Southend M1 - 7 Stevenage M1 - 2
M1 took a much weakened side to Southend on Saturday with several key players missing and the early stages of the match didn't bode well for the visitors as Southend piled pressure on the visitor's goal. The Stevenage defence was soon making some invaluable challenges but in the end the onslaught from the home team was too much with four home goals coming in quick succession and Stevenage already out of the match. Late on in the first half the visitors did create a few chances with Blaxill coming close from a penalty corner before John Mould crossed for Gary Brown to hit just wide.
In the second half Stevenage started to get more in to the game and gave the home side more of a match - which after their first half display wasn't too difficult - there were early chances for Van Roojgen and Ben Oliver.
Southend were still creating many of their own opportunities and demanding some fine saves from Tim Dingley as well as requiring Matt Oliver to deflect a goal bound effort on to his post to prevent the goal. Mould gave Danny Blackburn a great pass and he set up Ben Oliver to fire home and make the scoreline 4-1. Southend replied within a minute to make it 5-1 when another flowing attack resulted in a well taken goal which was undefendable.
Van Roojgen was then sin-binned for verbal abuse before Danny Blackburn pulled another goal back to make it 5-2 with a cool finish.
Southend had been the better side all afternoon but the visitors decided to push forward to try and get a bit of pride from this match. Blackburn had a good effort brilliantly saved and Brown tried to cut through the home teams defence but to no avail. Southend then won a penalty stroke when Dingley was adjudged to upend a forward in the area gave the keeper no chance from the spot.
At 6-2 the visitors continued to battle bravely to compete in a game they felt sure they could have won with a full strength side, but the home side added a seventh goal near the end. Next weekend Stevenage visit Vauxhall in Luton and skipper Mould is hopeful he can see the return of some key players to help secure the three points his team need.
Stevenage M2 - 6 Berkhamsted M2 - 2
M2 this week desperately wanted to convert their run of good play into goals - and they couldn't have hoped for much better than what ensued. A supremely in-form Olly Holt was set up nicely by an industrious Niall Anderson to open the Stevenage account. The next was an individual touch of brilliance from Holt. The Berkhamsted keeper chased Olly to the short corner mark and seemed certain to get the ball. Holt deftly lifted the ball over the prone keeper, then, whilst the ball was still moving from this manouvre, flicked the ball into the only bit of goal he could see. The next Stevenage goal could have been goal of the game if it weren't for the stunner that Holt had just produed. Berko had just smuggled a goal back of their own, so frustration was starting to kick in, since the previous two games had ended 4-3. Stevenage won a short corner which was pushed out by Anderson to James Hamilton at the top of the D. Time slowed as Hamilton turned the receive into a drag flick that was still rising as it hit the top left of the net. 3-1 half time with some happy faces all round.
The second half began with Berko trying to up the tempo and force through a resilient defence of Dave Church, Tim Wright, Terry Kingston, Tom Wharton and Geoff Trew. Instead the home side worked harder and repelled the attacks, which suited the counter-attacking formation set up by the captain. Mitch Snares, set up by some fine play by Chris Watson and Anderson, finished a great attack with aplomb. Having worked hard throughout the game, the midfield and defence chose to have a nap, allowing Berko to get a free run at goal, which Kingston was powerless to keep out, try as he might. So, to set this right, Wharton decided to take this opportunity to show the opposition how to score from defence.
Dan Farnan, having worked hard and not stopped running, scored the 6th goal for a Stevenage side on a high.
Bring on the inter-club game with the 3s next week!
Bishops Stortford M5 - 3 Stevenage M3 - 2
M3 found themselves two goals down at an early stage, after a slow start and the loss of influencial Nick Crocker after only 10 minutes, and ultimately this cost them the game. Harp Mann pulled one back only for Stortford to restore the two goal cushion shortly afterwards.
A much better second half performance saw Stevenage create lots of chances and hit the post before Mann scored his second late in the game.
Stevenage M4 - 3 Letchworth M5 - 2
The home side went two up through penalty corner conversions by Martin Swarbrick and young Bailey Dingley, before a deflection from skipper Simon Russell's foot and a fine Letchworth goal evened the scores. But another Dingley strike from a penalty corner put Stevenage back in control before half-time, and in the second half they soaked up the pressure well and finished stroongly to maintain their 100% record.
