Match Reports 16/11/19

Neston Men’s 5s 3 Whitchurch Men’s 1s 2

Whitchurch lost their first game of the season against a strong Neston team this week, dropping them from the top of the table. Some days a team can play badly but still win, and others they can play well enough but just come up against better competition, and this week was the latter: Neston had strength throughout their team, with pace and skill throughout, and played as a team and it was enough for them to nick the win.

Whitchurch started well enough, with good movement around the back – Danny Foulkes was flanked by Chris Ruscoe and James Partington and they moved the ball across the pitch confidently before starting attacks down either wing. Tom Forster on the left and Ben Kimberley on the right provided width, and Dale Seymour and Jack Barnes controlled the centre of the pitch. A new three-up-front formation had Nick Cooper, Jon Chappel and Craig Hockenhull playing higher up and moving the width further forward, and this gave the Reds the edge for the first half.

The first goal was a beauty, and was the kind of goal you practise and practise in the hopes of it working one day: Barnes drove down the right and fired a ball in, but it smacked into a Neston leg; as the advantage was played, Barnes’ second strike fizzed into the dee and Chappell got a lovely glancing touch on it and it flew into the goal. A defender’s nightmare to try to block, given the velocity of the ball, and the Reds deserved to be ahead at that point.

The game then settled, and Neston put together a number of good runs. Paul “Sturge” Leigh was instrumental in keeping the scoresheet clean with some critical blocks and he was able to run out and delay attackers whilst the defence ran back. Fred Egerton, Pip Jones and Airan Jones were used well as substitutes to keep the intensity high and Whitchurch were unlucky not to grab a couple more, with Cooper striking the outside of the post, and the Neston keeper pulling off some great saves.

The second half had the game turn in Neston’s favour: they started leaving two players up front, which gave the Reds more to think about there, and Hockenhull’s constant harrowing of the Neston defence caused them to turn to aerial balls to get out of the back, but these started to have some success and Neston launched attacks down the left from them. They were able to get two quick goals off this form of attack before Whitchurch adapted, and this put the Reds on the back foot.

Whitchurch were able to get a goal back, with some sublime work down the left: Barnes passed to Kimberley who raced down the left side of the pitch before getting into the dee and unleashing a rocket into the top of the net. Despite Sturge making even more diving saves and blocks, good opposition pressure and some poor clearances meant Neston were able to nick another on the break, and they kept that pressure up until the end of the game, with a number of short corners which the Reds did well to deal with.

Ultimately, the stronger team won. Neston came out in the second half with a better game plan, and it worked. Whitchurch played well enough for most of the game, but it wasn’t to be this week. Next weekend they have two home games, catching up on last week’s missed game, so will have to take the lessons from this game and reapply themselves well to get back to the top of the table.

Whitchurch Men’s 2s 5 – 0 Neston Men’s 8s

Whitchurch Men’s 2s were looking to build on the excellent result and performance against Runcorn the previous weekend, but Neston 8s were also going well this season, so the fixture at SJT promised to be tight game.

However, the home side took control from the first whistle and, bar a few moments, they remained in control of the game until the end. The defence of Wyn Morris, Brendan Coburn and Gareth Teggin were strong and composed in dealing with Neston’s attacking threat and this enabled Will Snaith and Doug Buckeridge to push up and support the Whitchurch attacks.

Richard Leigh provided the solid platform in midfield, allowing Luke Beddow, Joe Coburn and Alex Leigh to work close to the Neston dee, providing clever passes and runs to outmanoeuvre the away defence throughout the game.

Will Gilbert, Jacob Buckeridge, Ethan Gresty and Joe Faithfull provided good width on the flanks and were diligent in their defensive duties, whilst Euan Morris was a constant threat to the Neston goal.

