Match reports 17/11/18

Neston Men’s 5s 1 Whitchurch Men’s 1s 1

Whitchurch travelled away for the second week in a row, this time to play Neston who were only a couple of places and points below them in the league at the start of the day. Whitchurch went with a strong team, but still missing several key players, so knew that they would have to play well for each other and build on the second-half performances from previous matches.

Neston started well and immediately applied a high press to put the Reds under pressure. They made number of good runs and lacked only a final touch to grab an early goal, but the Whitchurch defence settled and started to mark tighter and pick up their runners. Danny Foulkes again provided stability at the back and he, Airan Jones and James Partington were supported this week by Tom Forster, dropping back from his usual roles further up the field to provide strength on the right both tracking back and driving forward.

In the middle, Alex Fry returned to control the centre with Jack Barnes and Craig Hockenhull providing support out wide, and Fred Egerton, Sam Conway, Nick Cooper and Ben Kimberley applied pressure on the Neston defence in a well-balanced first half. While again some of the passing didn’t quite come off, the standard this week from the Reds was much higher: runs off the ball were made and passes got through; balls into the dee were used well rather than spurned and the teamwork was far better.

However, it was Neston who went ahead first, after sustained pressure caused the defence problems with Paul “Sturge” Leigh called on in goal to make several critical saves. They got several short corners, and eventually one paid off with the ball going over a diving keeper. The Reds’ heads didn’t drop, though, and the rest of the half was even and competitive with chances at either end.

The half-time talk this week was essentially “more of the same” as the Reds knew they were doing the basics well and that the game would come to them. The second half was another tight affair, but instead of tiring as time passed, Whitchurch started to apply better pressure on the ball carriers with players combining to ensure the ball was won, or at least that Neston had to go backwards. This led to the Reds having more of the ball, and while some passes were getting cut out, the creativity and confidence meant that it was only a matter of time before an equalizer. It came from some excellent thinking from Hockenhull to take a free hit near the Neston dee quickly, and then lay off a simple pass to Cooper who spun and buried the ball in the Neston goal.

The rest of the half played out with both teams making a combination of strong attacks and simple mistakes, but the momentum was with Whitchurch and at the final whistle, the draw was a fair result but one that gives the Reds a lot of confidence to take on to their home game against Bowden Men’s 5s next week. Whitchurch stay third in the league, level on points with Bowden, but ahead on goal difference.

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

The Men’s 2s welcomed high flying Chester 6s to SJT on Saturday. Although able to field a squad of fourteen players, all the “proper” hockey players were seconded into the first team leaving the 2s with their most inexperienced side so far this season – nine of the squad being 15 or under, and the five adults all being products of the “Back-to-Hockey” initiative over the past few years.

After being “out of the game” before half-time in their previous two matches, Whitchurch set out with a game plan to avoid being four or five goals down by halftime. The young forwards and midfield players were encouraged to think more about what was behind them, rather than stay forward looking for goals and the team would set up with a defensive midfielder to screen the defence.

For large parts of the first half the plan worked brilliantly. Although Chester took the lead, midway through the half, from a short corner that was initially well stopped by Gareth Teggin in goal, Chester found chances hard to come by. Paul Humphries was excellent in the deep midfield role and was ably assisted in screening the defence by Joe’s Faithfull and Coburn breaking up play in the Chester

The Whitchurch defenders, Wyn Morris, Richard Leigh, Doug Buckeridge and Brendan Coburn backed up the midfield and put in a succession of good tackles and interceptions to thwart the Chester attackers. Chester did have the majority of possession and territory during the first half, but Whitchurch were able to provide a threat of their own on the counterattack. With forward Euan Morris playing a much deeper role to help the midfield, the 2s were forced to work their way up the pitch with short passes rather than long hopeful balls, which they did well when the opportunities arose.

Ethan Gresty and Sam Appleby combined well with Euan Morris to create attacks down the right flank, and Euan linked well with Joe Coburn and Luke Beddow to provide threat down the left. With Jacob Buckeridge and James Page also finding good positions in the dee, chances were created, but shots were stopped well by the Chester keeper, or good crosses just evaded the finishing touch from
a Whitchurch stick.

