Whitchurch Mens 1s 1 – Birkenhead Mens 1s 3
Whitchurch travelled to Birkenhead for their first away-game of the season, against a team that had mirrored the Reds’ own quick rise through the lower two divisions of the league. Birkenhead were a team of skilful, seasoned players who immediately put the Whitchurch defence under heavy and persistent pressure. With the 2s match postponed, Danny Foulkes stepped up to the 1s to combine with James Partington in central defence, flanked by Tom Forster and Airan Jones, and worked well to repel the well-worked plays down both wings. Marking was tight, with Jones having an exceptional game on the left, often nullifying their right wing’s impact and forcing them to recycle across the pitch.
In the middle Jack Barnes again had a strong controlling role, commanding the centre and getting the ball out wide to Alex Fry and Ben Kimberley in the midfield, and then up to Sam Conway on the right, Nick Cooper in the middle and Fred Egerton on the left. Cooper and Egerton also stepped up from the 2s and had solid games, helping the 1s get through their player shortage – Ben Fry’s injuries from last week mean a few weeks away from the team – but were often cut out from the match by a solid midfield and defence combined with a high press from Birkenhead. That pressure finally told, after several important saves, with a drive down the right ending in a shot being well blocked initially by Paul “Sturge” Leigh in goal but rebounding into the path of a striker and the shot was put away well.
Whitchurch responded strongly and thought they had got an equaliser from a short corner, but Conway’s clean strike through to the back of the net was disallowed as the umpire had blown to give Whitchurch another short corner just as the ball was struck. It was with some frustration that half time came with the Reds 1-0 down, but the talk from captain Fry was about continuing to do well the things they had been doing well during the first half, whilst maintaining a bit more composure on the ball.
The second half started in the same vein, and some excellent work from all led to a pass from Conway to Barnes to Cooper ending with Kimberley being able to put the ball over the keeper. Again, Whitchurch thought they had another goal, from Cooper at a short corner, but it was ruled out after some confusion from the umpires over which of the various line markings on the pitch the ball needed to have crossed.
At this point frustrations showed from both teams, and an over-zealous tackle and reaction saw a player from each team receive a yellow-card. The pressure was back on immediately, and Sturge in goal was instrumental in keeping the scoreline steady: his saves stopped several goals, and allowed the defence to clear with confidence. Unfortunately, a quick sixteen taken from deep in the Reds’ dee was cut out by the retreating Birkenhead forwards and drilled back into the Whitchurch goal. This was followed shortly by the best goal of the game as Birkenhead put together a flowing move and managed to get a sharp ball through the Reds’ defence to a striker on the back post who was able to guide the ball home for their third.
The game ended 3-1 to Birkenhead, but there were a lot of positives to take from the game: strong defence, good marking, good movement going forward and, perhaps critically, no goals scored from the many short corners that Birkenhead won. This was mostly down to the man-of-the-match, Sturge, commanding his dee and ensuring that the scoreline was fair in a match that could easily have gone either way. Whitchurch are at home next week to Runcorn 3s.
Oxon ladies 2s 0 Whitchurch ladies 3s 1
Whitchurch ladies 1s travelled to West Kirby to play 3rd in the division Oxton 2s. Knowing it was going to be a tough game Whitchurch held positions and made it very difficult for Oxton to make any headway towards the goal.
Accurate passes and good communication payed off for Whitchurch as their first goal was scored from a slap into the dee by Sophie Ward to Hebe Dixon, slipping to Grace Berry on post to score.
Oxton kept on hitting through mid field with big hits for defence Millie Edwards and Catherine Reese-Gresty to collect and send back up to mid players Lisa Sullivan, Stephanie Stanton and Helen Machin. Whitchurch had a run of short corners which resulted in Hebe Dixon scoring from a straight strike. Whitchurch players Ellie Windsor and Catherine Winter-Gresty kept firing balls into the Oxton dee allowing Whitchurch plenty of shots on goal and also keeping Oxton defence on their toes.
After half time Oxton pushed hard passing up the pitch making Whitchurch keeper Maddy Sugden make an amazing save, but then Oxton were awarded a short. Whitchurch came out fast with Catherine Winter-Gresty reaching the ball and deflecting away from goal.
As Oxton tired Whitchurch kept the pressure on and managed a third goal, Lisa Sullivan fired into the dee and Jessica Carruthers flicked over the keeper. With 5 minutes to go Whitchurch ladies were strong and held together for a very well deserved 3-0 win. Ellie Windsor received the match players player for her outstanding play.
Ladies 1s play at home next week against Winnington Park 2s.
Whitchurch ladies 3s 1 Wilmslow ladies 5s 1
It was a great match for the Ladies 3rds on saturday, with them gaining their first point of the season. Whitchurch started off strong, with some promising runs made down the middle of the pitch, and some close shots narrowly missing the goal. Izzy Huxley made some fantastic attacks down the wing, finishing with some great shots at the goal by Sue Read. Whitchurch kept up their determined play, with Mel Reid and Jan Teggin forming a solid defence at the back of the pitch, and fending off all of Wilmslow’s attacks on goal. Unfortunately, by half time, no goals were scored, despite their advantage in possession, keeping the score at 0-0.
After half time, Whitchurch went back on, feeling energised, and as persistent as in the first half. Early on in the second half, Caitlin Edwards managed to score a lovely goal, putting Whitchurch one goal up. They kept this up, with Annie leigh and Caitlin Shaw making some promising runs down the side. Whitchurch maintained their lead for most of the quarter, with some incredible defending form Martha Teggin, and some brilliant saves from their keeper, Louis Cotteril. Unluckily, in the last 10 minutes of the game, Wilmslow managed to come back and scored a goal, evening out the score to 1-1. Whitchurch continued to battle to try to win back this goal, but were unsuccessful, concluding their game with a draw off 1-1.
Caitlin Edwards was awarded player of the match.
Both the ladies and men’s 2s games were cancelled as their opposition failed to raise teams.