L2s 0 - Aylesbury 2s 0
Stevenage held this week’s guests Aylesbury 2’s to a goalless draw in a hard fought dog fight from which the home side were unlucky not to emerge victorious.
Whilst the visitors had youth and speed on their side, Stevenage were physically stronger and better disciplined in their game. Indeed, the red rear gunners hardly put a foot or stick wrong for the entire game, conceding just one short corner in 70 minutes. Player of the match Liz “The Stuka” Gates homed in on her prey with deadly accuracy, rarely missing an interception and quite rightly earning a special mention in this despatch. Aylesbury’s saviour was their keeper who, filling the nets more than most, blocked every direct shot on goal. The best chance of scoring was a fast break past a high defence, thereby forcing the keeper off her line and opening up the goal. Sadly for Stevenage, their key striker Alfie Gunther is grounded due to injury and, whilst they were able to catch the visiting defence on the hop, their passing options were limited once in the D. Packing the circle with red attackers and midfield produced some near misses and a few bloody knees due to some over enthusiastic carpet bombing.
Stevenage take a short hop down to Cheshunt next Saturday and hope their striker’s flight status has been re-instated.
M1s 2 - Brentwood 7
Stevenage’s terrible season continued as they travelled under strength to joint league leaders Brentwood on Saturday. The visitors started the better and surprisingly took a early lead when Matt Oliver fired the ball across for Danny Blackburn to fire home with a first time strike which gave the advancing Brentwood keeper no chance at all. This seemed to give confidence to the Stevenage side and they pushed forward trying to extend the lead. Jon Oliver was controlling the midfield with the support of Scott Davies and Gary Brown and with the back up of Paul Graves who was making some invaluable challenges Stevenage were looking good. The game became very open as both sides started to create openings, as expected Brentwood began to get the upper hand and ten minutes before the break they scored two goals in a minute which totally shell shocked the visitors. Oliver’s army had battled hard and now for all their efforts found themselves trailing again in a match. Dan Farnan then broke through after a great pass from James Hamilton but he was unable to beat the Brentwood keeper even though he had Brown open to his left.
Just before the break Brentwood added a third to make it 3-1 at the interval. In the second half Brentwood started to out play Stevenage who had worked so hard in the first half and were showing signs of tiredness. The league leaders had three substitutes to Stevenage’s none and this was really showing. Paul Graves, James Hamilton and Stevie Hamid were making some crucial tackles and when needed keeper Dan Dove did his best to keep the home side at bay. It was inevitable more goals would be conceded by Stevenage and it was soon 4-1 however the goal seemed harsh as in the build up there was clearly a foul on Graves. To the credit of a battered Stevenage they never gave up and Scott Davies almost set up Blackburn with another goal but his effort went wide before Bailey Dingley and Dan Farnan almost combined but to no avail. To make matters worse Gary Brown was harshly sin binned which put his team down to 10 and of course Brentwood capitalised on the advantage of the extra man. It was soon to be 5 then 6-1 as Brentwood continued to punish their opponents. Brown scored to make it 6-2 on his return to the field after a good ball from Jon Oliver but late on Brentwood finished the scoring to make the final score 7-2.
L3s 10 - Luton 3s 1
Stevenage Ladies 3s arrived at Luton in high hopes on Saturday facing the bottom league side, but the first half showed that the Luton youngsters were more than capable of playing good hockey and of scoring against our experienced side. 15 minutes into the game Hannah Wier opened the score line with a great clean shot from the top of the circle which was quickly followed by two quick fire on target shots from Nicki Reynolds, which put the visitors ahead, but then Luton took Stevenage by surprise and broke away and managed to get past the Stevenage defence and startled our tenacious goalie Vicky Myers not long before the half time whistle. With none of the team happy with their current performance and a strong half time talk.
The visitors got it together in the second half, now playing their game and dictating the play, Andrea Weston, Clare Swarbrick, Liz Westcott and Claude Strickland stood fast as our defensive line and distributed the ball straight back out of any danger and the Luton side now very much under pressure from the persistent Stevenage mid-fielders Gemma Roake, Hannah Weir and Leanne Bailey. Forward Emma Cockman scoring early in the first few minutes of the second half rallied the team to push forward, this quickly followed by 2 calmly struck goals from Michelle.
Great patience and determination in getting the ball steadily up the pitch and building the pace gave the left and right forwards Emma Houlihan and Holly O’Connor opportunities to get the ball to Nicki Reynolds in the D, who would one after the other to strike a further 5 goals past the keeper. The team very happy with their 10-1 win and second half performance.
M5 0 - West Herts 6s 7
After last weeks deserved triumph, the 5s struggled this week with an extremely well organised and experienced opposition. Despite some daring attacks and some great individual performances, Stevenage were outclassed and outplayed. The 5s will be enjoying a well-earned break next weekend, before carrying on their struggle from the grasp of the relegation zone.
L1 0 - Old Loughtonians 5
L4 1 - Shefford 4
L5 0 - Berkhamsted 2
M2 lost 7-1 to West Herts the consolation coming from Thomas Woolley
M3 won 4-2 against Letchworth with goals from Ben Oliver (2), Niall Anderson and Ian Jackson
M4 lost 8-4 to Harpenden with Ian Brown scoring 2 of the goals
M6 lost 3-1 to Southgate Adelaide with Lee Cope scoring the goal.