After an excellent first half the 2s suffered two significant blows just before the halftime whistle. It was a frustrating to concede a second goal from a well-worked short corner routine with the last play of the half but losing Paul Humphries to injury had a real impact on the match. At only 2-0 down, Whitchurch had (sort of) achieved what they’d set out to do by staying in the game. However, Chester’s much more experienced side ruthlessly exploited Humphries absence in
the second half. The younger players were unable to offer the same protection to the defence and Chester began to be more of a threat in the Whitchurch dee.

The defenders still performed admirably, but the ball was now coming straight back into the dee and Chester piled on the goals to go 6-0 up. Undeterred, Whitchurch went on the offensive. Wyn Morris somehow found himself in the Chester
dee and shot wide …. although his son, Euan, claims he was free if he’d passed! Joe Coburn hit a post from a short corner and Jacob Buckeridge had a reverse stick shot cleared off the line in the dying moments of the game.

Ultimately it was another heavy defeat for the 2s, but once again there were positives to take. With Paul Humphries screening the defence in the first half, Whitchurch were much more solid in defence. Certainly, Paul’s absence in the second half had a big impact both in terms of his own play, but also the influence he was having on the younger players in midfield. That said, the young lads all
had good games, and the short passing to move up the pitch to create chances was great to see, and something we need to see more of this season.

Next week the Men’s 2s travel to Denbigh 2s.

Triton ladies 2s 0 Whitchurch ladies 1s 5

Whitchurch ladies 1s travelled to Alsager this week to play their second game against Triton 2s. The game started well for Whitchurch after constant pressure from forwards Stephanie Stanton, Jessica Carruthers and Ellie Windsor, Millie Edwards slotted the ball into the bottom corner for their first goal. Continuing their attack, Whitchurch started a run of short corners, with Emma Harper scoring a brilliant goal from their well-practiced sequence. Towards the end of the first half, Hebe Dixon made a run into the dee before scoring off a deflection from the keeper.

The second half continued much the same with majority of the game in the Triton half, with Triton only having a couple of breaks which were picked up quickly by Harper and Catherine Reece-Gresty. Whitchurch passed the ball around Triton and scored two goals in quick succession. The first came from Ellie Windsor, bagging a goal off another deflection from Hebe Dixon’s reverse strike, then another goal was scored by Stephanie Stanton who tapped in a wonderful ball from Windsor on the top of the dee.

Sophie Ward and Martha Teggin contributed to the quick passes up and down each side of the pitch. In the final quarter, the Whitchurch defence were finally called in for some action as Triton began to push up the pitch. The strong defence made up of Catherine Reece-Gresty, Emma Harper and Maddy Sugden in goal, managed to clear the ball.

More amazing play from Captain Catherine Winter-Gresty, Lisa Sullivan and Katie Leicester in the centre held Triton off to the whistle as all were starting to tire. Final score was 5-0 to Whitchurch. Players player was awarded to Catherine Winter-Gresty.

Ladies 1s play at home next week against Lymm

Whitchurch Ladies 3s 2 Sandbach Ladies 2s 0

Whitchurch ladies took to the pitch full of enthusiasm after last week’s win. After winning first push back, they attacked strongly from the start. Sandbach fought back with equal enthusiasm. A very balanced first half saw strong attacks from Sandbach which were defended well by Whitchurch defenders Jan Teggin and Gayle Ladd. Sandbach had a shot on goal which was deflected back up the pitch by keeper Beth Wright who made her debut appearance for Whitchurch.

Annie Buckeridge made some excellent runs to pick up some long balls from Emily Lister and Annie Leigh in Whitchurch’s mid field. Just before half time Whitchurch were awarded a short corner. This was injected by Wendy Cooper to Gayle Ladd who scored putting Whitchurch 1-0 ahead at half time.

After a positive half time talk, Whitchurch attacked from the whistle. Sandbach had some strong attacks but found themselves battling against Whitchurch midfield and defence every time. Kate Buckeridge and Phoebe Jones worked hard on the left getting the ball up to the dee. After another short corner there was a scuffle in front of the goal and Whitchurch attempted to score but the Sandbach keeper defended and deflected the ball.

