SATURDAY 2 JANUARY 2010

WEATHER WINS BUT ST NEOTS CAN'T BEAT US

Despite having 5 matches cancelled, we played a total of 6 friendly games - all against St Neots - winning 4 and drawing the other two.
 
St Neots M1 - 3   Stevenage M1 - 4
After a bright start, the visitors took the lead with a vicious reverse stick strike into the top corner from Gary Brown. Saints equalised soon after with a smart goal on the break before Andy Blaxill restored the lead with a short corner strike. Stevenage took this advantage to half time in confident mood thanks to the constant menace of Richard Hamilton and threat of Brown.
However the second half started badly with a wayward pass setting up a fruitful raid on goal for the unopposed home attack and this was followed by a period of stalemate as Stevenage attempted to regain their authority. The lead was retaken in unusual fashion as Andy Blaxill took a quick free hit on the right wing, dribbled into the circle and squared, only for a defender to unfairly prevent Danny Blackburn from scoring only to see the ball crossed the line off after an inadvertent deflection from the striker's foot. After consultation the umpires agreed on a goal to the disappointment of the home side.
This gave the visitors the impetus needed to press on and Brown could have added another before Danny (pic) made it 4-2 with minutes left. A even later home goal lead to a nervy finish in freezing rain.
 
Stevenage M3 - 4  St Neots M3 - 2
A comfortable win for the home side with goals from Khalid Mehmood, Ryall Swartz, Roger Barlow and Gary Fung, guesting for his former club.
 
Stevenage M4 - 4   St Neots M4 - 0
The visitors held out for half an hour but were eventually overcome by goals from Ian Brown, Martin Neville and Tony Farnan (2)
 
Stevenage L1 - 2  St Neots L1 - 1
Lucy Harvey and Debbi Church scored the goals that beat a visiting side reduced to 9 players at one stage, but it took a late winner to overcome their stubborn resistance
 
St Neots L3 - 2  Stevenage L3 - 2
Annabel Reilly and Becky O'Connor were the visitor's scorers in a cracking game which will give them increased confidence for the second half of the term
 
St Neots L4 - 0  Stevenage L4 - 0
Another improved performance from the visitors benefiting from the coaching of Tim Dingley. Jo Howlett will regret not taking a good opportunity to win the game.
 
 

SATURDAY 9 JANUARY 2010

ALL MATCHES FALL VICTIM TO THE FREEZE

Five Ladies teams and M1 (who were due to play a rearranged fixture against Shandy) will have to rearrange games as frozen pitches meant the cancellation of all games locally. M2 to M6 lost only friendly matches.

SATURDAY 16 JANUARY 2010

L1 save the Ladies from a whitewash as Men lose 3 games to the weather

L1 beat Harpenden 3 - 1. Once again the home side started strongly applying pressure from the first whistle. This paid dividends with Caroline Ayles giving them the lead by deflecting Holly Mould's flick into the goal, and Claire Young smashing the ball past the visitor's keeper to add a second. However Harpenden came back into the game and, after a number of offences by Stevenage players, Becky Graves was the one to be sin-binned for a stick tackle that on it's own may not have warranted a card. Down to 10 the home side struggled to contain Harpenden and conceded a scrappy goal: only a fine one-on-one save from keeper Jenny Harding let them go to half-time ahead. Knowing they needed another goal to feel safe Stevenage went on the attack again in the second half and were unfortunate not to get that goal when an umpire failed to play advantage as Caroline Ayles netted. But Caz did not have to wait long for another chance to get her second of the game as she was put through to beat the advancing keeper and make the game safe. A great start to 2010 and a fine victory in which MotM Holly Mould was solid at the back.
 

L2 lost 1 - 6 at Royston I. Debbi Church scored the consolation goal for the visitors who were overwhelmed by a side at the top of the table.

L3 lost 0 - 2 at Vauxhall Chiltern II, a very disappointing result against a side below them in the table.

