SATURDAY 6 FEBRUARY 2010

M1 AND L1 BOTH WINNERS THIS WEEK

Stevenage M1   -  3   Berkhamsted M1   -  1    The home side raced three goals ahead within 20 minutes but could not maintain that pace, settling in the end for a comfortable win. Mitch Snares claimed the first goal when his shot was deflected in the goal from a defender's stick, and Gary Brown scored the second with the intentional and subtle deflection of Matt Oliver's powerful cross. Then Danny Blackburn scored the goal of the game when he finished of a delightful hockey move by sweeping Nial Anderson's cross into the roof of the net.
The visitors pulled a goal back before halftime but neither side could break the second half deadlock.

Blueharts M3   -  3    Stevenage M2   -  1    On a cold and foggy evening in the wilds of Hertfordshire, otherwise known as Hitchin Boys School, Stevenage 2s set themselves a tough task. Without Larry Hamilton and the rock, Geoff Trew, Scholsey and Hamilton the elder found themselves both in centre midfield, with a young backline of Risley, Gask and Mathews.  Blueharts got off to a flier, scoring two before Stevenage switched on. A clumsy challenge from Robbo gave the umpire no choice but to give a stroke. Up steps the striker, up steps Jack, diving to his right to deny the opposition a third early on. Bolstered by this turn of events, Stevenage were spurred on to greater effort, resulting in an Ollie Holt stormer. 2-1, game on. Half time.
Second half saw Blueharts passing and moving very well. Only heroic saves by Jack kept the game close.  The inexperience showed through, however, and The 'Nidge went another goal behind. An insurmountable lead. Final score, 3-1 to the boys in blue. Disappointment for the reds.


Berkhamsted M2  -  0  Stevenage M3  -  1   
The visitors held on to top spot in their division despite starting with 10 men and giving a very below par performance. Khalid Mehmood scored the second half winner and also missed a chance to double the lead.

Stevenage M4  -  1   Welwyn Garden City M4  -  1    Skipper Simon Russell scored a second half equaliser for the home side after they forced some good saves from the visitor's goalkeeper.


Stevenage M6   -  1    Stevenage M5  -  1   
League meetings between sides in the same club are always keenly contested and this was no exception. The 5s opened brightly and it was no surprise when Stuart Jones scored after good work from Andy Davies mid way through the first half. But for the rest of the game the 6s were in the ascendancy, equalising late in the game when Graham Nicholls chipped in Tony Farnan's fine cross and forcing fine saves from Mike Hamid in the 5s goal. After conceding 17 goals in two games the M6 defence looked reasonably and surprisingly comfortable, if not always calm.


Chelmsford L3  -  2    Stevenage L1  -  3   
The visitors showed fine battling qualities to overcome a combative yet talented Chelmsford outfit and complete a league double over the Essex side. Stevenage took the lead when Jude Weston played in Carly Seaton in a well practised move but hesitant defending allowed Chelmsford back on level terms. The visitors regained the initiative with some excellent midfield play from Holly Mould and fine thrusting wing attacks form Jude Weston (pic), before Caz Ayles took her chance from a penalty corner following good advantage from the umpire, skilfully steering her shot into the goal on the volley following a deflection of Jude Weston's goal bound shot.
Just before half time the Chelmsford goalkeeper floored Player of the Match Caz Ayles and Carly Seaton converted the resultant penalty stroke with some aplomb sending the offending keeper in the wrong direction. The second half saw the visitors dig deep into their reserves of stamina in an end to end half, finally hanging on as Chelmsford pressed for an equaliser having pulled one back just after the break. Becky Fenwick worked exceptionally hard in defence and Lucy Harvey and Sasha Parker were always in the thick of the action in midfield.
This result sees Stevenage remain undefeated in this half of the season and in the top half of the table after a shaky start to the season.

Stevenage L2  -  3     Luton L2  -  2    Steph Fanthorpe and Alfie Gunther put the home two ahead only to be pulled back to level terms. The experience of Jo Thorp secured the winner in the second half to move her team closer in the table to 4th placed Luton.

