Saturday 1st December 2012

L2s 6 - Hertford 2s 1

Ladies often opt for material things to cheer themselves up, usual suspects being shoes, handbags or chocolate. However, to get over their soggy loss at Cheshunt, Stevenage 2s chose to lift their spirits with a veritable 6 goal gourmet guzzle against their unfortunate hosts Hertford.

Debbi Church opened the feast with a cheeky amuse bouche, a pinch of nutmeg giving the goal keeper a hint of the spice to come. Aperitif barely digested, Church followed up with a pass to Nicki Reynolds to serve up her signature starter, packing a punch with a tasty little number. Initially taken aback by their guest’s voracious appetite, Hertford tucked in, making hearty attempts to catch up but to no avail as Head Chef Lisa Pickard deftly kept her kitchen free of undesirable visitors. Service was slick and professional, Jess Day in particular keeping the drinks supply flowing and her strikers thirsts quenched. Front of house Gemma Penny barely stood still throughout service, earning her Player of the Match. Penny’s hard work paid off, pulling Hertford’s attention away as Reynolds came back on duty, receiving the fish course from Sam’on’ Allum and slamming it in the back of Hertford’s oven.

Ever the congenial hosts, Hertford provided a palate cleanser to kick off the second half and whet Stevenage’s appetite for three more courses. Main course, quite rightly, fell to Captain Becs McGrellis – a superb run from the half way line by Karen Kotze set up Becs who, like her namesake, bent it like Beckham round the sprawling keeper. Julie Rhodes was causing mayhem down the right, forcing Hertford into numerous faux pas and securing short corner opportunities. After a few samplers, Jo Thorp received a perfect injection from McGrellis, pulled the ball left out of reach of the first runner and delivered desert with a cherry on top. Tempted out of the kitchen by the smell of fresh kill, defenders Jan Gibson and Liz Gates joined the top table to sample life at higher altitude – nosebleeds were successfully avoided as was the backboard, though the sideboard received a bit of a hammering. There is always one guest who becomes tired and emotional, but Debbi Church managed to take the tally to six with a slow dribble to within a waffer thin mint’s breadth of the far post.

One dish has been reserved for next week’s return match against Leighton Buzzard – it’s best served cold...

M5s 2 - Luton Town 4s 4

After last week’s break, Stevenage were looking surprisingly feisty on Saturday, playing at Luton’s unusually springy new pitch that visitors rarely win on. After about ten minutes captain Dave Wells put Stevenage ahead from a short corner, although Luton got lucky breaking through the defence shortly before the break. Still smelling a win, Stevenage came out fighting and Pete Hindle took advantage of a tussle with the keeper to calmly push the ball home, insuring an almost certain success. However, the wheels began to fall off in the last 15 minutes, the young and organised home side’s energy levels less depleted by the strength-sapping pitch. After two goals in quick succession, Luton reinforced their win with just a couple of minutes left of the match. Once again, and exciting and spirited performance from Stevenage, not really reflected in the final score.

M1s 3 - Bedford 2s 6
(Oliver B., DeLaune, Blackburn)

Stevenage hosted Bedford on Saturday in a game they really needed to win with half the season gone and with only two wins under their belt. Stevenage started the brighter in a game of two halves and took the game to their opponents with quick attacks and total commitment. After ten minutes Stevenage had created several openings with chances falling to Brown and Swinyard who found the Bedford keeper in good form.

The midfield of Lorry Brown and brother Gary were working hard with the help of skipper Jon Oliver to disrupt and frustrate any Bedford advances. When Bedford did break through Paul Graves and James Hamilton were in fine tune to put in some good challenges. Dan Dove in the Stevenage goal then made a great save which he tipped over the bar to give Stevenage a timely warning that their guests were a dangerous adversary. Jon Oliver then supplied Ben Oliver with a perfect pass, as he drove in to the area he was upended resulting in a penalty corner for the home side. Graves and Jon Oliver switched the ball around to Blackburn whose effort was blocked by a defender only for vice-skipper Ben DeLaune to fire home and give Stevenage a 1-0 lead. Things got even better a few minutes later when Dan Farnan slipped past his marker and crossed to Ben Oliver who scored the goal of the game with a superb reverse flick which flew in the far corner of the goal to make it 2-0.

Stevenage were now on top however crucially skipper Jon Oliver was forced to exit the pitch with a rib injury and this seemed to affect the home side who all of a sudden were all over the place. Bedford punished Stevenage and scored two quick goals with impressive counter attacks. At 2-2 Bedford started to take control and were causing big problems for Oliver’s men. Matt Oliver brilliantly cleared a ball reverse stick off the goal line before Gary Brown hit the post at the other end after a great ball from brother Lorry. Jon Oliver patched up returned to the pitch and immediately had a influence as him and Ben Oliver combined to win another Stevenage penalty corner this time Graves and Gary Brown combined to supply Danny Blackburn with the perfect opportunity to give Stevenage a 3-2 lead which he gratefully took with a flick in to the goal which gave the keeper no chance.

