SATURDAY 3 MARCH

Stevenage M1 – 4  (Gary Brown, Danny Blackburn, John Mould, John Oliver) Thurrock M1 – 2 

Stevenage picked up a crucial three points in their bid for promotion with an impressive 4-2 victory against Thurrock.  Stevenage scored three goals in the first 15 minutes the first from Gary Brown after a great ball from Jon Oliver.  It was soon 2-0 when Larry Hamilton found Danny Blackburn who calmly fired home after beating two defenders.  Skipper John Mould then ghosted through before powering past a hapless keeper.  Thurrock pulled one back after good build up play and made it 3-2 with only a few minutes remaining in the first half. Right on the stroke on half time Jon Oliver made it 4-2 with a fine finish after good work from Chris Perry.
In a second half which didn’t live up to the first Chris Strickland cleared off the home  goal line and Tim Dingley made an amazing save to keep the scoreline 4-2.  Late on Blackburn hit a first time shot just wide after good chances had fallen to Mould and Hamilton.

Waltham Forest L2 - 1   Stevenage L1 – 4 (Carly Seaton 2, Caz Ayles and Ellie Biggs)

L2 WON:  Shefford and Sandy - 2  Stevenage - 3
L3 DREW:  Enigma - 1  Stevenage - 1
(Daisy Mould scoring a impressive drag flick)
L4 lost: Stevenage - 0  Rickmansworth - 2
L5 lost: Stevenage - 3  Leighton Buzzard - 7
(Non League)

M2 WON: Winchmore Hill & Enfield - 2  Stevenage - 6 (Chris Watson 3, Callum Matthews[sic], Dan Farnan, Andy Blaxill)  M2 displayed perhaps the performance of the season in the first half against Winchmore hill.   Starting from the first minute they took position, went up the left wing only to see nothing was on and bringing the ball back in defence for redistribution clearly demonstrating a willingness to keep position.  This remained the key to the first half where Stevenage’s dominance was overwhelming.  Only a few minutes in the breakthrough happened, a run down the right released Chris Watson to score with his new stick, something he would have the pleasure of doing a few more times that day. The second goal came nearly straight after the first with an excellent run down the wing with pass after pass between Mitch Snares and James Hamilton allowed Callum Matthews to run up the right from the back and calmly slot the ball under a diving keeper.  The third of the game was to fall to Dan Farnan (right) who celebrated his 18th with a finely taken goal, after a suberb collection of passes left Oliver Holt in a position of shoot at the keeper or pass to Dan for an easy goal, Holt demonstrated the unselfish pass was the correct pass.The fourth came a few minutes before half time with Chris taking his second, again after some well worked play between Geoff Trew and the dominating James Hamilton in the middle of the park.  Well that was the end of a brilliant Stevenage half.Whatever was said at half time to Winchmore Hills players worked and then some.  The second half started as an absolute reverse of the first.  Stevenage’s back patting at half time left them some what startled as Winchmore attacked and took position.  They were quickly rewarded with a wonderfully stuck goal from one of their middle field playes who turned on a sixpence at the top of the D and struck hard and low to score their 1st.  This was a worrying time for Stevenage who couldn’t get into the second half.  Soon afterwards a 2nd was drilled in from Winchmore Hill leaving a perplexed Stevenage Captain on the side line (injured still!).   More pressure was put on by Winchmore however a break from Stevenage lead to a short corner and a goal was needed to settle the squad down.  Up stepped figure of Andrew Blaxill who hit a beauty past the keeper for a 5-2 score line. That settled their woes and the rest of the game was now a sure thing, an incredible revival from Winchmore was unsettled and the rest of the game played out more 50/50 compared to the 80/20 of before.The final goal came to Chris Watson just before the final whistle where he earned hatrick, and he deserved it.
M3 WON: Stevenage - 4 (Harry Wheeler 2, Gary Fung 2)
The league leaders had a tough fixture this week at home against a mid table Letchworth side. The away team started much quicker and were soon ahead after a well taken short corner found it's way between Tim Dingleys legs in goal. The first half followed much the same pattern with the home team creating very few chances but defending well enough to keep the visitors at bay. With only 5 minutes till the break, Nick Crocker found a way through the Letchworth defence with a ball to the back post that Harry Wheeler converted to level the score. With the next attack of the game, Tufty Barlow played in Niall Anderson down the right, drawing out the defenders he then set up Wheeler for his second and an unlikely half time lead. After a quick regroup at half time Stevenage started the second half with much greater intensity, pressing ahead with their usual attacking flair. It wasn't long before the home team scored again with the ball falling in the D to Gary Fung who managed to wrong foot the keeper with a 'slow ball' placed into the bottom corner. The lead wasn't to last however as Letchworth bounced straight back with 2 goals in quick succession after some ill discipline from the home side lead to a series of short corners and free hits around the D. With time running out, Stevenage were not going to settle for a point and the ever reliable Crocker played Anderson down the left wing into space which allowed him to pull the ball back to the top of the D for Fung to again wrong foot the keeper with another of his 'slow balls' this time bobbling over the line and sealing a hard fought victory. Stevenage remain 5 points clear with 4 games remaining.
M4 WON: Letchworth - 1  Stevenage - 5 (Ian and Lawrie Brown, Khalid mehmood, Harp Mann and Jack Nevill)
M5 WON: Stevenage - 1 (Andy Davies) Luton - 0
  This week the 5s faced what was potentially the most critically challenging game of the season so far. Precariously balancing at the top of the league with just a few games left, Stevenage were facing a very strong Luton who were second in the league still with a game in hand. Predictable the game was extremely tightly fought, with a few missed opportunities in the first half from Luton, but some flashes of brilliance from a determined Stevenage , although unable to score, creating some spells of fluidly linked play. The home side threw everything into the second half, Andy Davies eventually scoring after a short-corner – from then on it was a case of tightening up in defence, and despite a few hairy moments from Luton , holding on for the final whistle. A very solid performance from the 5s, who face another tricky game next weekend away against Winchmore Hill & Enfield.
M5 lost: Hertford - 9  Stevenage - 1