L4 lost 0 - 4 to Saffron Walden IV. After a good first half in which the second placed visitors were held to just one goal, the home team fell apart in the second and needed a MotM performance from keeper Nat Leach to hold their opponents to just four.

L5 lost 1 - 5 to Tring IV. Skipper Marial Adayeye scored but the home side were  well beaten by well organised young visitors

No games for M1, M4 and M6 as their opponents were perhaps a little too keen to call off games when pitches were still snow covered on Friday. 

M2 lost 1 - 3 to West Herts III. The home side grabbed a goal lead in a close first half when Ryall Swartz pounced on the rebound after Larry Hamilton's shot was saved. The visitors pressed hard after halftime but when this storm seemed to have been weathered Stevenage conceded 3 goals in 10 minutes and rarely looked like coming back. The first of these was hard on the impressive Dave Robinson who seemed to have pulled off a fine defensive challenge only to see a penalty flick awarded and converted.

M3 beat Broxbourne IV 5 - 3. Harp Mann equalised after the division leaders went behind early, and Danny Blackburn (2) and Roger Barlow added goals to give a comfortable halftime lead. In a more even but scrappy second half the visitors pulled goals back but Tufty added his second and ensured M3 stay top.

M5 beat Letchworth VI 3 - 0. Goals from Tony Farnan and youngster Andy Davies gave the home side an impressive victory over their local rivals.

SATURDAY 23 JANUARY 2010

GREAT RESULT FOR GIRLS AT BLUETARTS WHILE M1 FIND GOAL SCORING STICKS AGAIN

Stevenage M1 - 7 Rickmansworth M1 - 1
Having won their first 6 games of the season handsomely Stevenage were without a league win since 14 November but put that right in fine style at Nobel on Saturday. After an even first few minutes the home side broke down the right through Mike Oliver who passed to brother Ben at the top of the circle and he finished expertly. This provoked a tidal wave of attacking as the visiting keeper made saves from Andy Blaxill (pic) and Danny before Andy converted from a penalty corner. Ben Oliver added his second minutes later following an exquisite turn, and Gary Brown and Mike Oliver took the tally to five with only 25 minutes on the clock, as accurate passing hockey sliced through the Rickmansworth defence.
Stevenage started the second half strongly, with top striker Blackburn finally getting on the scoresheet and Gary adding his second before teamwork and discipline gave way to a more chaotic approach which for the first time in the match gave the visitors periods of prolonged possession. The Stevenage defence limited their chances well but with the last play of the game a soft shot from the visitor's sixth penalty corner of the half bobbled into the goal to give the away team some reward for not giving up throughout.

Luton M2 - 1 Stevenage M2 - 1
This was a closely fought match that Stevenage should have won, the visitors controlling the second half for long spells and creating and missing two clear cut chances. Each side had a mixture of youth and experience, with Stevenage dominating territorially and the home side hitting them on the break.
Larry Hamilton scored early forcing home from a penalty corner after Steve Scholes' effort was blocked, and the visitors went on to have several more penalty corners, but did not capitalise on their domination. This allowed Luton back into the game and from a break away their experienced centre forward scored cleverly. In the second half Stevenage young players inter-passed well but could not break through against an experienced defence. That was until Larry was left one on one with the keeper and tried to lift the ball over him only to find his intentions had been well read by the stopper.

St Albans M5 - 1 Stevenage M3 - 2
A fiercely contested fixture saw a goal in each half from Harp Mann settle the result in favour of the away team who stay top of their division. Stevenage held out with a dogged rear guard action for the final ten minutes although Chris Watson nearly put the game beyond doubt with a couple of breakaway efforts near the end.

Stevenage M4 - 1 Blueharts M5 - 0
The home side won an extremely tight game against the division's bottom placed side with a goal from Tom Woolley.


Hertford M4 - 0 Stevenage M5 - 5
After a shaky start and goalless first half the visitors gradually took control and Kevin Wharton, Bailey Dingley and former Hertford player Dave Wells (3) scored the goals courtesy of some good attacking play and after poor defending by the home team.