Despite controlling the opening exchanges, Whitchurch couldn’t quite manufacture a clear goal scoring chance. After a bizarre short corner that went very badly wrong, the home side got into their groove with a well-worked routine that saw Euan Morris and Joe Coburn exchange passes in the dee and Euan then fire into the bottom corner to open the scoring.

Chances started to come the home side’s way and the Neston keeper made some good saves, but Euan was quick to pounce on a rebound and double the Whitchurch lead by lifting the ball over the prone keeper.

Whitchurch continued to dominate, but tempers started to fray as the away side felt umpiring decisions were going against them. The home side compounded those frustrations when Euan slotted in a third goal to make the score 3-0 at the break.

Neston came out with renewed purpose at the start of the second half and enjoyed a sustained period of possession, but the Whitchurch defence was excellent and prevented any real danger to keeper Neil Jones’ goal.

Progressively Whitchurch wrestled back control and repeatedly advanced on the Neston goal. Chances came and went. Ethan Gresty was twice unfortunate not to turn in at the back post. The Neston keeper made some good saves and his defenders did well to clear some of the ensuing danger. But they couldn’t repel every attack and Whitchurch added another goal through Luke Beddow who followed up well after several shots from a short corner were blocked or saved, and then Ethan Gresty swept home on the reverse stick after being neatly set-up by Jacob Buckeridge.

For a change this season, Whitchurch diligently protected their clean sheet and saw out the 5-0 win without any significant alarms.

This was another excellent performance from the young 2s. They played some top-quality hockey at times during the game. Joe Coburn and Luke Beddow were excellent throughout, and their interplay in tight areas was a joy to behold. Euan Morris continues to be a significant threat up front and is scoring goals for fun at the moment. The wide players are getting better with each game; making the pitch big when the team has the ball; and small when defending. Jacob, Will, Ethan and Joe Faithfull all found themselves in dangerous attacking positions because of their clever running. And once again the defenders and Richard Leigh provided the solid platform enabling the forward players to play high up the pitch and pen the opposition near their own goal.

Next week the Men’s 2s will be looking to continue their good run of form when they travel to the Wirral to take on Bebington 4s.

Knutsford ladies 1s 2 Whitchurch ladies 1s 4

Whitchurch ladies 1s travelled away to play second in division Knutsford 1s. With a strong team and two subs Whitchurch attacked from the start, but Knutsford had a strong keen team which held Whitchurch off for some time before they won a short corner and Hebe Dixon fired the ball for Stephanie Stanton to deflect into the top net.

Knutsford attacked hard down the middle taking Whitchurch off guard and scoring. Mid fielders Lisa Sullivan, Catherine Winter-Gresty and Dixon held tight pushing the ball out wide using the width of Ellie Windsor and Izzy Huxley. With lots of pressure on Knutsford defence eventually allowed Lisa Sullivan to eject into the dee from half way, hitting the post and Huxley collecting and scoring their second.

Knutsford came back hard again and with lots of pressure broke down the Whitchurch defence Chloe Lloyd, Molly Fry and Millie Edwards and equalised.

Just before half time Whitchurch had time to score another, with Ellie Windsor taking on the keeper from a deflection and taking the lead.

Half time talk and re-energised Whitchurch took control of the game with quicker passes and runs from Kezzie Hutching’s and Sophie Ward allowing lots more action in the Knutsford dee. Sarah Field was heavily marked but broke and fought with several defenders and keeper to slip into the goal.

At 4 – 2 the Knutsford players heads had lowered and for the last five minutes Whitchurch passed around them making lots more chances to score with some lovely shots in from the Winter-Gresty, Sullivan and Field. But Knutsford dropped back stopping anymore goals for Whitchurch.

Sarah Field was awarded player.

Whitchurch play two home games next weekend as they catchup on re-arranged games.

Sandbach ladies 2’s 3 Whitchurch ladies 3’s 3

Whitchurch travelled to a new away venue this week to play Sandbach 2’s at South Cheshire College.

