Alderley Edge Men’s 4s 2 Whitchurch Men’s 1s 6
Whitchurch put together two halves of great hockey this week away to a strong Alderley Edge team, finally bringing together all of the positive points of the recent second halves into one game to bring back all three points from a tough encounter.
Alderley Edge were strong in the previous fixture, so the Reds knew they had to play well to win and captain Jack Barnes re-employed the three-at-the-back formation that had worked well in the previous game, and it was again a solid base for the whole game. Along with 2s keeper Neil Jones in goal covering for Sturge, it could have been a weakness with less familiarity, but instead of was a strength as Jones was on fine form making multiple critical saves, and Sam Conway controlled the centre of defence, with Will Snaith on the right and James Partington on the left. Between them, they had significant periods with the ball, just transferring it left and right, taking time to choose a good ball out rather than rushing.
That then let the midfield, with Barnes supported by Jon Gilbert, Joe Coburn and Phil Handley, have time to get into good positions which then meant the balls out were effective and productive, and that gave Martin Beecher up front, with Tom Forster and Ethan Gresty on the wings time to go on runs that put the Alderley Edge players under pressure. With Tom Edwards and Joe Chesters continuing to do great work stepping up to the 1s, the team had energy, confidence and control on a good pitch which let their talents shine.
The first Reds goal came from a short corner where the ball was switched back to Forster who’d injected it, and he was able to put it through the keeper’s legs. Another short corner had the wide drag out go to Gilbert who squared it to Barnes who put it away confidently, and let the Reds go in to half time two-nil up. The half-time talk this week was just “more of the same, please!”, and so it was to be: Forster, clearly going for Goal of the Season, scored a blinder in the top left roof of the goal from the right-hand side of the dee, completing a move that started at the back from Conway passing to Gilbert who fired it to Coburn who drove the line before crossing to Forster. Forster scored again, with a far less showy, far more bouncy shot a few minutes later to have Alderley Edge reeling at four down.
However, this Alderley Edge team was good: skilful players who worked well as a team and had been unlucky on several occasions not to complete moves or score. Rather than let their heads drop, they started putting two men high to pressure the Whitchurch defence, and it proved effective as they picked up two goals from short corners in quick succession. They could have had a couple more, with an overload failing with the last touch as Jones rushed out to pressurise the attacker, and more short corners which the Reds did well to keep out.
Whitchurch regrouped and looked to find the confident control and passing from earlier in the game and it worked, with a short corner being put away by Barnes with a shot from the right deflecting off a defender’s stick, before Forster scooped up his fourth of the day with Edwards firing a ball across the goal for him to slap in.
The Reds could have had more – Beecher was unlucky with a couple of shots which would also have been in the mix for season awards had they been a few inches the other way – but the game ended 6-2 to Whitchurch which was a great reflection of the quality effort put in by the whole team. They have a bye week next week but will look to repeat the whole-game quality going into their remaining games of the season.
Alderley Edge Ladies 5s 0 Whitchurch Ladies 1s 6
Whitchurch Ladies 1 travelled away to play a very young Alderley Edge 5s team.
Five minutes in and Whitchurch had taken strong possession with several attacks on goal for them to win a penalty corner. A straight strike from Captain Cath Gresty was deflected from an Edge player up over the keeper, into the net.
Spirits high, the play was smooth from Whitchurch, passing up the middle from Lisa Sullivan, Molly Fry and Mollie Bell, waiting in the dee was Valerie Fabery to receive for a reverse shot into the net.
2-0 up for Whitchurch and they calmed the play, allowing Edge to move up the pitch but defence Hayleigh Busby and Jasmin Williams fought off their attacks passing out wide to Tilly James and Poppy Huxley. It wasn’t long before the midfield players again picked out Georgia Munro in the dee to slip to Gresty to push past the keeper.
A run of penalty corners came for Whitchurch, Edge held Whitchurch off for a few, but then Fabery got the ball to make it 4-0 at half time.
A quick turnaround as it was cold and Whitchurch wanted to get back to the game. As at the start Whitchurch passed around well but Alderley Edge were putting plenty of pressure on and looked keen to get on the match sheet, a couple of penalty corners for Edge but were defended strongly with keeper Holly Edwards clearing the ball out wide.
Whitchurch picked up the pace again and Sullivan picked out Gresty alone in the dee to strike onto the back board.
Lovely play up the wing from Bell and Munro found Valerie Fabery waiting on the edge of the dee to make a beautiful reverse shot to make it 6-0. All the play seemed to be in the Edge half now, Whitchurch hungry to make the next goal as it would be their 100th of the season, but time wasn’t on their side and whistle went.
Another good 6-0 result for Whitchurch, playing at home to see who can score first next week!
Winnington Park Ladies 2s Whitchurch Ladies 2s 1
Whitchurch entertained a strong Winnington Team looking for promotion. Despite the efforts of the ladies Winnington continued to score as the game went on and took a deserved victory. Whitchurch scored a consolation goal in the final minutes from a Poppy Gilbert strike.