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.
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