Match Reports 08/12/18

Warrington ladies 2s 0   Whitchurch ladies 1s 6

Whitchurch finished top of Cheshire Division 3 as they entered the Christmas break!

Whitchurch ladies 1s travelled away to play Warrington 2s this Saturday. Although the weather was not on their side, Whitchurch were keen to come out strong and get a win to end this half of the season on a high. Whitchurch dominated from the start, pressurising the Warrington defence. Midfielders Catherine Winter-Gresty, Lisa Sullivan and Hebe Dixon made some excellent runs, dodging the Warrington defence into the dee but struggled to find the back of the net due to some excellent saves from the Warrington keeper.

After a sequence of shorts corners awarded to Whitchurch, they were able to open the scoring. After a rebound off the keeper, Grace Berry was able to find space between the defence and push the ball into the right corner of the goal. Just moments after their first goal, Whitchurch were back on the attack with some lightning runs down the right from Sophie Ward and Ellie Windsor, they were able to find Hebe Dixon in the middle of the pitch who used her 3D skills to get around the keeper and smash the ball into the back of the net.

After a positive half time team talk, Whitchurch were determined to increase their goal difference in the second half, which started with another string of short corners for Whitchurch, during which Sullivan found space to flick the ball past the keeper, giving them their third goal of the match. However, with some big hits from the back, Warrington made a break putting pressure on the Whitchurch defence and keeper Gwyn Thomas-Rees. Defenders Millie Edwards, Martha Teggin and Catherine Reece-Gresty made some great tackles stopping the Warrington attack in their tracks.

After this Izzy Huxley and Jessica Carruthers made some incisive one twos down the central channel of the pitch, putting increasing pressure on the Warrington keeper and finding Dixon who calmly slotted the ball into the left-hand corner of the goal. Another short corner followed this, and after a battle on the line, Grace Berry found the back of the net giving Whitchurch their fifth. Whitchurch continued to maintain their dominance for the rest of the match and using great communication and focused passing they held most of the possession. In the final five minutes of the game, after some lovely passing down the middle of the pitch from Lisa Sullivan and Catherine Winter-Gresty, Berry was able to dribble into the dee and fire Whitchurch’s final goal past the keeper, getting her a hat trick.

Lymm Men’s 2s 3   Whitchurch Men’s 1s 2

Whitchurch travelled away to Lymm this week to start the return fixtures for the season and played against a well-drilled and skilful Lymm team who had been excellent opponents in the opening game of the year. Whitchurch started brightly and put together some good hockey in the first half, with good movement and passing. Lymm, in turn, were strong down their wings and Paul “Sturge” Leigh was called on in goal a number of times when the Lymm attackers had slipped their markers.

As play went on, the heavens opened, and the pitch – still recovering from a soaking during the previous game that day – started to pool with water and control and stability started to suffer slightly. It was during this that a Lymm tackle sent the ball flying up directly into Danny Foulkes’ head causing a significant injury which meant he could take no further part in the game. Whitchurch had taken a substitute for the game, which was now critical, and had to restructure the defence with Tom Forster now pairing with James Partington in the centre, and Fred Egerton picking up at right back with Airan Jones continuing to develop well at left back.

Thankfully during this reorganisation the forwards got more of the ball, and a good run into the dee and a number of passes left Craig Hockenhull able to flick the ball into the centre of the netting for the Reds’ first. The game then settled as Alex Fry, Ben Kimberley and Jack Barnes took control of the centre of the field, distributing the ball well to Sam Conway and Hockenhull out wide, and Nick Cooper was a constant threat in the Lymm dee. Whitchurch went into half-time with a deserved but slim lead, and the half-time talk was just about having more of the same good work.

The second half started well, and the highlight saw Barnes run down the left-hand side of the pitch from near the halfway line, past most of the Lymm team and then drive in along the baseline until he could get the ball past the keeper on the near post for the Reds’ second. It was then that two things happened to change the match for Whitchurch: the Lymm formation changed, and those changes weren’t picked up well at all; and Whitchurch allowed themselves to get frustrated again by perceived inconsistencies in the umpiring.

Arguing with officials helps no team, so it was frustrating for Whitchurch letting their concentration drop, especially as Lymm took full advantage. Two quick goals came, as they broke their markers and arrived in the Whitchurch dee in numbers, and were able to work the overload despite some incredible saves by Sturge. The defending and marking from static play was good – Lymm would often have to go back from free hits or sideline balls – but the marking in fluid play was not good enough, and it was some excellent work by Lymm to break free in the last two minutes and get a shot in which Partington partially blocked, but only into the path of the striker who put it over Sturge for the third and decisive goal.