Leighton Buzzard L3   -   8    Stevenage L3  -  0     Andrea Weston confimed her return from injury with a Payer of the Match performance in defence but even this was nowhere near good enough to prevent another defeat and continuation of a terrible run for the visitors.

Queenswood L2  -  1      Stevenage L4  -  1    A great result for the visitors thanks to a Nikki Davies equaliser, but they were disappointed not to have converted superior play into a winning position.

Bedford L5   -  4    Stevenage L5  -  0    The visitors were within one goal of Bedford until close to the end but conceded 3 goals in the final 10 minutes after the experienced Anne Graves was substituted.

SATURDAY 13 FEBRUARY 2010

M1 SET SIGHTS ON TITLE

Harpenden M2 - 1     Stevenage M1 - 8 (Danny Blackburn (4), Ben Oliver (2), Andy Blaxill, Gary Brown)
 
Stevenage visited bottom of the table side Harpenden on Saturday knowing that their hosts had helped their push for the title by recently securing a draw with league leaders Bedford.
As usual Stevenage took the game to the home side right from the start with some fine attacking play and created the early chances with Mitch Snares coming close on one occasion. This allowed the home side space to advance but they were thwarted by the strong tackling of Andy Blaxill and Tim Wright. After five minutes a great ball from Gary Brown found Danny Blackburn who made no mistake in firing home to give his side first blood. Harpenden then had a effort cleared off the line by the reliable Chris Nichol who has been in fine form since his return to the side after knee injury.
It was soon 2-0 when another good move involving Nichol and Ben Oliver (pic) found top scorer Blackburn with plenty of space to fire in his second.
The open game suited the visitors' style and after a great pass from Tom Wharton, Niall Anderson was fouled inside the area this resulted in a penalty corner from which Andy Blaxill fired home past a helpless keeper for a third. Tim Dingley was then forced to make a couple of good saves before Harpenden scored the goal their play merited following a silky run and impudent flick over Dingley to make it 3-1 on the 20 minute mark.
Ben Oliver then broke free and his cross was met by predator Blackburn whose effort was well tipped over the bar by the young Harpenden keeper. The Stevenage hit-man was not to be denied his hat-trick and 30th league goal of the season when a few moments later Mark Risley intercepted a Harpenden attack and released Blackburn who after going round two players fired home from the top of the area to make the score 4-1 to his obvious delight!!! [sorry Danny does get a bit carried away in his match reports .... ed]
Both teams were playing some good hockey but at this stage Stevenage were just too strong for their opponents and after a great break from Tim Wright down the centre of the pitch Graham Swinyard won another short corner from which Blaxill crossed for Ben Oliver to fire home a fifth goal for the visitors. Just before the break Gary Brown gave Niall Anderson the chance to add to Stevenage's tally but his shot hit the bar then on to both posts like a pinball machine before being cleared by the Harps defender.
In the second half Harpenden started the better and won a penalty flick after Dingley upended one of the home sides strikers - However he made amends by saving the weakly taken stroke which kept the score at 5-1.
Swinyard, Brown,Risley and Wharton were being kept busy by a flow of Harpenden attacks down their left flank before Stevenage made a fantastic counter down the pitch which was started by Nichols who found Gary Brown, his stylish dribble down the right wing ripped the Harps defence apart before a great ball was picked up by Oliver who slipped a pass to Blackburn who fluffed the opportunity wide when he should have burried it! The Harpenden keeper then made a great stop from Tim Wright before again the visitors defence was called in to action after several good breaks from the hosts midfield and attack. Harpenden probably deserved a couple more goals but were kept at bay by the likes of Wharton,Wright,Blaxill,Nichol and ofcourse Dingley in the goal!
Mitch Snares then hit just wide before a great break started by Tim Wright found Ben Oliver who deflected the ball in to the path of Danny Blackburn who had a free run on goal the oncoming keeper had no chance as Blackburn fired the ball home with the goal at his mercy for his fourth of the afternoon and his sides sixth.
A minute later it was seven when this time after a great through ball from Blaxill, Blackburn drew the Harps keeper and slipped the ball to strike partner Ben Oliver who fired into a empty net for his second of the day. The scoreline was a bit harsh on Harpenden who had at times played some great hockey.  Graham Swinyard then went on a mazy run before offloading the ball to Mark Risley who saw his effort well saved again by the home keeper.
Niall Anderson was having a ball down the right wing and was creating some good chances for Stevenage with the likes of Swinyard,Snares and Brown all coming close to adding to the scoreline.
Chris Nichol then found Gary Brown who skipped past several challenges before roofing the net with a powerful flick which gave the defenceless keeper no chance at all!
The final whistle went at 8-1 with Stevenage's title charge starting to come together as they sit in second place and knowing that league leaders Bedfords defeat has put them right back in the title hunt with games in hand!
 

