Whitchurch started the season with all teams picking up points in the opening weekend
The ladies 1s and 3s both picked up points as the opposition failed to raise a team and subsequently were awarded the games.
Lymm Men’s 3s 1 – 2 Whitchurch Men’s 2s
Whitchurch Men’s 2s got their season underway with a hard-earned 2-1 victory away to Lymm 3s.
Both sides had flirted with relegation last season, so this was always going to be an important fixture for the two teams, even this early in the season. With home advantage, Lymm dominated possession in the early stages of the game. The much-changed Whitchurch side struggled to find their passes, and Lymm were quick to press forward on turnovers.
The away side’s defence, ably led by Danny Foulkes, repelled any Lymm forays. Lucas Hill and Airan Jones provided excellent cover and the home side struggled to make any progress into the Whitchurch dee.
Slowly, the Reds worked their way into the game and started to pose a threat on the counterattack. With Jacob Buckeridge and Ethan Gresty driving from midfield and penetrating runs on the right by Alfie Edwards on the right and Oliver Edwards on the left, Whitchurch were able to get the ball up to Craig Hockenhull in attack and threaten the Lymm goal.
The home keeper made a couple of useful saves from Hockenhull and a series of short corners came and went for Whitchurch.
With the game much more even in the latter stages of the first half, more short corners were won by Whitchurch. Eventually a clever shift of the ball by Hockenhull gave Gresty the chance to pick his spot and fire home the first goal of the game.
Another flurry of Whitchurch short corners followed the restart, and smart movement from Harry Foulkes, latching onto another clever Hockenhull pass, saw Foulkes fire the Reds into a 2-0 half-time lead.
Lymm reorganised for the start of the second half. A loss of possession in midfield caught Whitchurch out of position and allowed Lymm to quickly halve the deficit. But Whitchurch dug in.
Lymm enjoyed plenty of possession throughout the second half but struggled to break through the Reds defence. Chances for the home side were few and far between thanks to excellent defending throughout the team and a couple of useful clearances by Doug Buckeridge.
Despite not enjoying as much of the ball, Whitchurch were still a threat on the counterattack. Lucas Hill had an excellent half, stepping in to dispossess Lymm players and start attacks. Ollie Hayward and Charlie Edwards were tireless in providing options wide, and the midfield 3 of Gresty, Jacob Buckeridge and Harry Foulkes were a constant threat breaking into the Lymm dee to support Hockenhull.
Neither side could add to their goal tally and Whitchurch ran out winners by the odd goal in three. Either side could have won the game, but Whitchurch made the most of their opportunities and worked hard to keep hold of their lead.
Three 13-year-olds played their first matches in senior hockey, and none of Charlie Edwards, Ollie Hayward or Alfie Edwards looked out of place in the team. And the other young lads in Harry Foulkes, Lucas Hill and Oliver Edwards all continued their excellent progress from last season. It might be another challenging season for the Reds, but they have a win on the board and there are lots of reasons to be pleased with this game and to be optimism for the future.
The 2s next game is at home to Alderley Edge s on Saturday 1st October.
Whitchurch Men’s 1s 4 – Lymm Men’s 2s 0
Whitchurch started their season in fine fashion this week with a strong 4-0 win against Lymm, who fielded a young-but-talented team whose inexperience was more than made up for with speed and skill.
Both teams needed a few minutes to find their rhythm, but the game settled into a high-tempo affair, with both sides winning and losing the ball in midfield until the additional width from Whitchurch started to pay dividends and stretched the play and provide opportunities for attacks. It was a quick counter-attack that brought the first goal for Whitchurch, after Lymm’s strong work down the right broke down and a clearance freed Martin Beecher to run up the right and, while his initial shot was blocked, George Latham was on hand to pick up his first of the season, tidying up the rebound nicely.
Beecher picked up his own goal shortly after, as another break by Whitchurch gave him the time and space to run into the Lymm dee and his shot was strong enough to break through the block by the keeper and continue on into the goal. Whitchurch’s third goal was surrounded by some controversy as the ball had hit Tom Forster’s body, but it was off a Lymm stick so advantage was played and, while everyone else paused for a whistle that never came, Forster got a clean strike away and put the Reds three up at the break. Lymm could have got one back, but Paul “Sturge” Leigh was his ever-dependable self, with a diving save with his stick keeping out the opposition’s best chance.
The half-time talk by new 1s captain Jack Barnes was a recognition of the good things that had been done in the first half, and the encouragement to play to the Reds’ strengths in the second. Lymm were piling on the pressure and were unlucky not to capitalise on their hard-won short corner, but the Whitchurch defence was resolute and were able to turn that defence into quicker attack. Again, taking advantage of a quick break, Luke Beddow was clear in on goal with only the keeper to beat but was cleared out by the onrushing goalie – Joe Coburn stepped up to force the subsequent penalty stroke in, despite the keeper’s best efforts.
The last minutes of the game involved a number of chances from Whitchurch, with balls going just inches wide of the posts and some excellent passages of play with lovely one-touch passing and training-ground moves being implemented at pace and with precision. Lymm were not going down without a fight, and their attacks put the Reds under some pressure, but Sturge was on form again and Whitchurch worked well as a team to keep the ball safe until the final whistle.
A solid start to the season, with some great work but also things to work on. The 1s are away next week to Manchester 1s – a renamed team from one of the tougher matches last year, so will look to build on their success this week.
Alderley Edge Ladies 6s 0 Whitchurch Ladies 2s 5
After super success in the summer sevens league, the ladies 2’s went out feeling confident, for the first game of the season.
Whitchurch immediately dominated the game, with Jasmine Williams and Heidi Carr fearlessly driving forward and setting an unbreakable press on the opposition. Superstar sibling duo Sophie and Phoebe Jones worked tirelessly in the dee, with a plethora of shots on goal. Almost instantaneously, Whitchurch scored their first goal, with Lydia Jones expertly slotting the ball past the keeper. This boosted their moral, rapidly resulting in a first-class (first ever!) goal, from captain Emma Stubbs. Ever prevalent in the opposition’s half, the attacks made by Poppy Huxley and Louis Whitley created a multitude of short corners, which Molly Fry converted into their 3rd goal, flicking the ball into the net. The final goal of the half came from Phoebe Jones, beautifully scoring another short corner from the back post, and leaving Whitchurch 4-0 up as the half time whistle sounded.
Rejuvenated after their Haribo’s and (vegan) fruit pastilles, Whitchurch returned, ready to defend their lead. Hermione Ball and Rachel Chester’s unabatedly deterred any breaks from Alderley Edge, with Megan Nicholson making an awe-inspiring dive to protect Whitchurch’s clean sheet. The ball weaved through the opposition, ever glued to Holly Gilbert’s stick. After a cross into Jas Williams, the ball once again flew past the helpless goalkeeper, leaving Whitchurch 5-0 up as the game drew to a close.
A triumphant victory for the ladies has left them with high hopes for next week’s game against Golborne. Molly Fry was awarded player of the match.