SATURDAY 10 MARCH

Hertford L5 - 1  Stevenage L5 - 2 (Gemma Penney, Emily Heatley)
The Ladies 5s leapfrogged their opponents at the foot of the table and won their first league game since 2009/10 despite travelling to Hertford with 10 players and coming up against a side able to field a substitute. Gemma Penney gave the visitors a deserved lead, equalised before halftime, and Emily Heatley scored the winner with a lovely little flick over the keeper's shoulder. Chris made some crucial saves to secure the famous fives' victory. Having scored in their last three games things are looking up for Ros Davies' team.

Witham M1 – 5 Stevenage M1 – 2 (Stevie Hamid, Gary Brown)
Stevenage’s chances of promotion this season were left in tatters after Saturdays disappointing defeat to Witham.
With several players missing and no substitutes to choose from the away side started poorly and Witham, right from the start, put immense pressure on the Stevenage defence and almost took the lead in the first few minutes but for a fine Dingley save. Jon Oliver was doing his best to create some attacks for Bailey Dingley and Danny Blackburn to latch on to but the Witham defence just outnumbered the Stevenage forward line. Paul Grave s and Chris Strickland made some fine challenges in the defence before a crucial ten minute spell which saw Witham score three goals.  The witham side looked more menacing than their opponents and deserved to be ahead but it was the blistering speed they pounced to score three goals which totally shell shocked Stevenage who went in to the break 3-0 down. The second half saw a much improved performance from the visitors who had nothing to lose and were really playing for pride. Stevenage looked more solid and were starting to have a good spell when a harsh decision went against them and Witham added a fourth from the resulting short corner. A minute later Matt Oliver hit a ball across for Steve Hamid to deflect home making it 4-1. Jon Oliver then crossed to Blackburn whose effort smashed back off the post with Chris Perry unable to convert the rebound.  Paul Graves then set up Gary Brown from a penalty corner and he made it 4-2 with an instinctive finish. Chris Strickland cleared off the away goal line before another goal went in for Witham to make it 5-2, however the ball looked to be hit outside the area which was harsh on the Stevenage team who’s game had improved dramatically from the first half. Graham Swinyard and Jon Oliver battled hard in the midfield all day trying to spread the ball to the wings and get Stevenage moving but the final whistle went at 5-2 leaving their promotion dream shattered for another season.  Stevenage will hope to bounce back next Saturday at home to East London.

