SATURDAY 7 JANUARY 2012

M5 Won Friendly: Stevenage - 4  Saffron Waldon - 0 (Sam Hobbs, Dave Wells 2, Stuart Jones)  A juicy start to the new year for the 5s, with a friendly against (on paper at least) the more challenging Saffron Waldon 6s. A very satisfying return to form for the home side, who completely outperformed the visitors to a 4-0 win. Goals from Sam Hobbs, two for the Christmas cheese-laden captain, and who'd have guessed it - a surprise goal for lost midfielder Stuart Jones! Notable performances from Michael Tyler, Graham Spicer, and a tentative return from 6 months of injury for last year's Player of the Season Mic Cornell. Bring on the league games...

SATURDAY 14 JANUARY 2012

Crostyx L2 - 0   Stevenage L1 – 1 (Sacha Parker)
Stevenage ladies started back with a trip to Crostyx on Saturday, a team they'd beaten with ease at home, but they knew they'd be in for a tougher game this time round. Stevenage played their game and dominated play throughout, starting with some solid defending from Jo Howlett, Jenny Harding and Rachel Jeffrey, giving keeper Lisa Pickard little to do apart from a couple of key saves. Sophie Hoskins pushing on through the middle kept great pressure on the opposition and they found it difficult to get out of their own half. Crostyx managed to go into half time still nil a piece with their keeper having denied shots from both Ellie Biggs and Caz Ayles.
In the second half Stevenage came out very determined to win this game and put immense pressure on Crostyx from the word go, and as they did the home side got riled and an attempt on goal for them left Rachel Jeffrey with a third knee. Carly Seaton slipped into defence and commanded the Stevenage team who gave 100% throughout and should have been at least 3-0 up! Stevenage kept their cool and continued to play fantastic hockey with key runs from the wing players Jude Weston and Sacha Parker.  In the last 5 mins Lucy Harvey skilfully won Stevenage a short corner which was calmly converted to a goal as Steph Oliver put a great ball across to Sacha Parker who effortlessly put the ball past the keeper. Crostyx had the last short corner of the game but the Stevenage defence very quickly put pressure on the striker who could not keep her cool leaving stevenage ladies walking away with a very well deserved three points.
 

Stevenage M1 – 11 (Dave Van Eijl 2, Gary Brown 3, Ben Oliver 3, Richard Hamilton, Jon Oliver, John Mould)  Crostyx M2 – 0
Stevenage restarted their League campaign in 2012 with a 11-0 thrashing of Crostyx 2’s.
Stevenage were always in control and were given the perfect opportunity to make it 1-0 when they were awarded a penalty stroke in the first minute of the game. The Keeper unaware of the onslaught about to bestow him made a good save from Mould to keep it 0-0.  Stevenage then scored three quick goals in the space of ten minutes, firstly Roddy Van Eijl with a strike from the top of the area before Gary Brown and Ben Oliver also hit the target. Crostyx never really threatened in the first half and three more goals before the break were added by Gary Brown who scored two to complete his hat-trick and a second for Ben Oliver made it 6-0.
In the second half Stevenage just continued to create chances and could have had ten within the first few minutes of the half, however the away keeper made some good stops.
It was soon seven when Van Eijl added his second with an impressive reverse strike which flew past the keeper. Then another penalty was awarded when Blackburn’s effort was illegally stopped on the line.  This time Paul Graves stepped up and saw his effort saved by the keeper, keeping the score to seven.  Soon it was eight when Richard Hamilton fired home after a great ball from Swinyard. Crostyx did win a few short corners and were unlucky not to get a consolation but for a great save from home keeper Dave Church.
Jon Oliver (right) and John Mould then added another quick two goals to hit double figures before late on Ben Oliver completed his hat-trick with an impressive and unstoppable strike which roofed the net to seal this fantastic win for Mould’s men and move them 5 points off top spot.

