Covid and this gives us confidence that we can be back soon. We are very grateful to all the Covid officers, volunteers, players, coaches and officials that went the extra mile to provide a safe place for hockey to be played.
At England Hockey we continue to receive overwhelming feedback from participants that the physical and mental health benefits of being able to take part are significant. We recognise that the next few weeks will be challenging for those like us that love the game and will miss the opportunity to be out playing, coaching and officiating with friends.
The government announcement made reference to returning to the Covid Alert Levels after the end of this period of lockdown, and should that be the case we are confident that clubs will be able to resume promptly in line with our previously-issued Return to Play guidance. If it becomes clearer in time that the lockdown will end on 4 December we encourage clubs to consider resuming some activity before Christmas if at all possible. To mitigate the risk of changes and with the uncertainty about what Level the club may be in at the end of this period, we recommend that the time until Christmas is used for training and very local matches. The aim of this is to ensure that activities fall in line with any Level-based restrictions that may be in place.
It will take time to determine the best approach to reorganising activity and we ask that players and clubs respect the need for organisers to consider the next steps properly in light of the timing and extent of the upcoming break.
England Hockey will communicate with all clubs, England Hockey League teams and EH Championships entrants as well as Player Pathway organisers in the coming days.

Match reports 24-10-20

Whitchurch Men’s 1s 0 – Deeside Ramblers XI 2

With the North West Hockey League being heavily affected by Tier 3 lockdowns, very few matches could go ahead as planned this weekend, but Deeside Ramblers came to Whitchurch for a friendly with a squad of players from a spread of their teams – as high as their 2s, as well as teams from the Reds’ own league – so Whitchurch knew they would have a strong battle on their hands.

As has been the case on a number of occasions, Whitchurch seem to play better against better opposition, and this match was a prime example: to a man, everyone stepped up and faced the challenge ahead with confidence and composure, and it worked. For large periods of the game, Whitchurch had the game under control; they passed the ball with some sublime one-touch play out from the back, up the wings and into the Deeside dee. Passes went to their targets, tackles and re-tackles and tackling again to get the ball back meant that they were never under the cosh, despite some excellent play by Deeside. The only thing they lacked was the final touch to get the ball into the net, but they came close on several occasions.

At the back, Paul “Sturge” Leigh had his usual strong game, keeping the ball out despite heavy pressure in the Reds’ dee as Deeside ploughed in in numbers. Danny Foulkes was composed and confident at the centre, spreading the ball out wide, or finding the incisive bullet up the middle if the opportunity presented itself. Sam Conway ran and ran and ran, ensuring there was always a decent option out wide on the right. James Partington got some good tackles in, and a block that took a shot up onto the crossbar. Ross Gill, playing sweeper in front of the defence, controlled that area of the pitch calmly, releasing pass after excellent pass to keep the play going in the right direction.

Jack Barnes and Joel Leese were the bedrock of the midfield, working well off each other, to move the ball in triangles up the pitch, or to carry the ball if there was space, putting great pressure on the Deeside defence. Tom Forster and Fred Egerton rotated well on the left wing, pushing forward and getting crosses in, and Chris Ruscoe had his usual dominant game on the right, playing in both dees – either putting a great pass or shot in at the far end, or racing back to make a critical block in the Reds’ own dee.

Will Gilbert, Sam Budd and Martin Beecher were constantly at the Deeside defence, giving them no time to settle, and Whitchurch had a number of shots either well-saved, or slightly wide of the goal, including an excellent attempt at a deflection shot from Budd, and on another day would have scored many.

Despite the Reds’ constant good marking, quick ball movement, cutting out opposition passes, chasing back when the ball was lost, and a constant team effort, Deeside were able to score two goals. The first was a really well-worked piece of play, driving down the middle in triangles before passing it to the incoming striker at the top of the dee who was able to fire it up into the net. In the second half, a good run into the dee by Finn Leonard for Deeside was passed to the penalty spot, and the shot was scooped over a diving Sturge.

In the end, a fair result, but Whitchurch can take a huge amount from this game. Had they played at this level in the two previous games this season, there’s no way they would have suffered losses. The challenge is to find this performance week-in, week-out and, if they do, the rewards will come.

Whitchurch ladies 1s 5 Macclesfield ladies 2s 0

Whitchurch came up against a 16 strong Macclesfield side this Saturday, but held their own with 12 players.