Caitlin Shaw and Mia Spruce then took the ball up the right wing passing it to Gayle Ladd to put the ball into the back of the net putting Whitchurch 2-0 ahead and giving Gayle the well-earned player of the match.

Whitchurch ladies 2s 1 Wrexham ladies 2s 8

Whitchurch had to play a mainly defensive game for long periods but there was still some bright moments with some good runs through the middle of the pitch from Becky Brookfield, Izzy Huxley and Tracy Tolhurst.

Whitchurch had their best chance of the half breaking down the left side of the pitch through Helen Mellor and Tracy Tolhurst who picked out Edina Jones in the dee but an excellent save from the Wrexham keeper prevented any celebration.

Jess Kimberley, Emma Clarke, Helen Mellor and Chloe Lloyd worked tirelessly in defence to keep Wrexham at bay but Wrexham finally slipped through the cracks of the Whitchurch defence and slipped the ball past the advancing Whitchurch goal keeper Gwyn Thomas-Rees and give Wrexham the lead to bring the score up to 0-1 to Wrexham.

Wrexham then slotted another two more into the Whitchurch goal before the half time whistle.

Whitchurch regrouped at half time and started to settle allowing them more possession and to slowly move the ball further up the pitch with the strengths of Edina Jones, and Ellie McEvoy picking out Leanne Read who picked out Tolhurst on the post and slipped the ball past the advanced Wrexham goal keeper.

Wrexham took advantage of the tiring Whitchurch side and scored another five goals. Whitchurch didn’t let this get to them as they kept on applying the pressure but to no reward.

Match Reports 10/11/18

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

Whitchurch travelled away to Northop Hall this week to play the team one place below them in the league, knowing it would be a tough game. The game started reasonably well, but Whitchurch were guilty of the same mistakes as the previous couple of weeks: poor control, weak passing and generally not being fully in the game from the start. Some of this could be in part due to a pitch that was very sandy after a recent resurfacing, but still having less bounce than a dropped jelly – but ultimately the Reds failed to compensate properly for large periods of the first half. This meant many passes drew up short and were intercepted, attempts to run with the ball ended in tackles or loose passes, and aerials from the defence rarely made it to their targets.

Despite this, it was Whitchurch who went ahead first, with one of the few good passages of play from the half; the high press from Northop Hall left them exposed at the back, and Nick Cooper received a good forward pass after some simple passing play, and was able to round the keeper and put the ball into the open net. The rest of the half was spent under pressure at the back, with Danny Foulkes, Steve Kay, James Partington and Airan Jones working hard to cut out attacks from both wings and down the centre. Paul “Sturge” Leigh was again solid in goal, making sliding tackles and powerful clearances when the attacks had made it past the defence.

In the centre of the pitch, the pressure was relieved by some good work by Jack Barnes, Rob Chappell, Craig Hockenhull and Ben Kimberley, who came back time and again to help clear the ball and to mark the opposition’s midfield, but it was still difficult to break the high press with play breaking down too often. The front line of Tom Forster, Nick Cooper, Peter Scales, supported by Fred Egerton, were kept out of the game with forward passes being cut out or the Northop defence working well to regain the ball. The pressure told, with a good forward run evading the Whitchurch defence and the striker getting the ball past a diving Sturge.

The half-time score was 1-1, which was better than it might have been, but the Reds knew they should have done better. The half-time talk, without Captain Alex Fry this week, probably represents what is so good about the team this year: other players stepped up to take responsibility, highlighting what they knew to be problems and working out plans for the team to implement. Risky play – unsafe long balls, aerials, driving into tackles – were to be replaced with more careful passing, better running, earlier offloads to accommodate the pitch and the opposition better. The second half reflected this and was far, far better. The Northop Hall defence was breached time and again, with Cooper receiving long passes on several occasions and being denied only by excellent keeping or last minute tackles. Forster went very close, and wings were used well to get passes into the dee. Whitchurch moved the ball better across the pitch, shuffling the defence to bring Chappell back to strengthen the play from deep, and passes started to reach their targets, good runs were made, tackles were avoided, and the width of the pitch was used far better. The attacks led to a number of great balls across the Northop dee, lacking only the final touch, but leading to a number of short corners. It was from one of these that Barnes scored the Reds’ second, with a well-executed routine ending in a flick at the goalkeeper who only got a slight touch to it before it hit the net.