Stevenage M6 - 0 St Albans M7 - 10
From the first minute to the last St Albans dominated this game and their young forward line was always too skilful and quick for a static defence. Only goalkeeper JP Alion stood between his team and an even more embarrassing scoreline despite the efforts of a handful of enthusiastic young players in the home team.

Blueharts L1 - 1 Stevenage L1 - 1
After twice losing to Blueharts already this season Stevenage were determined to do better this time by capitalising on their recent good form. This determination showed in a typically strong start before the game settled and a good first half produced action at both ends of the pitch. The visitors were defending from the front and were encouraged when Claire Young had the ball in the net from a penalty corner: although this was quite rightly disallowed it increased their belief in their ability to earn a result.
After a goalless first half and with Carly Seaton giving a Man of the Match performance in midfield, this belief grew but received a cruel blow when Blueharts scored a somewhat scrappy goal from a short corner. But far from give up the visitors moved forward and won a short corner of their own which Carly Seaton struck at the keeper: Claire Young followed up the rebound to equalise.
A draw was a good result for Stevenage but towards the end they had the chances to make it even better.

Stevenage L2 - 3 Shefford & Sandy L2 - 1
Stevenage took an early lead in this lively contest through Bex Church with the visitors equalising through a penalty flick. The award of the penalty raised the temperature of the game somewhat and ultimately lead to Stevenage player Liz "Bad Dog" Gates being sin-binned - although by that time the home side were coasting, 3-1 up through goals from Hannah Finch and Debbi Church. Against 10 players the visitors mounted a prolonged but fruitless siege of the home goal.

Stevenage L3 - 0 St Albans L3 - 6
A strong St Albans side were well in control from the first whistle although Stevenage battled hard to match their more adept and well organised opponents who fielded a very talented higher team player returning from long term injury who scored one of the games best strikes from the edge of the circle.

Stevenage L4 - 1 Letchworth L4 - 1
The home side came back from a goal down thanks to a super goal from Ros Fewell who came close to grabbing a winner too.

Leighton Buzzard L5 - 4 Stevenage L5 - 0
An under-strength visiting team were never going to be a match for a side from a higher division despite a huge effort from all, especially player of the match Michelle Bagnall.

SATURDAY 30 JANUARY 2010

WEATHER STRIKES AGAIN AS M1 FIXTURE BACKLOG BUILDS

Frozen pitches returned somewhat unexpectedly to ruin the Club's Saturday. With all home matches, at Nobel and John Henry Newman Schools, postponed the on-form mens and ladies 1st XIs were forced to sit out the weekend and only three away games were played: all ended in defeat.
St Neots L3 - 1    Stevenage L3 -  0
With no overnight snow in St Neots the game was played in bright morning sunshine albeit on a pitch still frozen in places, and for 40 minutes both teams played good open hockey without taking any of the chances on offer at both ends. But early in the second half a smart turn from the home centre forward - with some suggested a little help from a toe - produced the only goal of the game and from then on L3 struggled to make an impact on the game and, despite a good showing from their young forwards, their disappointing run of results continues.
 
West Herts M5 - 5  Stevenage M4 - 1
Despite a typically robust performance from the visitors which at times provided a challenge to the umpires, they were swept aside by a side more suited to the tricky conditions underfoot and finished the first half 3 - 0 behind. However it was only a string of good saves from the home goalkeeper - keeping out shots from Brownie, Si and Stevie - that stopped a second half come back before two late goals finished the game. Ian Brown (pic) scored the consolation goal.
 
 
West Herts M6 - 7   Stevenage M6 - 1
For the second successive week the visitors found themselves overwhelmed early in the game with both the pitch and lighting proving almost as difficult as their more sure-footed opponents. 3 - 0 down after 15 minutes and facing another double-digit defeat, skipper Tony Farnan was able to lift his team to better things by going forward against the odds, and when Harry Wheeler rounded off a fine dribble to score near the end, after the home team had netted four more, this was scant reward for their attacking approach.

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