Rickmansworth M4 - 0 Stevenage M5 - 2
Young Zak Shaw scored both to give M5 their first points of the season.
Stevenage M6 - 2 Hertford M4 - 1
How's this for a line-up? Mould, Hamid, Hutchinson, Cornell, Woolley, Blaxill, Wharton (with Hamilton side-lined unfortunately)... could be good, but these were the fathers of the players you might like to have in your team, and supplemented by five men with half a dozen games between them in the past 8 years who needed a catch up on rule changes (no offf-side at all?).
A superb Man-of-the-Match perfomance by back-from-the-dead Richard Ellis assisted by a super human effort from the super human frame of James "I never thought I'd be so knackered" Wharton and a fine debut from keeper Pete Dixon, enabled M6 to take their first points of the season from a lively and competitive encounter on the beaches of JHN.
Paul Mould finished off a short corner to give the home side an early lead cancelled out by a hard-working, previously undefeated, Hertford before half-time. An entirely even, end-to-end second half was capped by excellent work from Kevin Wharton who won possession to set up Graham Nicholls for the winner and a tense last 10 minutes for Dave Woolley's men.
Hertford L1 - 2 Stevenage L1 - 2
The visitors started well with plenty of possession in good attacking positions and capitalised on this by winning a penalty stroke after 10 minutes: Carly Seaton converted by flicking into the roof of the net. After this the visitors stayed on top and missed a number of chances to increase their lead before Steph Fanthorpe, who had been making excellent breaking runs, scored from a penalty corner to give them a two goal half-time lead.
Without the luxory of a substitute Stevenage started to tire in the second half and could not hold out. Hertford reduced the arrears and, despite some good defensive tackles from Jo Howlett made some great saves from keeper Jen Harding, the home side were able to grab an equaliser near the end.
Shefford & Sandy L2 - 0 Stevenage L2 - 1
Despite a lack of availability across the ladies section, a gutsy performance from the ladies 2's joined by four players from lower teams bagged Stevenage a hard fought 1-0 win against Shefford & Sandy 2's, winners in both their games so far.
On paper this should have been mission impossible. Jess Day found herself the sole remaining 2's defender and regular forwards Alfie Gunther and Debbi Church were about to find out what real work was like in their new centre midfield positions. Despite the odds being stacked against them, this eclectic and out of position team miraculously gelled from the start, playing some beautifully supportive hockey that any regular team would be proud of. This resulted in a evenly matched first half, though the end result might have been very different had it not been for player of the match Lisa Pickard who brilliantly saved two penalty flicks - the 2nd as a consequence of midfielder Bex Church displaying absolute commitment to her temporary defence position by heading a goal bound shot over the cross bar.
Growing in confidence, Stevenage opted for an early attack sortie in the 2nd half with Debbi Church christening her new stick in the 4th minute. More chances came for the visitors with some great runs from Annabelle Reilly and Becky O'Conner resulting in a number of short corners which, had 2's Captain Jo "you really don't want to be standing in front of me when I strike" Thorpe not been away, may well have put the reds further in front. Having the advantage of substitutes, Shefford & Sandy piled on the pressure but were met with staunch defensive resistance from Claire Swarbrick and Emma Houlihan. With 15 minutes to go, the centre midfield were on their last legs but Stevenage resolutely dug deep into their reserves with younger midfielders Karen Meadows and Hannah Collard helping the old timers out by chasing down every loose ball. To Stevenage, the final whistle sounded like an all clear siren and was met with a thoroughly deserved victorious cheer.
St Albans L5 - 1 Stevenage L3 - 2
Ros Fewell and Holly Ashworth scored the goals that gave L3 a good away victory and their second win out of three games.
Stevenage L4 - 2 Chess Valley L2 - 1
Nikki Davies grabbed both goals to keep L4 undefeated this term.
Stevenage L5 - 0 Bedford L5 - 8
L5 clearly missing the defensive rock that is Anne Graves at present.