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.