Centre players Lisa Sullivan, Hebe Dixon and Captain Catherine Winter-Gresty pushed from the off, holding the ball in Macclesfield’s half. Forwards Ellie Windsor and Stephanie Stanton put plenty of pressure on and within ten minutes Whitchurch were awarded a penalty flick that Dixon calmly slotted into the goal.

Macclesfield fought back, but Whitchurch defence Chloe Lloyd and Kezzie Hutchings were hot on their every move. Plenty of chances came for Whitchurch and eventually a shot in from Catherine Winter-Gresty was deflected to score their second by Ellie Windsor.

Whitchurch were keeping possession and passing the ball round well, tiring the fresh Macclesfield legs that were being subbed regularly. Keeper Maddy Sugden made some great saves again when Macclesfield had a couple of lucky breaks, but they couldn’t get on the score sheet. Before half time Sarah Field scored through the keepers legs, making it 3-0 before the second half.

Even though Whitchurch were comfortably in the lead the second half started a bit panicked, but before long they settled back playing their game, Hayleigh Busby picking out Hebe Dixon to score her second.

Whitchurch won several short corners, allowing Sarah Field to make it 5-0.

Well in front and Whitchurch kept possession as much as possible, using the width of Anna Latham and Molly Fry, pushing up length of the pitch. Whitchurch played hard up until the final whistle and were very happy with the result.

Hebe Dixon was awarded players player.

Deeside Ramblers Men’s 6s  Whitchurch 2s Men’s 1

With the coronavirus rules and restrictions playing havoc with the league fixtures, Deeside Ramblers and Whitchurch Men’s 2s had played out an entertaining friendly at SJT the previous weekend. Although the game had finished 1-1, Whitchurch had dominated most of the game, but were thwarted by the excellent Ramblers keeper.

One week on and the two clubs played again, fulfilling the scheduled league fixture. Whilst Deeside were able to bring in some of their more experienced players, Whitchurch once again lost two key players due to enforced self-isolation.

Deeside took control of the match from the first pushback. They retained possession well and moved Whitchurch across the pitch, whilst probing for openings. Despite their control, the home side struggled to get into the Whitchurch dee. Brendan Coburn and Wyn Morris were imperious in the centre of defence, but the midfield were working hard to plug any gaps and harry the Deeside players.

Whitchurch weathered the early storm and managed to work their way into the game. As they got more of the ball, Ethan Gresty, Richard Leigh and Alex Leigh began to put together some neat passing moves, and with good support from Jacob Buckeridge, Dave Brunyard and Joe Faithfull on the wings, Whitchurch started to threaten the home sides dee.

The 2s were especially dangerous on the counterattack. As Deeside continued to dominate territory, Whitchurch were quick to attack when they won the ball, and midway through the first half, Ethan Gresty surged through the centre of the pitch and played an excellent through ball for Airan Jones to race clear of the Deeside defenders and calmly flick past the on-rushing keeper.

With Deeside knocked out of their stride, Whitchurch went close to increasing their lead. Euan Morris had a number of chances that flashed wide, were saved by the Deeside keeper, or scrambled clear by the defenders, but the closest the Reds came to doubling the lead was from an Ethan Gresty shot that came back off the post, following good link up play with Joe Faithfull.

Throughout the half, the home side had concentrated their attacking efforts down their right hand side. Will Snaith and Wyn Morris had continually repelled these attacks, but as the Whitchurch defence was pulled across the pitch, Gareth Teggin and Doug Buckeridge had to be wary of attackers arriving at the back post. Moments before half time the Deeside tactic paid dividends as the ball flashed across the face of the Whitchurch goal and the attacker was able to steer the ball inside the post for the equalising goal.

After the break, Deeside stepped up their intensity and Whitchurch struggled to deal with the increase in physicality. With so many young players the 2s were simply overpowered, and the home side dominated possession and territory for much of the second half. When moves broke down, they were quick to harass the Whitchurch players, who struggled to keep hold of the ball and find their passes.

The away side did manufacture a handful of chances, but nothing of the quality of the first half. Instead the Whitchurch midfield was fully employed helping out the defence. The team defended resolutely, and at times rode their luck. Keeper Neil Jones made some good saves and clearing kicks. But eventually Deeside’s pressure paid dividends.