The rest of the half was more even, and Northop Hall got a short corner of their own which was initially stopped well by Sturge, but the rebound fell nicely to the Northop striker who put it over the prone keeper. Whitchurch defended well for the rest of the half and were able to see the game out to continue a run of games where the quality hasn’t always been there, but the determination and commitment has seen them through to a good result. They stay ahead of Northop Hall, third in the league, and are away to Neston next week.

Whitchurch ladies 3s 3 Alderley Edge ladies 7s 1

Victory for the Whitchurch Ladies this weekend was a well deserved 3-1 win against Alderley Edge lead by Captain Wendy Cooper.

The start of the game didn’t’ look too promising for Whitchurch with Alderley Edge securing a number of short corners early on.  However, and as a result of the brilliant defence from Mel Reid, Emily Lister, Wendy Cooper, Jan Teggin and Gayle Ladd, who went on to earn a well-deserved player of the match, were unable to secure any goals.  Whitchurch went on to have a few short corners for themselves, a greatly structured short corner with outstanding play from the ladies allowed Becky Brookfield to convert the corner into their 1st goal.   After some great play Whitchurch scored again but unfortunately this landed in the home goal making it 1-1.   Nina Hodges was fouled in the dee leading to Whitchurch being awarded a free flick this was taken by Gayle with an unfortunate save.  .

After some team talk the second half was filled with a lot of pressure from Whitchurch, Emily Lister, Kate Buckeridge, Fran Ball and Mia Spruce worked tirelessly on the wings helping to push the game Whitchurch’s way.   The continuous great play by Becky Brookfield, Sue Read, Annie Buckeridge and Nina Hodges down the centre of the pitch enabled the ball to stay in the oppositions half enabling Nina Hodges to slam the ball into the back boards making the score to 2-1.  Whitchurch were not out of the woods as Alderley Edge tried to get the ball through the ever strong Whitchurch defence without success and through exceptional play by all ladies the ball stayed in the oppositions half and again Nina Hodges found the back boards bringing the score to 3-1.

Well done ladies you all played brilliantly and you deserved to win.

Wilmslow ladies 3s 1 Whitchurch ladies 1s 3

Whitchurch ladies 1s travelled away to play top of the league Wilmslow 3s. From the move of the first ball Whitchurch ladies took control, passing the ball well around Wilmslow defence. Mid fielders Lisa Sullivan, Millie Edwards and Catherine Winter-Gresty held the middle strong giving forwards Stephanie Stanton, Ellie Windsor and Jessica Carruthers strength to have several attempts on goal. With a short corner awarded to Whitchurch a well practiced routine was pulled off as Ellie Windsor deflected a strong pass in from Captain Catherine Winter-Gresty into the net.

Wilmslow were in shock as Whitchurch were on fire and scored again from the same short corner routine, this time Staunton catching the rebound and slotting the ball onto the back board.

Wilmslow began to fight back and keeper Maddy Sugden was put into action and saved several shots on goal and defence Catherine Reece-Gresty and Emma Harper passed the ball back up the pitch.

Half time came and Whitchurch caught their breath to go back out with as much determination to win as the start.

Wilmslow used a different strategy moving more players into the dee and managed to score as the ball caught in the keepers pads, fell and trickled over the line. With a bit more play in the Whitchurch end Chloe Lloyd and Martha Teggin picked up Wilmslow as they started using wide balls to get around the strong centre.

With the ball moving forward Whitchurch had another run of shorts, but they scored their third and final goal by Stephanie Stanton slipping it into the far corner.

Whitchurch held a frustrated Wilmslow off until the final whistle went.