Stevenage M2  - 1  Bishops Stortford M3 - 0

A mixed 2nd team took to the field with regular right back Callum Mathews replaced by "Dapper" Dan Hanslow.  Skipper Hamilton's rotation
policy also saw the return to the team of old favourite Zeddy.  A changed Bishops Stortford team from November proved tough in the tackle,
but very rarely threatened Jack Dingley in goal.  A moment of indiscipline saw Dave Robinson given a yellow card  for a display of frustration after a ball struck a Stortford foot before going into the goal, only for the umpire to reverse his decision of goal after discussion with his counterpart.  Half time saw both sides going in at 0-0.

The second half saw a reshuffle of personnel and a turn of pressure from the Stevenage side.  Some tight play from Stevenage led to a penalty
stroke.  Man of the Match Steve Scholes converted comfortably, putting the ball top right to give Stevenage the 1-0 lead which remained right
to the end.  A vital three points for Stevenage Sees them keep their mid table spot.


Stevenage M3  -  1   Royston M2   - 3

The home side, clearly missing the influential Ian Wilcock, were knocked off the top spot in their division with a below par performance against old rivals Royston who thoroughly deserved their win. Khalid Mehmood scored the consolation goal.

Harpenden M4 - 1   Stevenage M4 - 1 

A good effort from the visitors, fielding four midfield players averaging 16 years old, against a team pressing for promotion. Adam Presland scored the second half equaliser but the result was built on a strong defensive performance.

Stevenage M6 - 1   Letchworth M6 - 4

The home side looked capable of winning a good open game after Ray Blaxill equalised the visitors' penalty corner opener, but two glaring defensive errors in the second half gave Letchworth the goals to open a clear lead and they were comfortable winners in the end.

The Ladies leagues had a half-term break this week.

Stevenage L4 - 4   Hertford L3 - 0

A fine Jenna Telfer hat-trick and a well deserved clean sheet for keeper Nat Leach were the features of this non-league win. Emma Houlihan scored the other goal.

Romhamsted Ladies - 6   Stevenage L5 - 0

A comprehensive defeat in a rearranged league game against title-chasing Romhamsted for Mariel Adeyeye's side, still battling to remain clear of bottom spot in the league.

SATURDAY 20 FEBRUARY 2010

MOULDY'S MEN EDGE CLOSER TO TITLE WITH TWO WINS THIS WEEKEND

With Stevenage picking up maximum points since the turn of the year last weekend's double header at Nobel, firstly on Saturday against local rivals Letchworth then Sunday against fellow championship challengers Shefford & Sandy, was going to be massive in the possible destiny of the title. Two hard fought, at times edgy, wins have seen injured skipper John Mould watch his side move within two points of leaders Bedford with a game in hand. Danny picked up his 50th goal of the season in all games - 35 of them in this league.

Stevenage M1 - 3  Shefford & Sandy M1 - 1 (rearranged game, played Sunday)

Stevenage were hoping to pick up maximum points to dent fellow promotion candidates Shefford & Sandy's title hopes but it was the visitors who started the better side and caused early problems for the home defence. The composure of Graham Swinyard in central midfield calmed the home side down and gave them the chance to build some flowing attacks.
 
The first real opportunity fell to Mike Oliver who, despite suffering from a virus, hurdled a few challenges before hitting a shot just wide. Gary Brown then received a great pass from Mitch Snares but saw his effort deflected over the bar.  But it was  the visitors who went 1-0 up after Matt Oliver was adjudged to have fouled in the circle for a penalty stroke which was converted with Dingley sent the wrong way. Stevenage were now wasting the openings and short corner chances they were creating and did not look likely winners, with Tim Dingley having to make a couple of first class saves.
 