It was clear right from the start that the teams were evenly matched with strong attacks from both sides. Whitchurch’s well organised defence of Hermonie Ball, Jan Teggin and Mel Reid managed to prevent Sandbach from entering the Whitchurch dee and provided excellent passes out to Jasmin Williams and Caitlin Edwards on the right wing and Emily Lister on the left, who then put in some brilliant passing to Kate Buckeridge and Emma Stubbs storming down the left wing. Phoebe Jones who covered a huge central area up front, deftly received some excellent passes from centre half Wendy Cooper.

Despite lots of possession, Whitchurch failed to score in the first 10 minutes as Kate B was struggling with the pace of the pitch (it was not running as fast as her!); Stubbs was really unlucky not to score the 2nd goal of her debut season with a fantastic sprawl in the Sandbach dee; Jones had several strikes at goal denied by the excellent Sandbach keeper; and Cooper managed to hit the outside of the left goal post.

After a quick reorganisation of players, Annie Buckeridge stormed onto the pitch at left inner and gave Whitchurch a new lease of life. Sam Parkhurst provided some extra support in the middle and Annie Leigh on the left. This change of tactics led to Kate B managing to push the ball between the keeper’s legs and score her first goal for Whitchurch. Unfortunately, an undeterred Sandbach managed to equalise shortly afterwards leaving the score 1-1 at half time.

The 2nd half was a similar end to end affair with some excellent defending from Sandbach denying Edwards and Williams goals from the right-hand side of the pitch and Jones and Leigh on the left.

The counter attacks from Sandbach were swift and left Whitchurch high up the pitch and despite a valiant attempt to race back and defend from Teggin, Cooper and Ball, Sandbach forced an own goal to put them ahead 2-1. Then a break through run from Kate B from the half way line, through a sandwich of defenders at the dee edge, led to a strike from Jones who found the back board of the Sandbach goal giving Whitchurch the equaliser.

Sandbach kept attacking and despite some excellent leaves and saves from keeper Louise Cotterill, Whitchurch conceded another goal putting Sandbach ahead with 10 minutes left to play. Despite this, Whitchurch refused to give up and attacked back narrowly missing several short corner attempts from Williams and Jones. Captain Cooper drove forwards with two reverse stick shots towards goal and this seemed to spur Whitchurch on leading to a last-minute equaliser by Annie Buckeridge leaving the score 3-3 at full-time. A great game which demonstrated how well this 3rd team has improved since last season.

The ladies 2s game was a walkover as the opposition failed to raise a team.

Match Reports 09/11/19 and 10/11/19

Another weekend of home fixtures cancelled due to bad weather and pitch flooding saw only the away sides play on Saturday but Sunday saw all the ladies teams in action catching up on fixtures cancelled two weeks ago

Saturday November 9th 2019.

Runcorn Men’s 3s 1 Whitchurch Men’s 2s 10

The Men’s 2s travelled to Runcorn looking to build on the good hockey played in last weekend’s defeat to Birkenhead.

With the Merseyside team struggling for results this season, it seemed like a good opportunity for the 2s to get back to winning ways, however it was Runcorn that started the game better. With a cold wind howling around the pitch, the home side had Whitchurch penned in their own half for the first 10 minutes of the game. Wyn Morris, Brendan Coburn, Gareth Teggin and Will Snaith defended well and keeper Neil Jones wasn’t seriously tested. The Reds survived a couple of short corners and then dramatically escaped from their own half.

A long ball was played forward to Euan Morris, who raced clear of the Runcorn defence, rounded the keeper and opened the scoring. Within minutes 1-0 had become 4-0 as Whitchurch found their form and Runcorn found themselves penned in their own half. Jacob Buckeridge turned in a Luke Beddow pass at the back post for his first goal in senior hockey. Euan Morris fired home the third goal and Joe Coburn scored an absolute beauty after dribbling past four Runcorn players in the dee and slotting into the far corner.