The second half was a different story as Bedford stepped up the pace of the game and forced Stevenage deep in to their own half. The pressure was starting to tell on the home side and Bedford won several short corners before finally equalising. They then quickly got a fourth yet again from a harshly given short corner. Things got worse for Stevenage when Blackburn was sin-binned for going in a little angrily on a challenge, even though he came away with the ball the umpire believed the challenge to be dangerous and showed the yellow card. This did not help Stevenage’s cause and Matt Oliver then gave away a penalty stroke for what was interpreted as a deliberate foot in the area, which seemed harsh. Bedford converted the flick to make the score 5-3. Graham Swinyard combined well with James Hamilton down the left flank, a great cross from Swinyard found Farnan who hit just wide. Bedford then were reduced to ten men, this time Blackburn was the victim not the aggressor, he got kicked over as he turned the Bedford defender with ease. From the resulting hit Brown found Ben Oliver who this time saw an effort well saved by the Bedford keeper.

Graves and man of the match Swinyard were making some fine interceptions and challenges in the Stevenage defence with the help of Hamilton and DeLaune but could do little about Bedford’s sixth. As Stevenage were pushing to try and get something from the game their attack broke down and the visitors made the perfect counter to put the icing on the cake of their impressive victory and fire in a fabulous final goal. Late on Matt Oliver crossed for Ben DeLaune but unlike the first half his effort missed the target. Another disappointment for Stevenage after a great first half but Oliver’s army know they have to start picking up points before the sides just above them start getting away!

M3s lost 4-1 to Luton Vagrants with the consolation coming from Niall Anderson
L1s lost 2-1 to Blueharts with the goal coming from Jo Biggs

Saturday 8th December 2012

L2s 1 – Leighton Buzzard 2s 1

Stevenage had a point to prove on Saturday. Captain McGrellis said that the only acceptable reason for defeat this time would be that Leighton Buzzard were the better team.

Leighton got lucky, they managed to wrestle a draw from the jaws of defeat though in so doing they proved their previous 7-1 victory to be somewhat hollow. This time the playing field was level, with no gridlocked traffic to contend with, Stevenage had a full complement of players from the start.

The home side goal came early in the first half with a weighted pass from Debbi Church to Zoe Zeliku who dummied past a defender before slipping to pin ball wizard Gemma Penny to slot past the keeper. After that the reds were all over Leighton like an angry rash. Church so nearly cemented victory from a short, the keeper lucky to be left with clang of the post ringing in her ears rather than the smack of the backboard. Smelling the scent of victory, Stevenage kept pressing and whilst this did leave their goal exposed it was looking like it would only be a matter of time before another goal would be won. And it was, but at the wrong end.

There was a whole half left to play and if guts and determination counted for anything, Stevenage should have secured the win. They fought the law, Murphy might have won, but the point was proved.

Saturday 15th December 2012

L2 1 - St Albans 3s 2

Twas the last match before Christmas,
And the two’s were up for a fight,
Well, all except for the captain,
Who’d got drunk the previous night.

The reds lined up on the field with care,
Hoping that victory soon would be theirs.
Keeper Pickard in her ‘kerchief,
Helmet, kickers and pads,
Took her goal mouth position,
Behind the Dog of the Mads.

They were off at the whistle, to give it their best,
One last push before Christmas, earning a mid-winter’s rest.

The oppo were tricky, they’d won out before,
Having tasted victory, they were back for more.
Fierce battle ensued, Kotze played out of her skin,
But no amount of fancy stick work,
Could stop the ball going in.

Half time brought respite,
A fine winter’s morning, no need for an umbrella
The girls fired up by loyal supporters
Dave, Thorpee and ‘Ella’.

With a head full of pesky pheasants,
Captain yelled at her forwards by name,
Alf, Gemma and Debbi,
Get us back in the game!
A short corner injected to our ageing vet,
A defender’s deflection, ball in the back of the net.

The oppo came back but were blocked by Jan,
Who passed right to Julie, yes – another South African (sorry, that was appalling),
When the ball went astray, some sweet hits from Jess,
Kept the reds in the game, and out of the mess.

Sadly dear reader, disaster struck,
The visitor’s nicked one, such dashed bad luck.
But soon the Reds were back in the fray,
With Tennille and Zoe leading the way.
A short corner won bang on full time,
To level the game would have been sublime.
Church swiped at the ball with a final flourish,
The shot was on but her aim was rubbish.
Maybe a rest will do her some good,
Hopefully come January Jo and Riana will return to the hood.

Later that night they were back at the club,
Decked out in festive jumpers, except Mad Dog (Bah Humbug).
Out for a curry, secret santa and beer,
An excellent remedy for restoring good cheer.

Becs raised her glass to her team, such a festive sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

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