Other Results
M2 Lost: Stevenage - 1 (Geoff Trew) Luton Town - 3
M3 Lost: Hertford - 6 Stevenage - 5 (Tufty Barlow 2, Will Hammond 2, Gary Fung)
  Mens 3's Grab defeat from the jaws of Victory.......Stevenage Mens 3s travelled to Hertford this week looking to cement their position at the top of the league.  Clearly a bit rusty from an extended Mid season break, the away team took some time to settle, eventually taking the lead through a good move down the right which Rodger Barlow comfortably fired home from close range. Will Hammond finished well to put Stevenage 2 up and the league leaders were looking good. This wasn't to last however, as two quick goals from Hertford either side of half time brought the teams level.
Stevenage managed to re-gather themselves and  showed some quality, Gary Fung going close with a few efforts before 3 quick goals from Barlow, Hammond, Fung restoring the away teams lead. The result looked inevitable with less than 10 minutes to go, however, Hertford came back with a quick goal, this gave them renewed confidence.
Credit should go to the home side on how they came back, they played with more urgency and desire then the visitors and over ran us to end up winning the game 6-5.
Some major improvements needed from a Stevenage side looking to push for the title this season. We still remain in top spot but following a West Herts win, the gap between the top 3 teams is down to 3 points.
M5 Won: Stevenage - 2 (Andy Davies PF, David Spicer) Winchmore Hill - 1 With one of the few games fortunate enough to go ahead this weekend due to the freezing conditions, could the 5s turn up the heat and keep the pressure on the top of the table? With a number of attacking players and the captain away it was always going to be tough against an experienced Winchmore side. Stevenage started brightly with the more attacking play, giving the opposition some pressured defensive moments. Eventually the deadlock was broken with a reverse stick pass in from Richard McGavigan to a well positioned David Spicer who coolly slotted home his shot to give Stevenage the lead. This seemed to spur Winchmore in to action with a few hair-raising moments at the other end, with some impressive shots being delivered. The Stevenage defence held strong and keeper Daniel Dove pulling off some spectacular reaction stops. A shuffle round of player positions meant both the Davies brother pushed forward on the wings delivering some teasing passes for the attack who were unfortunate not to finish.
The second half saw Winchmore push higher up the pitch and began to expose some of the gaps, after a few well crafted moves a short corner was awarded to Winchmore. It took an impressive strike to beat Dove in goal but it was deserved following the pressure that had been put on. Stevenage responded strongly, their attacking play making an end to end game with both defences doing their jobs well; centre backs Martin and Graham commanding the space. A clever build up by M. Elliot, D. Davies and R. McGavigan moved the ball around the oppositions D creating a shot that could only be stopped on the line by a Winchmore foot. PK awarded, Andy Davies stepped up to the plate and calmly slotted home a low shot to the bottom left corner (so I am told, I had to turn away!) to give Stevenage the lead again. All the 5s could do was then sit back and defend as Winchmore drove forward for the remainder of the match and were very unlucky on a few occasions not to equalise.
A good performance by the 5s who welcome back their attacking force next week against the league leaders
M6 Won (WON): Cheshunt - 0 Stevenage - 1 (Ganesh Sivasothy) YES YES YES  it has finally happened the 6's have WON their first game of the season. An excellent performance by all involved. The team was aided this week by Khalid and Ian Brown who gave our youngsters good advise and instruction throughout the game and in response they played some great hockey with plenty of opportunities in the Cheshunt  D. Our defence were very strong and worked extremely hard and with some excellent saves by our keeper kept Cheshunt from Scoring .
L5 Lost: Letchworth - 6  Stevenage - 0 despite a good performance from skipper Roz Davies

SATURDAY 21 JANUARY 2012

Stevenage L1 – 2 (Sacha Parker, Ellie Biggs) Hertford L1 - 3
Well it really was a game of two halves this weekend for Stevenage ladies. The first half saw them play how Hertford wanted them to, meaning they were 2-0 down at half time. After another goal from Hertford at the beginning of the second half, Stevenage pulled it together and played as a unit, passing the ball well and with great movement throughout. fantastic play in the middle from man of match Sophie Hoskins and Carly Seaton meant Stevenage got back two goals, scored by Sacha Parker and Ellie Biggs. But unfortunately there weren't enough minutes on the clock to get it to a draw.
Stevenage M1 – 0  Wapping – 0
Stevenage travelled to Wapping on Saturday hoping to overtake their opponents in the league table with a win. This fixture was always going to be a tough challenge for the visitors who had four key players missing and only travelled with their bare eleven.  Wapping as expected had plenty of early possession but a very disciplined performance from Stevenage was making it difficult for the home side to penetrate. Some very strange decisions resulted in brothers Ben and Jon Oliver being sin binned much to the dismay of the visiting side and even the Wapping players looked bemused by the decision.
Wapping were starting to get frustrated by Mould’s teams defensive stance on the game and were getting annoyed with each other which almost allowed Blackburn the opportunity to score after a good through ball from John Mould, however his effort was saved. Jon Oliver almost scored after a good move down the right involving Strickland and Swinyard.  Wapping had four first half shots compared to Stevenage’s three but this was again credit to the away sides professionalism and the calls from Dingley in the away goal and sweeper Graves.
In the second half Wapping pushed forward time and time again but were unable to break Stevenage down. Their frustration was evident and if the decisions had been consistent then Wapping may have also had players sin binned like the visitors had in the first half as Matt Oliver was hit late off the ball.
Stevenage almost hit a late winner when Oliver hit the ball across the goal only for debutant Bailey Dingley to narrowly miss his cross, any touch would have resulted in a certain goal.
In the last minute Wapping had a final short corner which was defended brilliantly by the Stevenage defence which earned them an impressive point against a solid Wapping team.