Whitchurch continued to dominate the play in the first half, with Joe Coburn, Luke Beddow and Richard Leigh controlling midfield, the wingers playing high and the fullbacks pushing up. But chances came and went …. Alex Leigh was twice denied by good goal keeping, James Page was close to poking in at the back post and Will Gilbert was a constant threat. Eventually a defence-splitting pass from Ethan Gresty enabled Euan Morris to complete his hat-trick and give the 2s a 5-0 lead at half-time.

Whitchurch continued to press in the second half and scored goals at regular intervals throughout the second period. James Page bundled the ball in at the far post to score his first goal in senior hockey, and Jacob Buckeridge unselfishly squared the ball for his dad, Doug Buckeridge to push the ball into an empty goal for his first goal for the 2s. Euan Morris added a fourth goal to his tally as the Reds looked to score with every attack.

At 8-0 down Runcorn had a spell of possession and pushed Whitchurch back towards their own goal. Their efforts were rewarded with a consolation goal from a short corner. But the 2s responded with further goals from Joe Faithfull, who rounded the keeper and finished well, and Luke Beddow who scored from about 2 inches after Euan Morris had fired the ball goalward

In September last year the Men’s 2s came to Runcorn with a young side and lost 2-1. The 10-1 win in this game shows how far these young players have developed in the last year or so. This was an impressive attacking display, although the quality of the hockey didn’t quite hit the heights of the previous weekend against Birkenhead.

Euan continued his fantastic goal-scoring form and Joe Coburn scored a wonderful solo goal. Three players scored their first goals in senior hockey. Jacob and James are young lads and will score many more goals for the 2s, but Doug’s goal was a real collector’s item. It was harder to miss, but it’s taken him 5 years to get that goal. He can now return to the defence and leave the goal-scoring to the younger lads!

The Men’s 2s next match is at home to Neston 8s at 1:30pm on Saturday 16th November.

Brooklands ladies 4s 7 Whitchurch ladies 2s 1

Whitchurch ladies 2s battled the elements, to travel away on Saturday 9th November, with all home matches cancelled. Whitchurch set off in the cold to play Brooklands in a very wet Manchester

Whitchurch were very positive following their winning streak in the last 3 matches, eager to face top of the league, Brooklands In a game that they knew would be a challenge.

The team was very strong comprising of Captain Emma Clarke, supported in the backs by goalkeeper Megan Nicholson and Catherine Reece-Gresty

Halves were Jess Kimberley, Chloe Lloyd, Martha Teggin, Ellie McEvoy and inners were the dynamic duo of Ellie Pearson and Holly Edwards and the attack consisted of Edina Jones and Phoebe Jones, Megan Brunyard, Holly Gilbert

The push back was won by Brooklands which foreshadowed future events.

Whitchurch played well passing the ball between themselves unfortunately Brooklands were able to intercept Whitchurch’s attacks. Whitchurch controlled most of the possession during the first half but Brooklands went on to score five goals in the first half with lucky breaks.

The half time talk was positive and constructive helping Whitchurch get back on track

Whitchurch started strong with Phoebe Jones pushing the ball forward to Holly Edwards, this gave Whitchurch a spring of life and gave Whitchurch the confidence to push forward and play a more attacking game.

This led to a short corner which they failed to convert; however, Whitchurch were not finished. A long corner lead to a lucky break with Chloe Lloyd pushing the back to Catherine Reece Gresty who had pushed up to send the ball powerfully into Phoebe Jones who slotted it past the keeper. Giving Whitchurch their only but much deserved goal of the match.

Unfortunately, time was not on Whitchurch’s side and they couldn’t get back all the goals needed to secure a draw

Player of the match went to Phoebe Jones.

Sunday November 10th 2019

Macclesfield ladies 2s 2 Whitchurch ladies 1s 2

Ladies 1s travelled away to Macclesfield this Sunday to replay a cancelled game from 2 weeks ago.

