NO TITLE FOR M1 .... THIS WEEK
Bedford M3 - 6 Stevenage M1 - 4
Stevenage travelled to relegation threatened Bedford 3s expecting a tough match but knowing that victory would secure the Div 3SW League Title.
Title contenders Bedford 2s left for their match (they won 4 - 3 at WGC to draw level on points with Stevenage at the top) in buoyant mood having seen their club colleagues open the scoring with their very first attack as a right wing move was tapped in at the back post. The home side was allowed to play some good hockey as the visitors adapted to the bouncy surface but neither side was creating chances. Up front, Danny Blackburn and Ben Oliver were unable to keep possession and the visitors were repeatedly pegged back as Bedford cleared their lines with a succession of huge high flicks.
Stevenage were beginning to get a foothold in midfield as Graham Swinyard, Gary Brown and Mark Risley started to pass the ball around but they only looked dangerous when Mike Oliver was running at the home defence. It was this source that won Stevenage two short corners, Blaxill and Brown seeing their efforts saved.
Bedford were soon back on the attack and round the back of the Stevenage defence to make it 2-0 from close range. With minutes to go until half time, Blackburn rounded the keeper and saw his flick saved on the line by a defender. As several players appealed for a penalty, the ball broke to Mike Oliver who was able to slam the ball in on reverse. Stevenage’s joy was short lived as for a third time, the Bedford forwards were able to react quickest to a ball in the goalmouth and tuck the ball in past a helpless Tim Dingley.
Early in the second half Bedford increased their lead to 4-1 with another well worked goal from the right which Dingley was unlucky to keep out with a diving parry in which he picked up a shoulder injury.
A break in play finally sparked a Stevenage revival as Brown’s endeavour found Risley who laid off for Blaxill to cross to Ben Oliver (pic) to sweep home. Minutes later a loose ball was only partially cleared to Gary Brown at the top of the D. With time to set himself he unleashed a brutal reverse stick shot which flashed into the roof of the net before the home keeper had time to move. 4-3 and game on.
Straight away Stevenage were back on the attack and Mike Oliver’s cross was parried wide by Mitch Snares as Brown looked certain to score from the back post. Still the visitors kept coming, this time Ben Oliver wriggling into a good position to cross back but instead choosing to aim a fierce undercut into the top corner of the net.
With 5 minutes to go Stevenage were intent on grabbing the crucial winner, but credit to the home side who managed to retain some possession and win their first short corner of the game. A double deflection meant the shot cruelly crept past the unfortunate Dingley and the final nail was put in Stevenage’s coffin as a second short corner goal for Bedford completed the scoring at 6-4.
Having to field 2 injured players really cost Stevenage some ground in a good competitive game, but it will certainly be noted that the lowly opposition was a strong a team as has been seen in the division all season. Bedford 1XI’s ‘shock’ defeat at home to lower opposition will delight conspiracy theorists, but two facts remain:
1) Losing to a weaker Bedford 3s (and dropping more points in December) earlier in the season were more costly than this spirited defeat in a good game against tactically (but not unreasonably) strengthened opposition.
2) THE LEAGUE IS STILL IN OUR HANDS BOYS, SO LETS SPEND THE WEEK IN THE OXYGEN CHAMBER (Danny, Tim W) GET THIS SATURDAY OFF WORK, AND GET THE 3 POINTS THAT WILL STOP DANNY FROM RUINING THE DINNER FOR EVERYONE!!!
Stevenage M2 - 2 Potters Bar M1 - 5
Despite a much more spirited showing from James Hamilton's young side against the league leaders the visitors raced to a 5-0 lead. A fine display of courage and grit turned the game from what the 2s have been used to these last few weeks into something to build on when Niall Anderson narrowly missed and Ollie Holt screamed one over the bar. However, it was the determination of Larry Hamilton and Niall Anderson that pulled two goals back with ten minutes to go.
Stevenage M3 - 6 Blueharts M4 - 0
This win clinched second place and promotion for the home side who lead 5 - 0 at half time. Harp Mann grabbed a hat-trick, Khalid Mehmood a brace and Nick Crocker scored the other.
Cheshunt M2 - 5 Stevenage M4 - 2
The visitors raced to a two goal lead with goals from Adam Presland and Chris Barry, but folded against the league leaders having guaranteed a respectable top half of the table position themselves.
West Herts M6 - 1 Stevenage M5 - 1
The home side took an early lead, equalised before half time by Kevin Wharton, but found visiting keeper Mike Hamid in great form.
Stevenage M6 v Potters Bar M3
A tremendous win for the league's bottom team, against a Bar side still in the hunt for promotion, means they cannot now finish bottom. Harry Wheeler scored the opening goal and also forced Ray Blaxill's cross over the line for the winner after the visitors levelled.
Stevenage L1 - 0 Welwyn Garden City L1 - 1
For the second successive week the home side monopolised the ball, could not convert possession into goals, and then lost the game to the only chance the opposition created
Stevenage L2 - 3 Letchworth L3 - 1
The home side must wait for results from St Albans to see if this win gives them promotion. Prompted by Jo Thorpe they raced to a 3 - 0 lead through Hannah Finch, Alfi Gunther and Bex Church.
Bishops Stortford L4 - 5 Stevenage L3 - 2
The loser of this match was to be rewarded with relegation, but it was a game played in great spirit and the visitors at least achieved a couple of goals after a long drought. Annabelle Reilly tapped in a rebound from the post and Claudia Strickland smashed home a rebound from the keeper's pads.
No game for L4 this week
Stevenage L5 - 1 Hertford L4 - 3
Stevenage lost out on another battle for bottom league place after holding their visitors to 1 - 1 at half time with a goal from Lou Nickell.