OTHER RESULTS
M2 Won: Winchmore Hill & Enfield - 2 Stevenage - 5 (Andy Blaxill, Chris Watson 2, Andy Gardner)
M3 Won: Stevenage - 7  Winchmore Hill & Enfield - 2s (Niall Anderson 3, Gary Fung 3, Harry Wheeler)
M3 were looking for a return to winning ways after last weeks disappointing defeat and were up against a Winchmore hill and Enfield side that took three points off the league leaders at the beginning of the season. The home side started well creating some good chances and deservedly went one up when Niall Anderson (right) fired home from a tight angle. Continuing to press, Stevenage were soon two up after some good play in the D by Will Hammond allowed Anderson to grab his second. It looked as though Stevenage were back to their best when Gary Fung got himself on the scoresheet and put the home side three up at half time. Having not been troubled much in the first half the Stevenage defence were in for a tough time when Nick Crocker was shown a yellow card for trapping the ball above his head. Signs of last weekend started to show as two quick goals for the away side reduced the deficit to one. Only when a third goal was disallowed for the visitors and a fine save from Damien Nowopolski did Stevenage really get back on track, Anderson latching on to a through ball from Rodger Barlow to slot it passed the advancing keeper to restore a two goal cushion. With Crocker back on the midfield and strikers continued to trouble the visitors with some excellent play and Fung managed to bag himself a hat-trick with another two well taken goals to cap off a good afternoon. A fine individual effort from Harry Wheeler finally saw the home team cruise to a 7-2 victory against tricky opposition and remain top of the league.
M4 Drew: Stevenage - 1 (Khalid Mehmood) MBDA - 1, the visitors equalising with the last touch of the game after clinical finishing gave M4 a lead their below par performance did not fully merit.
M5 Won: Shandy - 2  Stevenage - 3. A great away victory over the previous leaders to take them to the top of the table. But Wells is strangely quiet: could it be he did not score? I think we should be told.
M6 Lost: Stevenage - 1 (Richard McGavigan)  Berkhamsted - 7. Good performances from youngsters and newcomers alike despite the scoreline.

L2 Lost: Stevenage - 0  Bishops Stortford - 1
L3 No game
L4 Lost: Blueharts - 3  Stevenage - 1 (Viv Hamilton)
L5 Lost: Stevenage - 0  Berkhamsted - 14 

SATURDAY 28 JANUARY 2012

Stevenage M1 – 3 (Ben Oliver, Gary Brown, Richard Hamilton) West Herts M2 – 1
Stevenage were hoping to continue their promotion bid on Saturday with a win against West Herts 2’s.
Stevenage started as only they know how with fast attacking moves against a well organised visiting side. The game was as expected quite open with both sides looking threatening from the outset. First chance fell to the home side when Mould broke down the right wing and crossed for Van Eijl to reverse strike just wide. Stevenage keeper Tim Dingley was in fine form and kept out two early efforts from the visitors. The deadlock was broken when Ben Oliver picked up the ball after a great interception from the classy Jon Oliver, Ben went round a defender then shot from the edge of the area past a stunned keeper to give his side a 1-0 lead.  This did not deter West Herts from their open attacking play and they almost equalised but for some excellent defending from Tim Wright and Paul Graves. John Mould then hit just wide after good work from Chris Strickland.  Jon Oliver and Gary Brown were starting to take control of the midfield battle with a little help from Richard Hamilton who slotted in to sure things up.  West Herts continued to create chances of their own but the defence and keeper of Stevenage were in good form.
In the second half the visitors stepped up a level and had a spell of controlling the game with pressure being exerted on the home side, which resulted in a penalty corner. The West Herts striker powerfully flicked home to make it 1-1.  The game then became a little scrappy with West Herts lucky not to have their number 28 sin binned for his constant fouling. Ben Oliver then hit a post before brother Matt hit just wide.
Roddy Van Eijl was the next to test the away keeper before at the other end Dingley made a tremendous double save to deny Herts the lead.
There was definitely more goals to come and when Hamilton won a penalty corner Gary Brown made no mistake in hitting the backboard with a thunderbolt to make it 2-1 to the home side.
Both sides had created good opportunities and maybe should have scored more goals but late on as West Herts pushed for the equaliser Stevenage countered and Richard Hamilton pounced on a great ball from Chris Strickland to make it 3-1 with a tidy finish. The drama was not over as Paul Graves also cleared a late short corner off the Stevenage goal line to keep the score at 3-1and give the home side another crucial three points and chasing a promotion place.