From the whistle Whitchurch took the ball to Macclesfield. Midfielders Lisa Sullivan, Catherine Winter-Gresty and Izzy Huxley moved the ball well through Macclesfield and within minutes Whitchurch scored from a short corner with Jessica Carruthers deflecting the ball over the keeper.

Macclesfield quickly fought back with a goal from open play, shaking Whitchurch up.

In defence Emma Harper, Catherine Reece-Gresty and Millie Edwards quickly passed the ball up the pitch as Macclesfield were fighting for another. Keeper Beth Wright made some amazing saves, balls being collected by Anna Latham and Hayleigh Busby on the wings. Sarah Field sat high waiting to fire at the keeper for a deflection for great team work from Lisa Sullivan and then Ellie Windsor to lift over the keeper.

Macclesfield’s tempers rose and wanted the win and again quickly equalised.

At half time 2 all, Whitchurch ladies collected themselves and went back out as the start, lovely passes up the pitch to have a run of short corners but couldn’t find a gap to score.

Macclesfield kept pushing up the pitch, they were beginning to tire but so were Whitchurch.

Both teams played well to the final whistle.

Ladies 1s were happy with the result as it was a Sunday game with several of their regular players missing.

Whitchurch ladies 2s 2 Macclesfield 2s 1

Whitchurch began their game with great strength, despite their exhaustion from yesterday’s match. They persevered, winning a short corner only minutes into the game. Holly Edwards took a powerful shot at the top of the dee, but Macclesfield fought back, saving the goal. Whitchurch dominated the play with Edina Jones and Amelie Morris making amazing runs down the left wing and keeping the ball up in Macclesfield’s Dee. Ellie Pearson and Nicola Forster worked well together with a string of quick passes getting another shot at goal but just missing. Despite their constant battling, Whitchurch were still at 0-0 when the half time whistle blew.

Reenergised, Whitchurch were ready to get back on the pitch and score some goals. Phoebe Jones made some amazing runs and Molly Fry set up numerous brilliant attacks with help from Edwards and Amy Fry – who made some quick interlinking passes – resulting in a shot from Amy Fry which just missed the goal. Holly Gilbert and Pearson continued to battle down the right wing and get the ball into the dee. Whitchurch’s efforts finally paid off with Molly Fry scoring an amazing goal. 1-0 up Whitchurch continued to put pressure on to Macclesfield who weren’t giving up. After some excellent passes, the Macclesfield players scored a well-played goal; this left Whitchurch even more determined. Emma Clarke and Chloe Lloyd worked brilliantly in defence, stopping all further Macclesfield attacks. Martha Teggin kept getting the ball back to the Whitchurch players and after a cross into the dee from Gilbert, saw Nicola Forster score an excellent winning goal as the final whistle blew, resulting in a 2-1 win for the ladies 2s.

Whitchurch ladies 3s 6 Golborne ladies 3s 2

Whitchurch ladies’ thirds had a great match against Golborne. The game started with a strong attack by Whitchurch soon leading into our first goal by Jasmin Williams. Soon afterwards, quick passes between the midfielders and inners led to Nina Hodges scoring another two goals for the team. Whitchurch defence was extremely strong, clearing the ball up the pitch. Annie Buckeridge scored a great goal making the score 4-1 by half time.

After a quick team talk, Golborne came back strong, driving the ball up to our dee. This resulted in a second goal for the opposition, but Whitchurch didn’t let that put them off. We had some great runs up the pitch by Alice Page and Libby Fox supporting.  A long corner taken by Wendy Cooper to Kate Buckeridge supported by Annie Buckeridge and Lexi Morgan lead to another two goals, one by Emma Stubbs and the other from Nina Hodges giving her the well-deserved players player. Golborne had a strong attack in the second half forcing our players to drop back. Our defenders Jan Teggin, Hermione Ball, Mel Reid and Emily Lister, managed to keep the opponents out of the dee. Louise Cottrell made some fantastic saves as goalkeeper helping with Whitchurch’s well-deserved win of 6-2.