Hauling themselves back in the game Stevenage were awarded a penalty stroke themselves for a foul as Andy Blaxill worked on a short corner. Danny Blackburn stepped up and powerfully fired his flick in to the goal like a laser beam for the crucial equaliser. But Shefford then applied more pressure with Wharton and Nichol forced to make timely interventions. As the game swung from end to end the away keeper showed he was on fine form with Ben Oliver coming the closest to beating him.
 
Stevenage eventually took the lead when Graham Swinyard hit a great long ball to Danny Blackburn who after going past a defender, drew and went round the oncoming keeper before calmly hitting the ball in to the net with flair; this gave Stevenage a halftime lead but unfortunately Blackburn had to retire injured thanks to the flamboyance of his goal scoring.
 
The second half started at a frantic pace with a number of challenges too heavy for some players. Stevenage's Mike Oliver was warned for dissent before his brother Ben, and a later a Shefford defender, were sin-binned for similar offences. The visitors were taking the game to the hosts and if it hadn't been for some classy defending from Wright and Nichol, and some good saves from Dingley could have had goals to show for their pressure.  The home side also had to thank Man of the Match Graham Swinyard for calmly breaking up Shefford attacks as they were starting to look a little panicky without their usual outlets of Ben Oliver and Blackburn.
 
But while still playing with 10 men Stevenage scored a third goal that gave them breathing space. A mistake from the visitors in midfield set Matt Oliver on his way again and after a great one-two with Risley set up Mike Oliver who won a short corner. This was well worked by Andy Blaxill and Matt Oliver for Mike Oliver to force the ball home at the far post.
 

Stevenage M1  - 5  Letchworth M2  - 1

Saturday's game was never going to be easy as Letchworth took the first points off John Moulds side earlier in the season so a good start was essential, but whenever the home side take to the field you can expect to see full out attacking play and it wasn't long before after a great run from Matt Oliver the first chance was put over the bar by Gary Brown. Letchworth then almost took the lead from a short corner but luckily Tim Dingley was in fine form to tip the ball round the post after a good strike from the visitors.
 
Stevenage's forward movement was causing a few problems for the visitors with Blackburn and two of the four Oliver brothers who were in the Stevenage side, Ben and Mike, each having good chances to score. The breakthrough finally came when after a great ball from Gary Brown, Ben Oliver put strike partner Danny Blackburn in the clear and his powerful flick gave the Letchworth keeper no chance.   Letchworth then applied  some pressure but their search for an equaliser was frustrated by Wright, Matt Oliver and Blaxill.
 
It was soon 2-0 with Man of the Match Ben Oliver again provider but this time for brother - after a great ball from Mitch Snares, he drew two defenders before passing to Mike Oliver to cooly slip the ball past the advancing keeper. Just before the break it was 3-0 when the ever reliable Graham Swinyard won a penalty corner after a tough tackle in the circle. Andy Blaxill was somewhat fortunate to see his shot ricochet off a defender, high over the keeper and just below the bar.
 
The second half continued where the first had left off with two sides playing open attacking hockey, the difference was the home side looked more dangerous when attacking and were a constant threat to their opponents. In the opening minutes of the half Letchworth had a couple of good penalty corners which were well saved by Dingley. Mark Risley and Chris Nichol then combined well down the left wing to give Jon Oliver a opportunity to get on the scoresheet, the visitors keeper was up to the challenge as he made a impressive save.  Risley was then involved in another well worked attack this time Snares hit just wide. The home side were then camped in the Letchworth half and after a great pass from Ben Oliver, Blackburn saw a good chance well saved.
 
The temperature increased a little when Gary Brown was sin-binned for something he said and Dingley made a fine double save as Letchworth pushed forward. But the Stevenage lead was increased to 4-0 when after a great ball from Tim Wright, Danny Blackburn saw his effort well saved before making no mistake in smashing home the rebound for his second of the day. Swinyard then set up Mike Oliver who made it 5-0 with a tremendous finish after skipping round a defender. Ben Oliver almost made it six but again his shot was saved.
 
