Hockey: Injury hit Wilmslow defy the odds


Gateshead 1 Wilmslow 4

Wilmslow men's 1st team made the long trip North East for the second consecutive game to play bottom of the league Gateshead. Injuries to almost half the first team squad meant that only 11 men were available for a game for the first time this season.

Wilmslow started with good possession and won two corners which they couldn't convert. Gateshead made a number of fast counter attacks and after a smart save by Si Pickering, Gateshead pounced on a loose ball to take the lead.

Wilmslow responded by building some good attacks through the midfield trio of Matt Westbrook, Will Townley and Ben James, and after a flowing move Jack Wright ghosted into the D to level the scores.

Tom Davenport and Cam Armstrong dominated the Gateshead defence for the remainder of the half but the Gateshead keeper was the man who couldn't be moved and the sides went into the break even.

Wilmslow started the second half on the front foot and a slick behind the back pass from Bas Steffens set up Westbrook to wang a shot in at the near post from a corner. Wilmslow were now on top form like the good ol' days and Gateshead seemed to be none the wiser to Pete Hallinan who snuck in behind the defence to make it 3-1.

Shortly after, Andy Hunt won the ball at the back and found Martin Wright who strode forward through the rain and started a wonderful counter attack that flowed back to front, left to right, and ended with Hallinan adding his second goal to put the game beyond doubt.

This was an excellent, controlled second half performance that was not always in "The Script" after break even at half time. A performance for the Wilmslow hall of fame from Wilmslow's 11 superheroes.

Wilmslow ladies 1s played host to an unusually low table Oldham 1s this Saturday. Knowing this can be a bit of a 'bogey team' for them, captain Kelman was the first to remind the ladies "Whatever you do, don't underestimate them".

The visitors started well, with some quick passing and smooth transfers, teasing Wilmslow to come on over if they dare. The hosts held their patience and it wasn't long before a loose ball was intercepted and possession gained.

Within 5 minutes a quick long corner saw Hall pass to Harrison who in turn found Westbrook unmarked near the shoulder of the D. A perfectly timed slap was sent to Rachubka, who expertly deflected it high into the roof of the net making it 1-0.
From this moment on, Wilmslow were on the front foot.

With lovely passing from Walters, Troup and E. Kelman, forwards Senior and Botha repeatedly forced saves from the Oldham keeper. It was during one of these skirmishes that Rachubka once again found herself perfectly positioned to reverse flick the ball into the back of the net, doubling both her and Wilmslow's goal tally.

With the home side forcing more errors, a series of short corners ensued. A neat top D routine with Westbrook saw MOTM Rachubka strike the ball seamlessly into the backboard for her hat trick just before the end of the first half.

With the scoreline at 3-0, returning guest coach Edmonds told the girls "That don't impress me much. Stay calm, don't be stupid and just keep possession", the ladies returned to the pitch determined for more.

With the coach's words ringing in their ears, the ladies knew they could rock this if they stayed focused. High work rate and intense pressure created more chances and forced repeated saves from an excellent Oldham keeper. Eventually the wall gave way as Hall, finding herself unusually high in the D, calmly reverse lifted the ball over the keeper to take the lead to 4.

With Wilmslow holding on to possession for long periods, the visitors were clearly becoming increasingly frustrated.

Lovely out-letting from Fleming and Kelman repeatedly found midfielders Loughlin and 1st team debutant Honey Dickinson, who put in an excellent performance in her first North Hockey game.

Despite some breaks by an experienced and skilful Oldham front line, the home side defensive unit stayed solid with keeper Lang only being called into action once or twice.

With the rain still pouring down and mascara well and truly running, it was black eyes and blue tears for Oldham as the final whistle came with a 4-0 victory for Wilmslow.

A dominant performance proving Wilmslow are still the one's to beat so far this season.

The ladies travel to nearby Triton this weekend, where they hope to prove that the best team in Orange plays in Styal.

Match report by Steve Kinsella.

Hockey, Wilmslow Hockey Club