Stevenage L1 - 2 (Natalie Davis 2)  Harpenden - 3 
Stevenage ladies faced top of the league Harpenden this week and were ready for a very hard game. Stevenage went out with fire and determination, completely taking charge with new member Natalie Davis settling in well scoring two goals which were more than deserved. The second half was a big fight for Stevenage but unfortunately conceded two bringing the game to a draw. Man of the match Jo Biggs, and Stevenage defence (Jenny Harding, Jess day and Jo Howlett) played great hockey along with good saves by keeper Lisa Pickard managed to keep the scoreline as it was. Even though the entire Stevenage team fought till the end and defended as a unit harpenden managed to slip a goal past in the last few minutes. A draw would have been fair. Heads up to Stevenage who played the best hockey of the season

OTHER RESULTS

L2 WON: Stevenage - 3 (Nicky Reynolds, Bex McGrellis 2) Bedford - 0
L3 No Game
L4 WON: Stevenage - 5 (Genna Telfer 3, Sam Allum 2)  Royston - 2

M2 WON: Letchworth - 3 Stevenage - 4 (Ollie Holt, Harry Wheeler and Chris Watson 2)
M3 WON: Stevenage - 3 (Adam Presland, Nick Crocker, Ian Wilcock) Blueharts - 1
M3 are 5 points ahead of M2 at the top of the table and with 3 games to go are close to securing promotion: they visit the only non-Stevenage team that could win the title next week
M4 lost: Stevenage - 3 (Khalid Mehmood 2, Laurie Brown) WGC - 8
M5 WON:
a walk over at Winchmore Hill & Enfield means M5 stay top of the division 2 points ahead of Shandy
M6 lost: Stevenage - 0 Cheshunt - 2
A brave performance from Dave Woolley's blend of extreme youth and extreme old age with perhaps not enough in the middle to prevent a scrappy goal in each half deciding the match.

SATURDAY 17 MARCH 2012

Stevenage M1 – 11 (Gary Brown 4, Digger Graves, Matt Oliver, John Mould, Danny Blackburn, Jon Oliver, Larry Hamilton)  East London – 2
Stevenage moved to fourth in the table with an 11-2 victory against relegated East London on Saturday.  In a very one sided affair  the home side took advantage in the first half when East London started the game with only 7 players and no keeper.  By the break it was 7-0 and game over.
In the second half the visitors whole side had arrived to make it eleven a side, by full time it was 11-2 and Stevenage will look back thinking they maybe should have pushed to the last game for promotion instead of consolidating another year in Division 2.

Welwyn Garden City L1 - 1  Stevenage L1 – 3 (Ellie Biggs 2, Jude Weston)
Stevenage ladies got a great result this weekend beating welwyn 3-1. It did not come easy though! After going 1-0 down Stevenage didn't play their normal great hockey and for some reason couldn't seem to get going. It wasn't until the second half when they played short passes and moved the ball around that the goals started to come. Ellie Biggs started off the scoring by getting a rebound off the keeper, her second was something else. From the tightest angle possible Ellie managed to reverse the ball past the keeper at her near post. The team weren't sure how that went in but were glad it did. The third came from great play down the right with passing between Jenny Harding, Carly Seaton and Judith Weston, Jude Weston picked up the ball, drove into the D and connected with the ball wonderfully to lead Stevenage to a comfortable win.