Letchworth did get the consolation goal their play deserved when two Stevenage old boys - Graham Swift and Tom Spencer - combined for Spencer to strike past a helpless Dingley.
 

Hertford M2 - 5   Stevenage M2 - 1

The mens 2s struggled to find any form in a hard fought but often fraught game.  The only joy came from a Dan Farnan goal in the second half, in a game which saw the visitors misplacing passes to give Broxbourne the edge they needed to score 5 goals.  Some fine work from the two full backs, Callum Mathews and Dan Hanslow, kept the scoreline as low as it was, for which Callum earned his man of the match.
 

Harpenden M3 - 1  Stevenage M3 - 1

Despite a last minute domestic injury preventing Ray Blaxill playing, M3 were able to continue their "oldies first" policy with stand-in Tony Farnan starring and Chris Strickland grabbing the equaliser from a well worked short corner (or so we were told). Both goals came in the second half and M3 slip to second in the table on goal difference.

Stevenage M4 - 1   Hertford M3 - 3

A cracking equaliser from Brownie left it 1 - 1 at halftime against visitors lying second in the table, but two goals in the second half killed off the home team.

Stevenage M5 - 1   Cheshunt M3 - 3

Dave Wells tapped in to put the home side ahead at half-time, but the visitors came away with a deserved win thanks to goals after the break.

No game again for L1, and L3 and L5 played friendlies

Stevenage L2 - 4   Chess Valley L1 - 0

Alfie Gunther (pic) scored all 4 as the home side eased past visitors who turned up with 10 and were reduced to 9 by injury in the second half, but let that take nothing away from a solid performance in which the girls had to battle to within a minute of half-time before getting the first. Alfie followed up a Debbi Church shot which hit the post for the second and it was one way traffic from then.

Stevenage L3 - 0   Hertford L2 - 1

Despite fielding L1 skipper and keeper Jenny Harding at centre forward L3 were just not good enough to make an impression on this friendly game.

Welwyn Garden City L4 - 1   Stevenage L4 - 1

After Holly Ashworth was set free to beat the home keeper it looked like a much needed league win for the visitors who were floored by an equaliser in the final seconds of the game.

Stevenage L5 - 2   Hertford L4 - 4

Good debut for Aussie newcomer Lou Nickell who grabbed both goals in this friendly match.

SATURDAY 27 FEBRUARY 2010

GREAT WIN FOR L1 AS M1 EDGE CLOSER TO PROMOTION

Southgate Adelaide M1 - 1  Stevenage M1 - 5 (Brown 2, Mould, Blackburn 2)

Stevenage made another step towards promotion into Division 2 with a scrappy win at strugglers Southgate Adelaide on Saturday. Fielding a side missing 5 key players, Stevenage were unable to play with their usual thrust and instead looked to get a foothold into the game with a disciplined approach. An uneventful opening 15 minutes saw plenty of midfield sparring with Adelaide looking to get the ball out to their right-winger at every available opportunity. Tom Wharton was constantly taken on at left-back and dealt well with the pressure. On the occasions when the winger did get through, the expert timing of Tim Wright averted the danger.

Through having possession in the visitors half Southgate were gaining in confidence and starting to push forward in numbers which led to Stevenage’s first chance of the game as John Mould mugged the sweeper on the halfway line and raced through with just the keeper to beat, the home stopper reacting well to deflect the shot away.

This woke Stevenage up and Gary Brown (pic) started pulling the strings in midfield, getting Ryall Swartz into the game as the visitors had their first long spells of possession in Southgate territory. This pressure turned into the first sustained attack as the home keeper made good saves from Mould, Swartz and Andy Blaxill. He then made a great double save from Mould and then Anderson, but could consider himself unlucky that it wasn’t a triple-save as Brown rifled the ball back towards goal, struck the flying keeper hard on the torso and watched the ball trickle just over the line for the opening goal.

