Match reports 24/03/18

Whitchurch Mens 2s 4 Runcorn Mens 3s 0

Whitchurch Men’s 2s played their final game of the league season against Runcorn 3s, at Bishop Heber in Malpas, on Saturday morning.

Fielding a strong squad of 15, and off the back of their excellent 7-0 win from the previous weekend, Whitchurch took control of the early stages of the game. The team were keen to retain possession and move the ball around the pitch at speed, and other than one or two close calls with their passing at the back, Whitchurch were successfully out maneuvering Runcorn in most areas of the pitch.

Chances were slow to materialise, but eventually Euan Morris and Tom Forster combined on the right, with Nick Cooper applying a neat flick, to a waist-high cross, to open the scoring. Further chances came through Martin Beecher and Joe Faithfull, and Danny Foulkes hit the post from a neatly worked short corner, but Whitchurch couldn’t find a second goal.

Runcorn were struggling to play through the Whitchurch midfield with Craig Hockenhull, Sam Conway, Doug Buckeridge and Tom Forster working hard to fill any spaces when Runcorn had the ball, but also drive forward to support the Whitchurch attacks. The away team’s biggest threat was coming from their own defensive restarts with their centre-back’s ability to smash the ball powerfully down the pitch. Although most hits went out of play at the far end, the Whitchurch defence of Danny Foulkes, Wyn Morris, Mark Sugden and James Partington had to be on their guard.

Despite playing well, with a slender 1-0 halftime lead, Whitchurch couldn’t afford to be complacent in the second half. However, the Reds immediately took control of possession and territory, but started to move the ball quicker through midfield and into the Runcorn dee.

Whitchurch chances came thick and fast in the second half. Nick Cooper added a further two goals to complete an excellent hat trick but had a number of other efforts go narrowly wide or be well saved. Craig Hockenhull and Joe Faithfull both had shots well stopped on the line by Runcorn defenders. A number of short corners couldn’t be converted into goals and Martin Beecher hit the post with the ball ricocheting to safety. Joe Coburn came close to scoring on a couple of occasions, but eventually capped off an excellent second half on the left wing with a composed finish at the far post.

Runcorn still posed a threat with the big hits through the centre of the pitch, but James Partington, Danny Foulkes and Mark Sugden were equal to the task and other than a couple of saves from short corners and a goalmouth scramble in the first half, keeper Neil Jones was largely untroubled throughout the game. Wyn Morris had another excellent game in defence, making one fantastic tackle, when covering a Runcorn break from a Whitchurch short corner.

This was an excellent performance from Whitchurch and they more than merited their 4-0 win. The team moved the ball well through midfield and Nick Cooper and Martin Beecher were constant threats to the Runcorn goal. The young players continue to grow, with James Page having a particularly good second half. Joe Faithfull was unlucky not to score his first senior goal, and Euan Morris and Joe Coburn showed real maturity both in and out of possession, with Joe thoroughly deserving his goal.

This has been a season of development for the 2s with a number of 13 and 14 year olds making the step up from the academy. The team has played some really good hockey at times this season, but perhaps a lack of maturity has meant that sometimes the results haven’t reflected how well the team has played. In the last couple of games however, the addition of some experienced players to the talented crop of youngsters has seen the team’s performances reflected in the score lines.

A big “Thank You” to all players who have represented the 2s this season, and especially to Neil Jones for captaining the side again this year. Also a massive thanks to those that have umpired 2s games this season – Gary, Chris, Ben and Jess.