Hockey: James' screamer drives Wilmslow’s title charge


Wilmslow Hockey Club men's 1st team welcomed Lytham to Oakwood Farm in the latest instalment of their thrilling promotion push.

As expected, Lytham began the game with a defensive mindset which stifled a number of early Wilmslow attacks. Wilmslow did however make the first breakthrough after good work from Pete Hallinan in the D led to an easy chance for Andy Hunt, who converted into the bottom corner as Wilmslow drew first blood.

This goal shocked Lytham into life, as a number of counter attacks were initially repelled by the Wilmslow defence. Poor marking in the defensive D eventually led to a short corner after Adam Ford made a sharp save, although Ford was unable to save the resulting corner as Lytham drew level with a short corner routine that resulted in the ball sneaking between Ford and Hallinan on the line.

Wilmslow regained the lead shortly after, as Mark Lumb found space to apply a smart finish at the end of a flowing Wilmslow move. The last 10 minutes of the first half was like watching paint dry, and half time gave Wilmslow coach Rob Turner an opportunity to give a rousing speech to his troops.

Wilmslow started the second period in a controlling fashion, and dominance in midfield and at the back enabled more attacking freedom to cut through Lytham. This pressure enabled Wilmslow to add to their tally as Lumb selflessly squared the ball for Hunt to tap in. It was an okay goal. Matt Westbrook increased the lead shortly after with a trademark drag flick low past the helpless Lytham goalkeeper from a penalty corner.

Wilmslow's intensity was creating space and chances around the opposition D. Steve Edmonds wriggled through the Lytham defence and the ball broke kindly for inspiring midfield dynamo Ben James, who on a rare foray forward managed to keep his composure and his eyes open and rocketed the ball into the roof of the net from the edge of the D to make it 5-1. The sheer beauty of the goal sparked wild celebrations from the Wilmslow players and loyal fans on the sideline. During a post-match interview, James agreed that it may well be considered the 'goal of the century' as he transcended into hockey legend.

The celebrations continued when Hunt completed his hat-trick after great work from Chris Stott, who stole the ball in midfield and broke forward before playing Hunt in with an accurate and 'intentional' reverse pass. Edmonds added his name to the scoresheet shortly afterwards, with a smart back foot shot across the goalkeeper into the corner after a strong run from Sam Dawson. By this point, top scorer Hallinan was craving a goal, and completed the scoring in the 8-1 victory with a composed finish into the top corner after a sharp counter attack.

Next up for Wilmslow is a top of the table clash with Brooklands, with Wilmslow looking to continue this season's impressive record.

The men's 2nd team produced one of their best away performances of the season to see off a strong Bramhall side 5-2, in a top of the table clash. They got off to a shaky start, finding themselves two-nil down in the opening five minutes, but after a tactical switch that saw Iain Campbell drop back into defence, Wilmslow showed their character as they mounted a stirring comeback.

Ric Pheiffer halved the deficit from a short corner before levelling matters with an angled shot that squirmed under the keeper. Paul Hallam then capped a fine performance with a well-taken finish under the advancing keeper, before James Bell's shot was illegally blocked on the line, presenting Pheiffer with the chance to complete a first-half hat-trick from the penalty spot. After the break the game was much tighter, the only goal coming from Matt Bonner after a well-executed short corner routine, Wilmslow's solid back line ensuring another important success for the high-flying visitors.

Elsewhere the men's 3rd team beat Triton 3-1, but the men's 4th team were unlucky to lose 5-4 to Sandbach. The ladies 1st team drew 1 all with Didsbury, whilst the ladies 2nd team displayed an outstanding performance against Bowdon to win 8-0 to put them 10 points clear at the top of the table, with 5 goals from Jen Nurmi, and Grace Kerner, Jacinta Kynaston and Jen Middleton-Egan all scoring 1 goal each. The ladies 3rd team showed great determination to draw 2 all with Whitchurch, with goals from Hannah Clare and Becki Eastwood. Whilst the ladies 4th team had an outstanding game beating Neston 13-2.

Match report by Amy Bracegirdle.

Hockey, Wilmslow Hockey Club