A fantastic win for Whitchurch, beating top of the league and moving them up to only one point behind the two top teams!

Player’s player was awarded to Captain Catherine Winter-Gresty.

Sale ladies 3s 3 Whitchurch ladies 2s 4

Whitchurch were away this week and ready for a strong match against Sale who were one place above them in the league.

Whitchurch started strong from the push back and quickly scored an early goal from Leanne Read which was skilfully set up by Ellie McEvoy and Emily Vernon who were the dream team up the left wing for the whole game. Sale quickly followed with a chasing goal.

Whitchurch came back with a surge of energy and Read scored another goal within a few minutes. Jess Kimberley, Helen Mellor and Gwyn Thomas-Rees kept the Sale attack at bay with some tactical defending and strong teamwork which was eventually worn down by the Sale attack, resulting in another goal for Sale.

After half time, Whitchurch came back with a new burst of energy which left them dominating the game with the majority of the possession and plenty of shots on goal. The pressure resulted in Leanne Read claiming her hattrick as the ball flew into the net following a short corner. With Sale always on chasing their tale, a goal was conceded after a strong drive from the Sale defence.

At 3-3 in the final few minutes, Whitchurch needed another surge of energy and a goal to seal a win. Seeing a window of opportunity there was a sharp attack from Leanne Read and Emily Vernon who took the ball up the pitch with Emily driving it into the net and scoring the winning goal. With Whitchurch being ahead and a few minutes left, Whitchurch shut down any attack Sale had to try and claw back a draw. With the final whistle blowing and the score being 4-3 to Whitchurch it was a well deserved win following a good game with both sides coming away pleased with their performance.

Whitchurch dominated the game from start to finish, demonstrating their skill and team work from the beginning resulting in the win they deserved. With the first win of the season in the bag, they are hopeful for the rest of the season and more wins to come.

Whitchurch Men’s 2s 0 Oxton Men’s 5s 6

Looking to bounce back from their hammering by Neston last week, Whitchurch Men’s 2s welcomed in-form Oxton 5s to SJT on Saturday afternoon. With two thumping wins in their last two fixtures, including a big win against Neston, the game against the Wirral side was always going to be tough for the Reds, especially without the experience and influence of Craig Hockenhull, who was away with the first team.

Whitchurch got off to the worst possible start, with Oxton racing into an early 2-0 lead. Although the Wirral side were also fielding a few young players, the superior hockey skills of the visitors, coupled with their pace and power had the Whitchurch players chasing shadows. Oxton were able to move the ball quickly through the Whitchurch midfield and defence, creating great chances that keeper Gareth Teggin was powerless to stop.

Whitchurch had a few brief flurries in front of goal during the first half but the closest they came to scoring was a shot from Sam Conway that flashed across the goal.

Throughout the first half, chances kept coming for the visitors. The Whitchurch defenders (Mark Sugden, Doug Buckeridge, Wyn Morris and Brendan Coburn) were under the cosh, but worked manfully to keep the score down, with a series of great tackles and clearances, and Gareth Teggin made a number of good stops to keep the score down. Despite their efforts Oxton finished the half with a 4-0 lead.

The second half followed a similar pattern, but Whitchurch worked hard to close the spaces Oxton had exploited in the first half. Sam Conway, David Brunyard and Joe Coburn dropped deeper to help out the defence, and Richard Leigh and young Will Snaith dropped into defence to help out the tiring defenders.

Oxton added a further two goals in the second half, but Whitchurch also had their chances. Ethan Gresty had an excellent game on the right wing and combined well with Euan Morris and Joe Faithfull to create some half-chances around the dee. 13-year old Jacob Buckeridge forced the Oxton keeper into a good save from a well-worked short corner routine, and Whitchurch thought they’d got their goal, late in the game, but the goal was ruled out for a stray foot following a discussion between the two umpires.

Oxton were good value for their 6-0 win, but Whitchurch shouldn’t be downhearted. Certainly the effort put in by all of the 2s players was deserving of praise, but in this game they just came up against a team superior in quality all over the pitch.

Whitchurch Men’s 2s entertain Chester 6s at SJT on Saturday 17th November in their next fixture.

