Whitchurch mens 1s 9 – Neston South Wirral 7s 0
Whitchurch went into their final game before the Christmas break looking to continue their return to form, but were contained well by young Neston team marking the first of the season’s return fixtures. As with the first game of the season, Neston held the ball well and were able to withstand everything Whitchurch could throw at them, despite some fine work from Whitchurch who were doing the basics well from the start. It was near the end of the first half when the deadlock was broken by Jack Barnes slotting in from a short corner routine to mark the end of a very evenly balanced contest.
The second half continued with the same crisp passing, good positioning and strong marking that Whitchurch had used so far and, as time passed, experience showed with Whitchurch able to turn on the style. Felix Jeffries had moved up from left half to left wing and was able to scythe his way through the Neston defence to score a lovely goal, and as Neston heads dropped, Whitchurch laid on the pressure with Tom Leonard added to his tally with another strong strike. This was followed quickly by Martin Beecher’s tidy finish before Jeffries again turned on the speed and the style to get his second.
At the back, Sturge was solid in goal and Whitchurch were able to move the ball quickly across the defence to set up attacks. Jake Wood, Ryan Murtagh, James Partington and Ben Fry provided the stability to build from, and Joel Leese controlled the centre, releasing well to Jeffries and Ben Kimberley who was able then to pass to Leese for his first goal. As Neston heads dropped, tempers worsened, but after a reset, Whitchurch focussed on skills and played some beautiful hockey to allow Beecher and Leese to get a second goal each, and the game was finished with some excellent work and goal by Ben Fry to leave Whitchurch top of the table by three points with much-improved goal difference.
Matches restart on the 14th of January, with Whitchurch playing Bebington at home.
Oxton ladies 2s 1 Whitchurch Ladies 1s 2
Whitchurch ladies 1s played away this week at Oxton. Throughout the whole match Whitchurch controlled the game passing the ball around the Oxton players.
The Oxton defence were strong and for a while held Whitchurch off. Oxton had plenty of shorts corner chances but Whitchurch keeper Maddy Sugden was on form and made some amazing saves. Whitchurch players pushed up high wanting the goal and this allowed Oxton a gap to break and score.
Some great zigzag passes up the pitch from Lisa Sullivan, Lucy Rattcliffe and Ellie Windsor allowed Grace Berry a strike towards the goal and Sue Read a touch to score Whitchurch’s first goal.
After half time Oxton came attacking but Catherine Reece-Gresty and Clare Fitzgerald held strong in defence passing the ball back up the pitch to Charlotte Lawder and Emma Harper who scored the second for Whitchurch. The final whistle went and Whitchurch were very happy with their well-deserved 2-1 win.
Chester Mens 6s 4 Whitchurch Mens 2s 0
Whitchurch 2s travelled to Chester for the last game before the mid-season break. Christmas commitments and illnesses meant that the 2s travelled with a very inexperienced team of 10 players for this match and having lost 4-0 to Chester earlier in the season, things weren’t looking great for Whitchurch even before the game started.
Making the most of their numerical advantage, Chester immediately lay siege to the Whitchurch goal and opened the scoring within the first few minutes of the game from a well struck short corner.
Chester continued to press forward. Matt Brooks and Richard Leigh in the centre of the Whitchurch defence were under constant pressure, but with help from Doug Buckeridge and Aaron Shackleton, playing as wing-backs, and Tom Forster and Aaron Llewellyn dropping back from midfield, Whitchurch were restricting Chester to half-chances around the edge of the dee.
Wiley play from the Chester players led to a succession of short corners, but the defenders forced Chester to rush their shots and anything on target was brilliantly stopped or cleared by Neil Jones in goal.
As the half wore on, Whitchurch were able to make more progress towards the Chester goal. Forster and Llewellyn were able to play higher up the pitch and feed passes to Aaron Swain and Airon Jones playing on the flanks. With support from Buckeridge and Shackleton as well, eventually Whitchurch found some possession around the Chester dee, but were unable to get to manufacture any shooting positions for James Wise.
When Whitchurch attacks broke down at the edge of the attacking dee there was always the risk of being caught on the counter-attack by Chester. But the hard work of Whitchurch players continued to frustrate Chester and the score remained 1-0 until half-time.
Chester began the second half on the front foot and forced Whitchurch to defend much deeper than in the first half. This led to a flurry of short corners, which were defended manfully by Leigh, Brooks, Llewellyn and Buckeridge, but with Chester loading the dee for each short corner, keeper Jones was forced into more saves and clearances.
Eventually however the Whitchurch defence was breached twice in quick succession. Although the initial short corner routines were defended, the sheer number of Chester players in the dee resulted in chances that were fired past the helpless Jones.
With Whitchurch trying to respond to the two quick Chester goals they were caught on the counter-attack and Chester were able to sweep forward and add a fourth goal.
But Whitchurch dug deep and tried to come back into the game. Two surging, diagonal runs from right back by Aaron Shackleton lead to chances for Aaron Swain and James Wise, but Whitchurch were unable to apply the finishing touch to Shackleton’s good work.
Despite the 4-0 defeat, the Whitchurch players can be rightly proud of their efforts in this game, and the experienced Chester players were gracious enough to acknowledge this after the game. James Wise ploughed a lone furrow up front and Aaron Swain and Airon Jones worked hard at both ends of the pitch. Aaron Llewellyn and Tom Forster had excellent games in midfield despite being outnumbered for most of the game. Doug Buckeridge and Aaron Shackleton covered a lot of ground trying to support attacks and assist the defence, and Matt Brookes and Richard Leigh were superb in breaking up wave after wave of Chester attacks. Once again Neil Jones was excellent in goal and had no chance with any of the four goals Chester scored.
Whitchurch 2s remain in 7th position in the table. The team returns to action with a home game against Llandudno on 21st January 2017.