A goalmouth scramble needed Jones to make several close range stops as defenders and attackers hacked at the ball. As the ball escaped Jones’s grasp, Doug Buckeridge was on hand to clear off the line, however, the umpire decided the ball had crossed the goal line and awarded Deeside the goal and the lead. Whitchurch weren’t happy with the decision and discipline slipped. Words were exchanged which lead to a Whitchurch player taking a two-minute sin bin, and Deeside were quick to capitalise on their man advantage. A series of short corners were won, and Deeside extended their lead when a mis-hit, bouncing shot crept inside the post.

Whitchurch regained their composure and pushed for a consolation goal, but Deeside were happy to contain the away side and preserve their 3-1 lead.

This was another reality check for Whitchurch in their new division. They enjoyed some good spells of play and looked particularly dangerous in the first half. However, as in the Birkenhead game, the sheer physicality of their opponents eventually overwhelmed the young players. Jacob Buckeridge and Will Snaith played well down the left, Ethan Gresty had another excellent game in midfield, and the defence generally played really well.

Subject to changing Covid regulations, the Men’s 2s next game will be at home to Neston Men’s 7s on Saturday 31st October.

Watch GB v Netherlands Free on BT sport Tuesday 27th October

Match reports 17/10/20

With the Men’s 1s having no game and the 2s postponed due to COVID travel restrictions it was left to the ladies this weekend.

Warrington ladies 1s 3 Whitchurch ladies 1s 4

The ladies 1s travelled away to play Warrington 1s this Saturday in what turned out to be an equal sided game.  Whitchurch started play with great control and passing around the Warrington players having majority of the play. Any possession was quickly intercepted by Anna Latham and Sophie Ward. The reds quickly won a short corner, Hebe Dixon and Sarah Field passing accurately to each other several times for Field to score.

Warrington fought back with a goal from a short corner too. Then it was back to Whitchurch with Kezzie Hutchings and Chloe Lloyd pushing hard up the pitch for captain Catherine Winter-Gresty to drive the base line and fire into Sarah Field who calmly slot past the keeper. Warrington before the half time whistle scored again from a well-practiced short corner.

Half time 2-2, a quick rest a team talk and Whitchurch set up as the start, Izzy Huxley and Stephanie Stanton collecting passes high up the pitch, keeping plenty of play in the Warrington half, Hayleigh Busby received the ball from Dixon and picked out Field for their third. Keeper Maddy Sugden had her work cut out saving many shots as again Warrington pushed forward and scored a third goal from open play.

Whitchurch needed this win and continued to have some great movement up the pitch, a last push for Whitchurch as Millie Edwards passed down the pitch to Sophie Ward who scored their winning goal.

A relief for Whitchurch as the whistle went for a 4-3 win.

Timperley ladies 6s 5 Whitchurch ladies 3s 0

Whitchurch travelled to Altrincham to face a newly formed Timperley team who are currently undefeated and top of the table. They had some very experienced players but Whitchurch held their own with some driving attacks led by centre forward Annie Buckeridge and Amelie Morris at right inner. Kate Buckeridge struggled at left inner to get the ball to Sasha Preece running down the left wing due to the superb pressure from the Timperley defence but the Whitchurch halves, Eryn Cookson on the left, Jan Teggin on the right and Nicky Barber in the centre proved equal to the task firing the ball back into the attacking dee for the forwards to run onto.

In defence, Tabitha Leonard on the right and Emily Lister on the left did a sterling job clearing the Timperley attacks and were backed up by the superb keeping skills of Louise Cottrell who denied some hard strikes of the ball in the Whitchurch dee with both stick and feet. Bella Morris and Heidi Carr linked up well holding the ball on the right supported by some superb tackling and passes from Teggin but after 15 minutes the pressure proved too great and Timperley eventually broke free and scored a good unstoppable goal tight on the left post.

Undeterred by going a goal down, Barber and Cookson tackled hard and prevented many more attacks feeding Buckeridge’s and Morris’s alike through the middle. Unfortunately, Timperley broke free after 10 minutes and scored another scrappy goal despite the sprawling attempts of Cottrell to save it. So stretched was she that she literally fell apart and it took a few minutes and some help to be put back together. This 2nd goal gave Timperley confidence and they went on to score another well-orchestrated hard hit goal shortly before half time, leaving the score 3 – 0.