Match Reports 03/11/18

Whitchurch Men’s 1s 4  Oxton Men’s 4s 0

Whitchurch were at home this week against a youthful team from Oxton, hoping to build on the good work from last week at Keele. Oxton immediately applied pressure, which Whitchurch were able to soak up reasonably well, with Paul “Sturge” Leigh in goal called on far less than against Keele. The defence of Danny Foulkes, Steve Key, James Partington, Rob Chappell and Airan Jones in rotation were able to mark their players well, channel them out wide and clear any incursions into the dee. In the centre, Alex Fry, Jack Barnes and Ben Kimberley again put in strong games to control the middle of the field and distribute the ball well to the wings, but Oxton made it difficult this week and a number of passes from Whitchurch players were intercepted or went directly to the opposition, which meant a lot of running back to recover and gave Oxton more opportunities than they should have had.

The deadlock was broken with Fry launching an aerial up the field which got to Tom Forster who put away an excellent reverse-stick strike to put the Reds one up. Whitchurch then started to find more space behind the Oxton midfield, and Nick Cooper, Jon Chappell, Martin Beecher and Forster combined well to stretch out the Oxton defence. Again, attacks were snubbed due to passes not making their targets, or people driving into difficulty, but the game was well-balanced. The forwards were unlucky not to get goals from good passes into the dee, lacking just a final touch on a number of occasions. Penalty corners started to come into play as the game stretched to each dee more often, and Sturge was called on to make critical saves, but it was a penalty corner to Whitchurch that made the difference: the Reds put a training pitch routine into practice with Barnes pulling off a perfect drag flick just inches inside the left post to put the Reds two up. Another penalty corner followed shortly after, but was ruled out for height on the first strike, and Whitchurch went into half time with a deserved lead.

The half-time talk was about trying to cut out the frustrating mistakes so that the focus could be on repeating the good skills from the first half. Whitchurch set to their tasks better in the second half, but as Oxton pressed more to try to get back into the game, some of the tackles from both sides got more enthusiastic and broke up play. Whitchurch settled quicker, and put together one of the better goals from their season, starting with a clearance from a sixteen, five passes down the right wing and a sharp strike from Jon Chappell to put the third on the score sheet. It represented the best of everything that Whitchurch is striving for this season, with success coming from players running for each other and playing as a team. It was another good team effort that gave Chappell his second towards the end of the game, and it was then a case of holding on for the victory. Oxton played well, and were very strong in the middle of the pitch, but were unlucky not to get a goal themselves.

The final whistle was welcome as Whitchurch knew they hadn’t played their absolute best, but had still come away with a good win. They are away next week at Northop Hall who are currently just below them in the league table.

Whitchurch ladies 2s 0 Macclesfield ladies 3s 3

Whitchurch started off strong, taking control of the game from the start. Midfield’s Megan Brunyard, Becky Brookfield and Molly Fry worked together to get the ball up to Phoebe Jones, Sue Read and Izzy Huxley. Whitchurch held off Macclesfield but unfortunately couldn’t score. Macclesfield began to fight back, hammering the Whitchurch defence, Martha Teggin and Jess Kimberley, Leanne Read and Wendy Cooper came back to support. Goalkeeper Gwyn Thomas-Rees kept the balls out of the net. Milly Carruthers and Caitlin Edwards subbed on to give fresh enthusiasm and energy to the Whitchurch Ladies. Macclesfield remained persistent, and after some quick passing, they scored a well deserved goal. The end of the first half continued to test the defensive skills of the Whitchurch Ladies, with Macclesfield being awarded several short corners. Whitchurch worked together to keep the ball out of the goal as Macclesfield continued to press, winning the ball back from Whitchurch hit outs many times. As the Whitchurch defence worked hard, the ball was returned to their attack and several more goal attempts were made, with a very close shot just missing the back post. Half time brought a welcome breather for the ladies, and a tactful half time chat and some sweets boosted the Whitchurch Ladies’ spirits and they started the second half with determination,

