THE leading Wirral hockey clubs have enjoyed successful runs in the early days of the season, but recent injuries have caused a number of selection problems and both Oxton and Bebington crashed to disappointing defeats last weekend.
Oxton's failure to apply the finishing touch in the circle cost them three points when Wigan won 2-0 at Birkenhead School, completing a league double in the last month.
Oxton dominated a goalless first half while Wigan defended in depth. But a penalty stroke awarded for a foot stop on the line gave Wigan their opening goal and they added a second 10 minutes from the end.
Oxton complete their pre-Christmas programme with tough games against Southport at home next Saturday (2pm) and Harrogate away.
Bebington have sustained three serious facial injuries in the last five weeks and Glen Costain was the most recent casualty in Sunday's cup tie at Bridgnorth. They held firm after Richie Little's early penalty corner goal but Bridgnorth snapped up four goals in the last half-hour to go through to the third round.
John McMullen's hand injury kept him out of both games over the weekend and a late Maccles-field penalty stroke earned them a narrow 3-2 win in a scrappy league contest between two poor sides.
Richie Little scored both Bebington goals but they will need to find improved form if they are to beat Crewe Vagrants at Sutton High School this Saturday (1.30pm).
RESULTS North Hockey League Division One: Bowdon 2 Hull 1; Chester 3 Deeside Ramblers 4; Durham University 0 Brooklands MU 3; Springfields 2 Doncaster 2; Tynemouth 3 Leeds University 3. Division Two West: Bolton 2 Didsbury Northern 2; Cheetham Heywood 2 Manchester Leigh 6; City of Manchester 0 Crewe Vagrants 0; Macclesfield 3 Bebington 2; Northop Hall 1 Lytham St Annes 0; Wrexham 4 Formby 3.
North West League Division One: Bramhall 2 Colwyn Bay 2; Glaxo 2 Knutsford 2; Morecambe 4 Liverpool University 2; Nelson & Rossendale 2 Timperley 0; Northern 2 Neston South Wirral 0; Prescot 3 Winnington Park 0.