OTHER RESULTS
M2 Lost and M3 Won: M2 – 0 M3 – 3 (Nick Crocker, Will Hammond, Niall Anderson). It was a local affair as the Stevenage men's 2nd and 3rd teams faced up against each other in the league in what was always going to be a hard fought contest. At the start of the day the 3's were sitting top of the league, however, they were only 2 points clear of the opposition, so a win for either team would be a significant result in the chase for the title. The match began in a nervy fashion with both teams creating few chances. Stevenage 3s earned a few short corners but these were not converted as the 2nd teams defence stood strong. It took a quick bit of brilliance from Tufty Barlow down the right to find Will Hammond unmarked in the D, showing good composure Hammond managed to slot the ball past the advancing Dave Church to put the league leaders ahead. The 2s quickly responded with some flowing attacking play through Oli holt and Mitch Snares, however the 3rd teams defence was in good shape with Tony Farnham, Adam Presland and Tom Wooley clearing any danger. A well taken short corner routine from Nick Crocker was well saved by Church, however Niall Anderson was quickest to the breakdown to put the 3s two nil up at half time. The second half started with very few chances being created and Gary Fung and Bailey Dingley working hard for the 3s defending from the front. The 2s weren't going to give up however, and continued to create chances. Damien Nowopolski in goals for the 3rd team pulled off countless top class saves from successive short corners to keep the 2s at bay. Another bit of brilliance from Fung earned the 3s a short corner halfway through the second period, this time Crocker managed to fire the ball into the bottom corner giving the defenders on the line no chance and putting the 3s further ahead. Some slack defending allowed the 2s more chances towards the end of the game, however, Nowopolski continued to pull off some excellent saves and keep a well deserved clean sheet. The final result ended with all 3 points going to the 3s, moving them 5 points clear with 7 matches remaining.
M4 Won: WGC - 0  Stevenage - 4 (Ian Brown, Lawrie Brown, Harp Mann, Ryall Schwartz)
M5 Won: Stevenage - 2 (Shane Parmar, David Spicer) Hertford - 0.
With Division 8SW fixed firmly in their sights, Stevenage 5s decisively continued their campaign for promotion with this thrilling 2-0 win over old rivals Hertford. Despite Stevenage controlling the first half of the game with many attempts on a gymnastic goalkeeper, neither side was able to score before the break. However, the home side re-emerged invigorated and focussed, launching multiple attacks leading up to a short-corner from captain Dave Wells that was neatly slotted into the goal by defender Shane Parmar. Just moments later, a run from Richard McGavian was coolly finished past the Keeper by David Spicer. A solid performance from Stevenage, who would have scored at least four more if it wasn't for the incredible agility of the visiting goalkeeper, and a hesitant Hertford who really only looked dangerous on the rare occasions that Stevenage gave away possession.  
M6 Lost: Luton - 9  Stevenage - 0. Well this was definitely a game of two halves . We were always going to be under pressure with a team of mostly in experienced players including myself. In the first half we kept on their players with man to man marking preventing them from scoring also with some excellent saves from our keeper kept the score down to 0-0 at half time. We didn't manage to get into their D much but there was some excellent play when we were attacking. After half time we seemed to come out very slowly and the man to man marking had gone, we were slow responding when they had free hits and Shefford and Sandy** [not to mention Luton, Dave] were extremely quick, We also constantly gave the ball away with our free hits, which all led to a 9-0 defeat at full time. **noticed you pointed out the fact I put in Shefford and Sandy instead of Luton sorry but I think I may have been writing a standard match report to include a report in preparation for this weeks game as it may be easier just to change the oppositions name each week and keep the same report, DW.
L1 Drew: Blueharts – 1  Stevenage - 1 (Steph Oliver)
L2 Won: Hertford - 1  Stevenage - 3 (Bex Mcgrellis, skipper Jo Thorpe 2)
L3 Lost: Stevenage - 1 (Theresa Luciani)   Broxbourne - 3
L4 Lost: Stevenage - 0  St Albans - 3
L5 Lost: Letchworth - 4  Stevenage - 0


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