Match Report 02/11/19

Chester Men’s 5s 4 Whitchurch Men’s 1s 4

Whitchurch had a difficult away game this week against Chester, and struggled to replicate their performance against Bowdon last week. Like last year’s fixture against this team, they found a number of umpiring decisions frustrating, and this raised tempers and a loss of composure duly followed. This set the tempo for the match, where the Reds could never quite find their rhythm, and certainly not the wide, expansive, flowing hockey from last week. It was a shame, because for several periods in the game, they had control of the play, and put together some good passages of passing hockey on a wet day where the pitch was slippery and control was harder than expected. Chester had a very good central midfielder who was the standout player in their team and was able to take the ball through the middle and around several players, and it took some time for the Reds to find ways to neutralise him – and not always completely, as the score line shows.

It was Whitchurch who went ahead first, with Nick Cooper getting a shot away after what became the pattern for the goals for the afternoon – a surfeit of players in the Chester dee, and the ball moving around until persistence paid off. The Chester goalkeeper made a number of decent saves over the afternoon and the Reds could have scored more, but it was Chester who then applied pressure. They were able to drive down the wings effectively and left a man high, and were able to chip away at the defence until eventually it paid off: a hit from outside the dee only came off Sam Conway’s stick before going in, but had apparently also touched a Chester player so was given as a goal, shifting the momentum back towards Chester.

This marked the start of frustrations for the Reds, and their composure began to wane. As decisions didn’t go their way, they were continually on the back foot. Some cards were shown, which increased the pressure, and Chester were able to grab more goals. Whitchurch responded and, as with last week’s game, success came from width; Tom Forster drove well down the left wing, and Fred Egerton had another good game in attack. Jack Barnes, Joel Leese and Rob Chappell controlled the middle of the pitch, with Ben Kimberley offering pace and control up the right. Conway, Pip Jones and James Partington flanked Danny Foulkes at the back, and again were able to build attacks from either side of the pitch. Dale Seymour showed great skill driving through the Chester defence to lay off passes to Cooper who continued his good season in the opposition dees.

In parts, Whitchurch showed the same skills as against Bowdon, but it was their composure that let them down more this week rather than any specific lack of skill. Passes didn’t always find their targets; driving through players wasn’t always successful, and the runs didn’t quite come off. Paul “Sturge” Leigh was instrumental in goal, getting player-of-the-match along the way, making a number of critical saves as Chester burst through, and the score line would have been significantly worse without his solid efforts. With the game as finely balanced as it was, having that strength and safety net at the back gave Whitchurch the chance to build up from the back, but as the two umpires gave conflicting decisions for a free hit, Chester took advantage and were able to score another quick goal, while the Reds were trying to set the other way.

The game ended four-all, with Nick Cooper scoring all four for the Reds as a result of the good teamwork and passing play that Whitchurch have shown they are good at this season. What they need to work on is the composure and control when things aren’t going quite to plan. It still leaves them top of the league and undefeated, and they are at home to Sale 2s next weekend.

Whitchurch Men’s 2s 2 – 8 Birkenhead 2s

After last week’s Whitchurch wash-out, the Men’s 2s welcomed Birkenhead 2s to SJT on a bright, sunny Sunday morning for the rearranged fixture. The Wirral side have been impressive since the start of the season and are likely to be battling for the two promotion places at the end of the season, so this was always going to be a tough match for the young Whitchurch side.

Despite only fielding 10 players, the away side took control of the early stages of the game. Whitchurch were being forced back towards the edge of their own dee, but Brendan Coburn and Wyn Morris defended resiliently and with support from the midfield, Birkenhead were finding it difficult to properly threaten the Whitchurch goal.