Feeling less pressure, Stevenage were able to push forward with Mark Risley, adapting superbly to right-back, getting involved in the attacks. Swartz was winning several free hits in dangerous positions and from one he was found on the right wing and fizzed in a superb cross which Mould controlled before slotting into the corner on reverse from 12 yards. Brown missed a good chance to add a 3rd before half time but it was a comfortable team-talk nonetheless.

It was all change on the restart as Southgate piled on the pressure, Dingley saved well from the centre forward before the defence was breached by a through ball leaving two Southgate players unmarked 3 yards from goal - Dingley had no chance as one finished clinically. Southgate continued to press and Stevenage narrowly survived a string of short corners with excellent goal-line saves from Wright and Risley. It was then down to Dingley to keep Stevenage in front with a well judged block from a one-on-one and an excellent near post save. Another block at the feet of the Southgate forward led to an aggressive reaction and the sin-binning of the home player.

It was time for Stevenage to go for the jugular and introduce half-fit top-scorer Danny Blackburn from the bench. Within a minute a fine Stevenage break fell to Mould in the circle and he unselfishly played in Blackburn who passed the ball into the bottom corner. He almost scored again from the very next attack as Anderson smashed the ball in from the right and the striker fired goalwards only to see the ball flash off the keepers helmet and over the bar. Moments later the game was dead when Swartz swept the ball across to skipper Graham Swinyard whose first time slap into the circle was also met first time, at waist height, by Blackburn for his second goal in a 5-minute cameo appearance. As the home defence questioned the legitimacy of the goal, Blackburn (his work done) quietly returned to the bench and his phone.

It was a comfortable last 10 minutes for Stevenage as Southgate heads dropped. Brown made it 5-1 as he powered in a rebound from a goalmouth scramble. The only question remained as to whether Brown could complete his hatrick but he squandered chances created by Swinyard and Mitch Snares to leave the final score at 5-1.

A better performance will be required by Stevenage next week as they entertain league leaders Bedford II at Nobel, knowing that victory will put them top and guarantee promotion.

Stevenage M3 - 2  Letchworth M3 - 4

After going 2 - 1 ahead, both goals coming from Adam Spicer, the home side crashed to another defeat against their local rivals - leaving them close to the relegation zone - with the visitors scoring 3 times from penalty corners.

Stevenage M3 - 13   Rickmansworth M2  -  1

So tight is it at the top of this division that a 14th goal would have given the home side top spot. Goals scorers in an obviously one sided game were Harp Mann & Nick Crocker (both hat-tricks), Tufty Barlow (2), Chris Strickland, Chris White, Terry Kingston, Zeddy and  Seb Rose.

MBDA - 2  Stevenage M4 - 1

As they share a pitch, this game felt like a home fixture for both teams but meant much more to MBDA who clawed their way out of the bottom two in the table after falling behind to a rare Dave Berry goal.

Royston M5 - 3  Stevenage M5 - 1

The visitors lost ground in mid table after a surprise defeat to bottom side Royston.

Letchworth M6 - 1   Stevenage M6 - 0

Despite being under pressure for most of the game the visitors held on well and had good chances on the break before losing out to a second half penalty corner strike.

Stevenage L1 - 1  Old Loughtonians L2 - 0

Stevenage set their sights on a finish in the top half of the table after a tense, hard fought and controversial win over the league leaders. The home side once more started brightly in a goal-less, end-to-end first half. After the break Carly Seaton's strike lead to the only score of the game but some of the visitors disputed the goal and this lead to a spell in the sin-bin for two of them. In a frantic finish to the game the home side held on thanks to a tremendous double save from captain and keeper Jenny Harding.

Stevenage L2 - 2   St Albans L2 - 1

The home side moved to level on points with their 3rd place visitors as a result of this win thanks to goals from Debbi Church and Kate Scorer.

Stevenage L3 - 1  Blueharts L2 - 7

The visitors underlined their second placed status with an emphatic victory to continue the poor run of results that keeps L3 near the foot of the table. Becky O'Connor scored the consolation goal.

Cheshunt L2 - 0  Stevenage L4 - 2

The visitors came out on top in this relegation scrap, sealed by strikes from Maggie O'Connor and Louise Mevillot, and go 5 points clear of their rivals.

No game this week for L5

 


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