Getting the ball back from a Macclesfield push back, and pressing hard for a goal. Whitchurch held possession but were unable to score. Macclesfield fought back hard and with some speedy players and quick passing, they made several more attempts on goal, which were saved. Whitchurch Ladies came back to defend, but unfortunately their efforts weren’t enough and Macclesfield made the score 2-0. Whitchurch heads didn’t drop and some excellent passing and teamwork provided the ladies with more opportunities, which were unlucky to not be converted. After a change of positions on the Whitchurch team, new plays were made and Whitchurch showed more life and determination. Macclesfield wouldn’t stop pushing, and after a very good game by both teams, with some lovely hockey, Macclesfield got a lucky goal just seconds before the final whistle, making the score 3-0. Whitchurch Ladies played well, showing some good strength, including defensive short corners in which they did not concede any goals. Gwyn Thomas-Rees was named player of the match.

Whitchurch ladies 1s 5 Chester ladies 3s 0

Whitchurch ladies 1s played Chester 3s at home this week and from the start they took control of the game holding the ball in Chester’s 25. Lisa Sullivan, Helen Mellor and Catherine Winter-Gresty passed the ball around putting plenty of pressure on Chester defence.

All the pressure payed off early for Whitchurch as Hebe Dixon scored first with a shot from top of the dee. Chester broke a few times, using the width, but balls were quickly picked up by Gayle Ladd and Millie Edwards and soon after Ellie Windsor found space and slotted through the keeper’s legs.

Whitchurch had plenty of short corners before half time, but couldn’t make any count.

After a quick break Whitchurch ladies came out strong playing the ball around Chester giving Stephanie Stanton chances on goal, Whitchurch forwards were all in the dee when Hebe Dixon scored her 2nd with a reverse shot into the near corner.

Chester were tiring and trying the same play but Whitchurch got wise to it, Chloe Lloyd and Lisa Sullivan passing back up the pitch they played their own game and with a cross pass from captain Catherine Winter-Gresty, Katie Leicester managed to get a touch on the ball and scored. With 5 minutes to go Whitchurch managed one more goal which gave Hebe Dixon a hat trick, from a short corner Lisa Sullivan and Dixon passed around Chester defence and Dixon slipped it into the far post. Whitchurch were very happy with their 5-0 win. Players player went to Hebe Dixon.

Neston Men’s 8s 7   Whitchurch Men’s 2s 1

Whitchurch took a young team to the Wirral hoping for a competitive match against a team only a couple of places above them in the league. Whitchurch were left stunned in the early stages by the by the ability of the central players in the Neston team whose combination of skill and speed left the Whitchurch midfield and defence floundering and struggling to come to terms with something they hadn’t encountered in the games so far this season.

Neston raced into a two-goal lead within minutes of the start winning and converting to well worked penalty corners. Whitchurch had to regroup when Richard Leigh had to leave the pitch after being on the receiving end of a fierce clearance by his own team. Whitchurch started to make more progress towards the Neston goal, with Craig Hockenhull as usual the driving force through midfield, ably assisted by David Brunyard.

As the attacks broke down on the edge of the Neston dee, the home side were able to spring forward in numbers, leaving the Whitchurch midfield behind, and cause all sorts of problems for the Reds defence. Wyn Morris made several excellent clearances, Doug Buckeridge scooped a couple of goal-bound efforts away, and keeper Gareth Teggin made several excellent stops and clearances. 13-year olds Sam Appleby (playing his first senior game) and Jacob Buckeridge worked hard to stifle the Neston attacks, but ultimately Whitchurch were undone by a combination of skill, pace, power and numbers, and the home side went into the halftime break with a 5-0 lead.

The 2s regrouped at halftime and an excellent team talk focused on gaining some pride from the second half, the importance of tracking back and making Neston work much harder for any further goals.

The team responded brilliantly in the second period. The midfield made a much more determined effort to get back at the Neston players when the Whitchurch moves broke down but were also a threat going forward. Ethan Gresty and Joe Faithfull enjoyed some really good spells on the left and right respectively and started to link up with Euan Morris in much more dangerous positions.