Whitchurch stay in the upper half of the table, but it continues to be a very tightly contested league with only a few points separating a number of teams. They will look to build on the good progress seen at times throughout the games so far to make the 2019 half of the season a successful one.

Whitchurch Men’s 2s 4 Runcorn Men’s 3s 0

Whitchurch Men’s 2s welcomed Runcorn 3s to SJT on Saturday afternoon with the Reds looking to build on a really good performance last time out and try to get their first points of the season before the Christmas break. In the reverse fixture, earlier this season, the 2s had played really well but ended up on the wrong side of a tight score line.

The Reds started brightly and immediately went on the front foot. The midfield three of Richard Leigh, Paul Humphries and Joe Coburn got control in the middle of the pitch, breaking up play and neatly passing their way forward, using Ethan Gresty and Joe Faithfull to provide width on the flanks.

Runcorn were defending deep in their own half and relying on big hits down field to create their own attacking moments. But Iain Bones and Doug Buckeridge in the centre of defence were picking up everything and moving the ball calmly into midfield where the Whitchurch restarted their own attacks. Runcorn couldn’t make any progress in wide areas either, with Wyn Morris and Brendan Coburn constantly nicking the ball away from their opponents and driving forward into the visitors’ half.

Whitchurch started to create chances and win short corners, and midway through the half a short corner routine didn’t quite go to plan, but the team improvised brilliantly and after forcing a couple of saves from the Runcorn keeper, the ball was fired across goal and Richard Leigh swept home his first ever goal to open the scoring for Whitchurch.

The Reds continued to drive forward with control and invention, and more chances came and went. Ethan Gresty and Jacob Buckeridge both had chances to shoot at goal, but were unable to make the keeper work. Joe Coburn, Joe Faithfull and Euan Morris all forced the keeper to make saves, but Whitchurch were unable to increase their lead.

Although the Whitchurch goal was relatively untroubled for most of the half, the Reds lost a little control in midfield as subs rotated on, and Runcorn did get one good chance which was brilliantly saved by keeper Gareth Teggin.

The early stages of the second half were much more even. A tactical change from the visitors saw them looking to play more through midfield rather than bypass the middle of the pitch and the rotation of Whitchurch substitutes in midfield disrupted the Reds’ own momentum. The Whitchurch defence continued to restrict the away side, although Teggin did produce another really good save to preserve the home side’s lead.

As the half wore on, the Runcorn players became frustrated and as tempers frayed, at perceived injustices, the umpires started to show cards to the visiting players. This coincided with Whitchurch getting a grip of midfield and the home side proceeded to ruthlessly exploit their numerical advantage.

First Paul Humphries brilliantly drove into the dee and squared for Euan Morris to flick high into the net to double Whitchurch’s lead. This was quickly followed by another sharp piece of play from a long corner where Richard Leigh fed the ball to Euan in the dee and he again flicked the ball past the visiting keeper.

Runcorn did try to press for a goal of their own, but as Whitchurch regained possession their sharp passing through the middle of the pitch brought them more and more chances. Luke Beddow was finding great space on the right and his crosses into the dee caused the visitors all sorts of problems. Despite missed chances, good blocks and smart saves, Whitchurch were not to be denied and Euan Morris duly completed his hat trick when he slammed the ball home after a melee in the Runcorn dee.

As Runcorn returned to full strength they pushed forward looking for a late consolation goal. Phil Tranter and Will Snaith bolstered the Whitchurch midfield and helped the home side see out the game with a clean sheet.

In the end, the 4-0 win was thoroughly deserved. Whitchurch played some excellent hockey, which combined with their high work rate was too much for an experienced Runcorn side. Paul Humphries added some experience to the midfield and Joe Coburn continued to show his huge potential with his ability to win the ball and instigate attacks with his ball carrying or passing.

The defence, supported by the midfield, were again excellent, but Gareth Teggin continues to improve in goal. Always alert and always communicating with the defenders, he made two good, important saves with the score at 1-0. At his current rate of improvement, injured captain and regular keeper Neil Jones might struggle to get his place back!

And a final mention to Richard “Tricky Dicky” Leigh, who thoroughly deserved his first ever goal at ripe old age of ….

The Men’s 2s now have a long Christmas break until they play next, away to Bebington, on 19th January.