Stevenage M5 - 2 (Josh Poulton, Dave Wells)  Shefford & Sandy M3 - 1  M5 EAST LEAGUE DIVISION SW9 CHAMPIONS    This week, still sitting pretty at the top of Division 9SW, Stevenage 5s anticipated the crunch match of the season, as they faced Number Two in the league Shefford & Sandy, in the penultimate match from which one side was likely to come out as league champions.
Proving an irresistable fixture, home side Stevenage produced a strong squad of 14 players, which although causing a few substitution headaches for the captain, kept the team vibrant with a constant supply of fresh legs every seven minutes.
Predictably, the game was hard-fought from the start, Stevenage just about taking the edge on possession, and closing down any real threats to the back line. However, shortly after a Dave Wells short-corner was stopped on the line, play moved swiftly to the other end if the pitch, surprising the home defence to score the first goal for Shefford & Sandy to end the first half 0-1.
Stevenage came out fighting in the rainy second half after a brief reminder of the high stakes, and the visitors were soon on the back foot, leaving it to their keeper to try to protect their lead with some impressive saves. Then the game took a far more serious tone, as after a fumbling error from a visiting defender, Josh Poulton seized the opportunity to steal the ball and coolly slotted it in round the keeper to level the scores. Pressure now showed in both sides with tempers fraying, and a desperation to get ahead leading to some terse moments in all areas of the pitch. After Stevenage attacked a series of both short and long corners, triumph finally showed its face, albeit controversially - in the confusion of a contested free hit from Stuart Jones, Captain Dave Wells (left) managed to get a touch on the ball to guide it into the back of the net. After some discussion with the visitors, both umpires allowed the goal to stand, and Stevenage dug in to defend for the remaining ten minutes of the game, in a spell marred by challenged decisions, unusually physical play, and the sending off of a Stevenage midfielder.
Probably the greatest performance from the 5s this season, who have worked so hard to pick themselves from near the bottom of the league last year. Whilst credit must go to Coach Jo Howlett for ensuring that the training regime responded to the previous saturdays' performances, the whole team should be congratulated for it's commitment and gutsy performances against some difficult teams this season, only losing three games. With just one league game left, Stevenage 5s have been confirmed league Champions and look forward to raising the bar again in Division 8SW next season.

Stevenage M2 - 3 (Ollie Holt, Chris Watson 2)  Bedford M4 - 2
They started the game with a clear understanding that three points today and promotion was theirs. It did seem that some nerves were showing and it did take a good ten minutes to settle in. The passing was strong and accurate but there wasn’t a breakthrough in the first ten minutes and the possession looked to be more in favour of Bedford, however Stevenage defended from the front and held Bedford well.  It took some excellent clearing up at the back by Terry Kingstone to release James Hamilton down the centre before any serious action was seen. James clearly wasn’t in the mood for route 1 hockey as he distributed the ball cleanly into the path of Geoff Trew who was flying up the right wing. Trew ran past the halfway line and their captain Tom Wharton who has been sidelined most of the season with injury before sliding a pin point pass into the stick of Chris Watson who was impeded and secured a short corner. Up stepped Andrew Blaxill. Mr Blaxill took position at the top of the D, received the ball from a Mitch Snares push-out and seemed to have found the bottom right corner, however somehow the keeper got a foot to it and the rebound came out neatly for Oliver Holt. Oliver Holt doesn’t miss from there. 1-0. Stevenage then settled well in to a very finely tuned rhythm keeping Bedford at bay by soaking up their pressure and replying with style with some excellently worked passing. Chris Watson did a sterling job at the front and was well rewarded with two goals before half time, one of which was a roofed shot from the top of the D that whistled pas the keepers head to the relieve of Stevenage and perhaps the Bedford keeper. Half time came and the score was 3-2. Somehow in the second half Stevenage failed to score even though they deserved more, multiple attacks and superb build up work was futile. Then with about ten minutes left Bedford broke and slotted a goal neatly in after the forward a fast counter attack. Their second came with a few minutes left on the clock so Oliver Holt did the sensible thing of picking the ball up and running into the corner to soak up some time. It worked and a relieved Stevenage took the three points.Stevenage won, took three points and confirmed themselves as promoted with a guaranteed 2nd position in the league.