The home side were still a threat on the counterattack, but, with Richard Leigh back on the field, Whitchurch did well to restrict the number and quality of chances Neston created. Again, keeper Gareth Teggin came to rescue whenever the ball got past the Reds defenders and threatened the goal.

Neston did extend their lead to 7-0, but Whitchurch were undeterred and struck back through Euan Morris after great work by David Brunyard. Euan and Fred Egerton both went close to scoring in the dying moments of the game.

This was a tough experience for Whitchurch 2s. With the 12-man squad made up of seven players at 15-years old or younger it was a big learning curve but showed that the future of the club is looking positive. Despite the score line the team learnt important lessons kept working to the end and continued to improve as the game progressed

Keeper Gareth Teggin had an excellent game and for long periods kept Whitchurch going with a number of fine saves; Joe Faithfull had an excellent game, particularly in the second half, with his strong, determined running and his willingness to look to move the ball quickly; Ethan Gresty had another strong game; and Sam Appleby made a really solid senior debut despite being dropped in at the deep end, in defence, against strong, physical opposition.

Whitchurch Men’s 2s next game is at home to Oxton 5s on Saturday 10th November at SJT.

Match Reports 27/10/18

Whitchurch Mens 1s 3 – Keele University Mens 1s 3

Whitchurch travelled away to Keele this week trying to continue their good run of form and maintain their position at the upper end of the league, and they faced a strong, young and fit University team with plentiful number of substitutes, so knew from the off that the pace was likely to be high. This was indeed the case as Keele immediately laid on the pressure in the Whitchurch half with excellent movement and passing, with the defence of Danny Foulkes, Steve Kay, Airan Jones and James Partington under constant attack. There were a number of last minute clearances, and Paul “Sturge” Leigh in goal was instrumental in keeping the scoresheet clean with a number of critical blocks and dives.

The midfield dug in and spread the ball well, with Tom Forster, Alex Fry and Jack Barnes having to put in double shifts both driving the ball forward and chasing back as Keele counter-attacked quickly from any breakdown in play. It was a game with relatively few tackles as most of the Keele attacks were based on shifting the ball out wide with early passes rather than trying to go through or around players, and this meant that they managed the game well, used the ball to do the running and caught the Reds’ defence out on several occasions with smart passes through to their high men.

When they did break, Whitchurch made great use of the ball, with Sam Conway and Ben Kimberley working well on the wings along with rolling substitutes Euan Morris and Fred Egerton to ensure that the space out wide was used effectively, and this gave the Reds the first goal of the game; having got possession in the middle of the field, Whitchurch moved it up the wing quickly, got in behind the Keele defence, and the cross to a relatively empty dee was picked up by Nick Cooper who put it past the keeper for the first goal of the game. From the restart, Keele immediately attacked again, and continued to have the majority of possession, but a few minutes later in an almost carbon-copy play, Whitchurch moved the ball up the wing, round the back of the defence and a cross to Cooper was put away to take the game to 2-0 at half time.

The second half was more of the same, with Keele continuing to attack strongly but being repelled by the Reds’ defence, with Sturge continuing to make critical goalline clearances, and the defence doing enough to stop the many attacks, and then Whitchurch broken again to let Cooper pick up his third of the game in similar fashion. It was at this point that the difference in fitness between the teams started to come in to play: the youth of the Keele team allowed them to keep attacking, whilst the Whitchurch defence tired and started letting their markers go, giving Keele a chance to break through and get one past a diving Sturge. This gave them more confidence while Whitchurch heads dropped, and they followed it up with another strong pass through to an forward in the dee who was able to get his shot away. The short-corners kept coming, putting the Reds under ever more pressure, and a clearance from the last one fell to a Keele player who put through a pass that seemed high but was allowed, and that was enough for them to get the equaliser in the last minute of the game.

A frustrating end to the game for Whitchurch was balanced by the fact that the opposition had been very strong and the Reds’ goals had often come against the run of play, so the strong first half and persistent defending had meant that the draw was a good result from a tough game. The result keeps Whitchurch third in the league, and they play Oxton 4s next week at home.

Senior, Junior and Academy hockey in North Shropshire