Chances started to come as the first half progressed. Keeper Gareth Teggin made a couple of good saves and several short corners came and went for the Wirral side. Whitchurch were finding it difficult to make any progress into the Birkenhead half. The 2s were creating their own problems with a tendency to dribble or delay passes, and the away side were quick to return the ball back into dangerous areas. Eventually Birkenhead took the lead with a well worked goal.

The goal seemed to wake up Whitchurch and they began to get to grips with the game and make some progress up the pitch. The ball was being moved much quicker through midfield and Joe Coburn, Luke Beddow, Richard Leigh and Ethan Gresty were getting on the ball in the opposition half and finding width from Will Gilbert and Joe Faithfull.

Birkenhead were still dangerous, but as one of their attacks broke down, Whitchurch were swift to counterattack. Jacob Buckeridge played an incisive diagonal pass to Euan Morris, who squared the ball, taking two defenders out of the game. As the keeper rushed towards Fred Delf-Rowlandson, he slipped the ball to Ethan Gresty, who fired into the unguarded goal to level the scores.

Whitchurch, buoyed by the goal, continued to attack, playing some good hockey in the process. The home team were unlucky not to take the lead. Birkenhead did well to hack the ball away from their goal line and the keeper made an excellent save to tip the ball just over the bar from Euan Morris’ flick at a short corner.

Alas the gulf in experience between the two sides was exposed right at the end of the first half, when Birkenhead once again took the lead, from a short corner. Gareth Teggin made an excellent save from the first strike, but the in-rushing Birkenhead player steered the rebound into the net from waist height.

Despite this set-back Whitchurch came out at the start of the second half and played some excellent hockey. The passing was swift and accurate. The ball was being protected and recycled where necessary and the visitors were struggling to get a stick on the ball or escape their own half. The good play was rewarded when Luke Beddow swept home an equaliser to make the scores 2-2.

Birkenhead looked to strike back immediately. Despite Whitchurch working hard to restrict space around their own dee, their opponents were very clever to find feet in and around the dee for free hits and short corners. After a little bit of sustained pressure around the Whitchurch goal the away side duly took the lead for the third time.

Again, Whitchurch were undeterred and continued their own good play. Doug Buckeridge and Alex Leigh were stepping out of defence to provide width in the attacking areas of the pitch and Birkenhead were once more pinned in their own half. A nice exchange of passes saw Joe Faithfull drift in from the right and find Euan Morris in the dee, his shot across the keeper unfortunately hit the post and rebounded to safety. After another neat passing move, the same player was then unlucky to see his close range shot deflected wide of the Birkenhead goal.

With Birkenhead playing on the break, there was always a risk that Whitchurch might get caught out, and once again the away side’s ability to win free hits round the 2s’ dee lead to their fourth goal.

This time Whitchurch couldn’t find a way to respond. Their play became desperate and ragged. The things that they’d done right for most of the second half, up to that goal, were less evident and the self-inflicted problems of the early stages of the first half reappeared. Birkenhead were quick to exploit this and, as legs tired, they scored four more quick goals to run out 8-2 winners.

The score line was harsh on Whitchurch who were still in the game, against a very good side, until the fourth goal went in with 10 minutes to go. They were a little unfortunate to go into half-time a goal behind and they were very unlucky not to make the score 3-3 midway through the second half. But the collapse at the end of the game was disappointing. The team will learn from this experience and Birkenhead’s captain very graciously had a little team talk with the side to praise their hockey and explain what was good and bad about the passages of play.

There were a lot of good individual performances for the 2s. The midfield played very well for most of the second half especially. The defending was resolute, and Gareth Teggin made several good saves at important moments in the game. But it was nice to see Ethan get his long-awaited first goal in senior hockey. He’s been close and he’s been desperate to score, so now he’s up and running the team will expect more goals from midfield. No pressure!

The 2s will pick themselves up from this defeat and look to put together a full 70 minutes of good hockey when they travel to Runcorn on November 9th.

Senior, Junior and Academy hockey in North Shropshire