The second half saw equal possession between the two teams and Whitchurch won a few short corners spurred on from the rousing cheering from the travelling ‘Leonard support team’. Timperley proved very experienced in their defence and tackling skills denying Whitchurch several shots on goal. Barber and Cookson were relentless in their tackles and determination to be first to the ball in midfield allowing Whitchurch to drive through the middle and giving Morris a fine hit right on the edge of the dee into the Timperley goal. This caused debate between umpires whether it was touched by a Whitchurch player inside the dee but unfortunately the goal was ruled out. An injury to a Timperley player unsettled the Whitchurch attack and they drove through the middle to gain a 4th goal against the run of play.

At the final pushback, Annie Buckeridge showed excellent stick skills turning and running forward through the tight Timperley defence linking with both Morris sisters before running into the Timperley dee. Once one on one with the keeper she narrowly missed a link up pass to the right to Bella Morris. Carr showed great tenacity on the left getting ahead of the Timperley players and linking up passes with Morris and Cookson but Timperley drove forward and Kate Buckeridge unluckily conceded a short corner with a kick on the edge of the dee resulting in a fifth goal for Timperley. The last 10 minutes of the game saw most of the possession with Whitchurch and it was felt that a goal would come in time but for the final whistle preventing further play. A valiant effort by all players and making their captain Teggin very proud.

Player’s player was Amelie Morris.


Whitchurch ladies 2s 3 Alderley Edge ladies 7s 4

Buoyed on by their success travelling to Macclesfield last week, Whitchurch ladies 2s were looking forward to taking on newly demoted Alderley Edge. With an extremely depleted team, Whitchurch took to the pitch with no keeper and no subs, what we did have was a team who were willing to pull together and support each other.

Head Coach Alex Fry was on hand to advise player positions, lining the team up in a strong attacking formation. Defenders Emma Clarke and Catherine Reece-Gresty pushed forward squashing the Alderley Edge players into their half, with Jess Kimberley sweeping any balls which made it through. Whitchurch started strong, with three short corners in the first 5 minutes and were unlucky not to convert them.

Whitchurch kept up constant pressure in Alderley Edge with Molly Fry in middle playing the ball through to her sister Amy Fry who interacted with Ellie Pearson all showing their skills and precision passing. When Alderley Edge were able to make a break against play, they were stopped by halves Holly Gilbert and Ellie Windsor, but managed to secure a short corner. Whitchurch have a good reputation for defending short corners, but without a keeper Alderley Edge were able to slot the ball through the Whitchurch players feet and score their first goal.

Whitchurch did not let their heads go down, keeping the pressure up using the left side of the pitch with Tracey Pearson and Amelie Morris playing confidently in their regular positions working well with Nicola Forster up front. Alderley Edge made sure Whitchurch’s defence were put under pressure constantly, but the ball was kept well away from Whitchurch’s dee. Unfortunately the youthful legs of Alderley Edge proved too much for Whitchurch and they scored their second on a speedy break against play. Again Whitchurch refused to lie down. And it wasn’t long until they were finally rewarded for their efforts, Tracey Tolhurst reversed the ball to Ellie Pearson on the post and she put it in.

The second goal came shortly before the half time whistle from a short corner, scored by Nicola Forster which was slipped left from the top of the dee.
Our half time talk was supported by coach Alex, who helped with our technique. The whole team was exhausted but believed we could still win.

Unfortunately, the second half proved too much for Whitchurch, with Alderley Edge having three subs and a keeper we were under constant pressure. The team worked hard keeping the ball in the Alderley Edge half as much as possible but they knew the Whitchurch team were flagging and time took its toll, with two more goals being score by Alderley Edge early in the second half.

But there was no way Whitchurch was going to roll over, 5 minutes before the end of the match Molly Fry lead another break down the centre of the pitch, passing to Nicola Forster who swept past the keeper and slotted Whitchurch’s third goal of the match.

Even though we were exhausted Whitchurch pushed back at Alderley Edge chasing the draw, unfortunately it was not to be. The final whistle went and Whitchurch lost 3-4 to Alderley Edge.
Next week the ladies 2s travel to Sale.

Senior, Junior and Academy hockey in North Shropshire