Stevenage M1 - 4 Southend M1 - 1
Stevenage entertained the club that beat them 7 - 2 in October full of confidence after two fine victories in succession, but forced to make changes to their side and give a first team debut to veteran Tony Farnan, who started in an unfamiliar forward position.
With the home side understandably cautious all of the early pressure came from the visitors and this seemed likely to increase when Andy Blaxill left the action without a substitute to receive attention to a cut thumb. But skipper John Mould switched to sweeper, and looked threatening on raids through the middle of the pitch from this position, and Gary Brown opened the scoring for the home side while they were a man short. Back at 11 players Stevenage conceded an equaliser the visitors deserved and the game went to the break with the scores level and the game very much in the balance.
However it was a half-time tactical switch that seemed to tip the game in favour of the home side. Tony Farnan was pulled back to a midfield marking role, where he continued to impress, and this gave more freedom to Danny Blackburn, Ben Oliver and Mould. From the restart this line-up looked much more dangerous and a penalty corner resulted in a goal when Blaxill dummied a shot before slipping the ball to John Mould to score with a drag flick into the roof of the net.
With a combination of aggression and commitment in midfield Stevenage held on to this advantage for 15 minutes before Gary Brown found space to smash the ball in the bottom corner and extend it. Stevenage did not let up and continued to be the more committed side, with some challenges from Brown and Ben Oliver riling the visitors before Oliver scored a 4th with a shot to the top corner of the goal 10 minutes from time to kill the game as a contest.
A well merited run of three wins in three games in 2011 has lifted Stevenage from the relegation zone to within three points of the third place side in a very tight division.
Berkhamsted M2 - 2 Stevenage M2 - 6
There's robust, there's Luton then there's Berko 2s. In a game that at points were a precursor to the 6 Nations starting next week, Berko tried their hardest to injure a younger, quicker and, for the most part, smarter Stevenage side. A frantic first five saw the away side under pressure from a physically dominant Berkhamstead side, but weathered the early onslaught well without the rock that is van Rooijen. Stevenage opened the scoring on a short corner, with an attempted flick at goal by Hamilton being palmed down by the opposition 'keeper, only for Andy Gardner to mop up. Again Berko pressured Stevenage and when young Stevie Hamid was pushed out of the way and a ball hit on to his foot, they got a short corner themselves. The defence tried to get themselves ready for a short, but it was taken before they were prepared and the home side snuck a goal. A few minutes later, another short to Berko saw a ball goal bound hit a Stevenage foot with a flick the result. Dave Church went the right way, got a glove to the ball even, only to see it into his top left. 2-1 down and Stevenage were annoyed with themselves for not being stronger. But then another short corner to Stevenage, another attempted shot at goal from Hamilton, a rebound up off the pads to Gardner, another ball in the back of the net. Half time, 2-2.
The team talk went along the lines of "Play to our strengths, not theirs." So it was that they did, with Dan Farnan making a fine run down the right hand side 10 seconds into the half. It didn't go anywhere, but it signalled intent. Wharton, Gardner, Hamid, Church and Matthews remained resolute in defence. Hamilton, Holt and Trew mopped up loose balls in the middle. Watson held up balls and played people through from the centre forward role. Snares and Farnan ran their socks off. It showed. After a Berko player threatened young Hamid, the umpire had no choice but to let him calm down in the corner. Stevenage upped the pressure. Farnan missed a couple of chances, then scored a couple. Holt stood on the back post, and when a ball came from Hamilton at the half way line to Watson, who cleverly reverse stick passed it to him, the score was 5-2. It was wrapped up when an open play goal from man of the match Gardner started a move from left back and ran down the pitch to follow the passes, only to tuck it in on the right hand post.
Stevenage deserved all the glory and got it. A fine performance from all 11 men.
Stevenage M3 - 4 Bishops Stortford M5 - 1 (Match Abandoned)
This game at Nobel School was abandoned with 10 minutes to go due to floodlight failure. The home team were leading 4-1 with a hat trick from Roger Barlow and a goal from Niall Anderson and victory was looking assured before play was stopped.
Letchworth M5 - 2 Stevenage M4 - 1
On the balance of play Letchworth were good value for the win. But a battling reformance by the 4s ended in heartbreak when the home side grabbed a last minute winner. The game started with both sides have chances early on. However it was Letchworth who took the lead with a shot though a crowded circle. The second half started with Stevenage having to shuffle there pack after Tom Woolley and Simon Russell both picked up injuries. But with no subs, both players had to carry on. Letchworth continued to dominate possession but couldn't find a way past Tim Dingley and a dogged Stevenage defence including Ian Brown as am emergency right back. But with time running out Bailey Dingley had the back of the net with a well struck shot that left Swifty in the Letchworth goal with no chance. Just as it looked like the 4s had managed a draw. Letchworth found a winner from a broken short corner play. The 4s had no time to respond and the game finished with Harry Wheeler, Bailey Dingley and Dave Berry all hobbling.
Stevenage M5 - 2 Bedford Town M5 - 2
A spirited attacking performance from Stevenage, who managed to find their passing rhythm against a 16 man Bedford squad on a chilly afternoon, pitchside temperatures hovering just a degree or two above freezing. As usual, Stevenage came out fighting from the start, and some of the best joined-up passing seen this season led to a surprising goal for captain Dave Wells in the first ten minutes, generously assisted by attacking central-midfielder David Spicer, who made this new position his own throughout the game. After several more coordinated attempts, Wells drew out the Bedford keeper and chipped the ball into the goal to bring the score at half time to 2-0. During the second half however, Stevenage’s wheels began to come off – on the positive side still attacking strongly, but not returning to defend quickly enough, leaving the back three exposed and outnumbered and Bedford capitalised on the use of their constant supply of fresh legs and a couple of short corners to equalise with two goals. Despite coming close on several occasions, Stevenage couldn’t break the deadlock in the last ten minutes – once again frustrating for the team, but grateful for the point against a team residing at the top end of the league.
Bedford Town Veterans - 12 Stevenage M6 - 0
The league leaders recorded a victory over their opponents by exactly the same margin as the meeting in Stevenage earlier this season, and the scoreline was a fair reflection of the superiority of a side packed with players experienced at the highest level over a team full only of heart and effort.
Stevenage L1 - 2 Hertford L1 - 1
This week was a battle of bottom of the table, Stevenage started well with a couple of near misses from Carly Seaton and Kate Murray. Stevenage kept up the good play with Jude Weston's super runs up the line and switch between Kate Murray and Sasha Parker to break the defence, Sasha managed to put the ball past the keeper. Hertford had few and far chances but nothing keeper Lisa Pickard couldn't handle. 2 minutes into the second half Sasha scored again with a great reverse stick shot, Hertford picked up the pace and got one back but Stevenage stayed solid and went away with 3 points.
Vauxhall Chiltern L1 - 3 Stevenage L2 - 2
A goal within the first 20 seconds by the home side put Stevenage on the back foot and they struggled to find their rhythm in the first half, conceding a second shortly after. They managed to pull back a goal through Hannah Finch only to concede a questionable 3rd before half time.
The second half was much better from Stevenage who pulled another goal back through Alfie Gunther, and they fought to the end but sadly could not find that the equaliser they probably deserved.
Harpenden L3 - 0 Stevenage L3 - 2
A great performance from the whole team who worked fantastically well to a well deserved win against 2nd placed Harpenden, with goals from Claire Wakefield and Sam Franklin. A great farewell game for Sam Franklin – scoring in her last game before she goes back to Uni. She will be missed.
Stevenage L4 & L5 - Matches postponed due to frozen pitches