Old Southendians M1 - 2 Stevenage M1 – 2 (Blackburn 2 )
Stevenage had several players missing for their trip to league leaders Old Southendians on Saturday.
With no substitutes available the visitors knew that they were in for a tough afternoon and it was vital the side let the ball do the work and not tire themselves out too early. Early on the league leaders made some piercing attacks down their right wing and Tim Dingley was in fine form to keep the Southendian forwards at bay. Chris Strickland and Chris Perry were impressive all afternoon keeping the Stevenage defence firm against most threats, so it was harsh when the home side took the lead midway through the first half with a penalty corner which gave Dingley no chance of stopping as his defender left his right post unguarded. The goal however brought Stevenage to life and John Mould was destroying the home left back with some weaving runs, on one occasion he almost created an equaliser but the pass went between Gary Brown and Ben Oliver harmlessly going out of play.
Richard Hamilton then broke up play with a crucial challenge, his pass in turn found Matt Oliver who crossed for Danny Blackburn to fire home a crucial equaliser with a shot which flew in to the net right on half time.
The second half started well for Stevenage with a string of attacks, Mould and Brown working well with Hamilton and Van Eijl in the away midfield. John Mould was still causing problems for he home defence when a cynical foul on the skipper resulted in the Old Southendian defender being sin-binned. From the resulting free hit Mould put Blackburn in but his effort was well saved and Ben Oliver was unable to put away the rebound.
The home side also exerted pressure as was expected on Dingley’s goal but Chris Strickland again made some crucial interceptions with the help of Stevie Hamid and Matt Oliver at the back to keep their side level.
Stevenage then took the lead when Richard Hamilton crossed for Danny Blackburn too add his second of the day with a tidy finish which gave the keeper no chance as it flew in the roof of the net. At 2-1 Stevenage looked confident and capable of scoring another, however the visitors were reduced to ten men when Roddy Van Eijl was sin-binned for dissent. Worse was yet to come for Mould’s men when the league leaders took the lead from the next free hit and Ben Oliver was then harshly sin-binned also for dissent. With nine men on the field the Stevenage side defended superbly with a barrage of attacks from the Essex side being fought off. Late on Southendians had a last gasp short corner but again failed to capitalise on their advantage leaving the final score 2-2.
Stevenage L1 – 3 (Natalie Davis, Jude Weston, Heather Hemmings) Wapping L2 – 6
Stevenage ladies faced a tough game against top of the league Wapping after a few weeks off. The first half saw them play how Wapping wanted them to, even though Stevenage had some great chances with Caz Ayles hitting both posts they just couldnt find the back of the net meaning they were 3-0 down at half time.
Stevenage pulled it together and showed fantastic team spirit throughout the second half with new girl Natalie Davis and Judith Weston scoring in quick succession. Stevenage were passing the ball well and had great movement especially down the right between MoM Jo Biggs and Jude Weston, but Wapping attacked hard and fast resulting in them scoring another goal. Instead of Stevenage letting their heads go down they fought well leading to Heather Hemmings scoring bringing the score closer yet again. Unfortunately Wapping scored again bringing the score to 5-3, even so, Stevenage played some fantastic hockey and can go onto next weeks game full of confidence.
M2 Won: Stevenage - 3 (Dan Farnham, Chris Watson, Andrew Gardner) Hertford - 1
M3 Won: Winchmore Hill - 3 Stevenage - 4 (Bailey Dingley, Nick Crocker 3) The league leaders travelled to Winchmore Hill & Enfield this week to face a team currently propping up the foot of the table. However, the opponents were not to be underestimated as the start of the game saw chances being created for either side. Stevenage went close on a few occasions with Bailey Dingley and Nick Crocker forcing some excellent saves from the home sides keeper. The pressure eventually paid off with Crocker converting a well executed short corner to put Stevenage ahead. Shortly after Crocker had his second of the game after a neat one-two with Ian Wilcox from a short corner allowed him to flick home from short range. The remainder of the first half followed much of the same pattern with the away team pushing for more goals and the home side restricted to a few breakaway opportunities that were swiftly mopped up by a solid Stevenage defensive line welcoming back the ever consistent Tony Farnham.
Stevenage started slowly after the break and allowed the home side more possession of the ball, this soon paid off with a goal for the home side from a breakaway attack. It wasn't long before Winchmore Hill and Enfield levelled the match as Stevenage continued to give possession away far too easily, this time the home side converted from a short corner. Things were looking better for Stevenage as they managed to re-gather themselves and push ahead looking to retake the lead. Possibly having his best game of the season, Harry Wheeler (left) came close on a few occasions, hitting the outside of the post on one occasion. Against the run of play however, the home team stole the lead after a controversial ball lifted into the D was converted by the home teams winger. This only spurred Stevenage on and with only 7 minutes left they managed to score a dramatic equaliser, with Dingley scoring from close range. The very next attack was to lead to a short corner for the visitors which was flicked into the top corner by Crocker, not only sealing his hat-trick and winning the match but capping off a man of the match performance.
This win maintained the 5 point gap at the top of the league in the push for promotion for the Mens 3s.
M4 Won: Stevenage - 2 (Khalid Mehmood, Ian Brown) Blueharts - 1
M5 Won: Stevenage M6 - 0 Stevenage M5 - 7 (Paul Spicer, Andy Davies 2, Michael Tyler, Kevin Robbins 2, Dave Wells) Saturday saw the start of a return to form for the 5s, who were 'away' to the the 6s, and needing to improve goal difference to solidify their somewhat precarious position at the top of the league. Despite missing a number of key players this week, the 5s still managed to find 13 players, including several relatively new or returning players, including Paul Spicer, who started the scoring after about 5 minutes. Half-time saw a score of 4-0, with further goals from Andy Davis, Michael Tyler and new boy Kevin Robbins. The second half's highlights included a penalty flick scored by Andy Davis after a Dave Wells short-corner was kicked off the line by a defender, a further short-corner goal from Wells being disallowed, and further goals from Robbins and Wells, closing the game at 7-0. An encouraging improvement for the 5s, who found the home side vastly improved since the beginning of the season, with recent exercises on the training field definitely showing through, and a good practice for next week's tricky fixture against Luton.
M6 Lost: Stevenage M6 - 0 Stevenage M5 - 7
L2 Drew: Stevenage - 0 St Neots - 0
L3 Lost: Leighton Buzzard - 3 Stevenage - 0
L4 Lost: Bedford - 6 Stevenage - 0
L5 Lost: Saffron Walden - 4 Stevenage - 2