West Herts M4 - 0  Stevenage M3 - 2 (Niall Anderson)
Meanwhile the league leaders travelled to face West Herts this week. Currently sitting third in the table the opposition were going to be no walkover and would potentially provide the toughest game of the season so far. The game got off to a very tense start with neither keeper having a save to make and both defences standing strong. It took some great play down the right from Roger Barlow and Harry Wheeler to break the deadlock, their one-two play set up Niall Anderson at the front post allowing him to calmly slot past the advancing keeper. The league leaders were then dealt a huge blow as Barlow suffered a back injury (most likely golf related) and was forced off. This however cleared the way for Nick Russell (Capt. Marvel) to make his long awaited return to the side from injury. Russell immediately settled into the game trapping the ball at waist height and starting the next wave of attacking play. The nearest Stevenage came to doubling their lead was a chance that fell to Gary Fung, he narrowly missed the goals with the ball soaring over the bar into the easyjet flight path above. The first half ended with Stevenage holding on to their slim lead and looking to re-gather for the second half, now with no fit subs to call upon.
West Herts started after the interval with some really positive play and pinned Stevenage back deep into their half. More solid defending from the back line of Damien Nowpoloski, Adam Guillick, Tony Farnam, Adam Presland and Russell kept the visitors in the lead. Stevenage began to create some more chances of their own but these were limited to some fast breaks and good link up between the midfield, Fung and Bailey Dingley. Stevenage got their second goal of the game midway through the second half when Farnam smashed the ball into the D, Fung managed to change the direction of the ball, however his deflection seemed to be going wide of the goal and Anderson re-deflected the ball into the opposite corner, wrong footing the keeper and extending the visitors lead. The home side really pushed on looking to salvage something from the game but Nowpoloski wasnt going to be beaten and pulled off countless top class saves. Anderson could of had a hat-trick towards the end of the game as the visitors had just the keeper to beat, however Fung's attempted square pass was easily intercepted by the keeper.
This win confirms M3 promotion with two games still remaining. A win next week against Welwyn will seal a well deserved championship title.

OTHER RESULTS
M4 lost: Luton - 8  Stevenage - 3 (Mike Tyler, Ryall Schwartz, Veteran Ian Brown)
M6 lost: Berkhamsted - 4 Stevenage - 0
Well another excellent effort by all again, we marked berko out off most off the first half and conceded only one excellent goal from them. The second half berko scored another 3 goals one very scrappy and 2 others from deflection from our own sticks we made some good runs into the berko end  but did not manage to score ourselves
L3 lost: Stevenage - 0  Saffron Walden - 1
L4 WON: West Herts - 2 Stevenage - 3 (Vicky Marquiss, Evergreen Viv Hamilton, Equally Youthful Maggie O’Connor)
L5 lost: Stevenage - 0  Royston - 3

SATURDAY 24 MARCH 2012

Cheshunt 4th XI 0 - M5 1 (D.Wells)
 
Possibly the greatest performance of the year for the 5s, despite the unspectacular goal difference. Ignoring the blazing sunshine, the newly crowned league champions ran their little socks off, but more importantly started PASSING the ball around, using quick triangular movements to aggravate the opposition with flowing attacks and strong support from the back. despite several near misses at the Cheshunt goal, the first half ended goal-less. Highlights of the second half included a goal from Dave Wells and a further goal for David Spicer being disallowed.
Surely this is how the 5s should have played all season, but nevertheless an exciting hope for next season's venture into league 8SW.

 


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