Witham M1 0 Stevenage M1 5
Newly promoted Stevenage opened their league campaign a convincing 5-0 win at Witham; although the home side started well and had most of the possession they created few chances. Skipper John Mould set his formation for a counter attack style of play, breaking at pace, and the plan worked well.
Witham had a good opportunity to go ahead on ten minutes however and keeper Tim Dingley, on his way to a rare clean sheet, made a fine save. The visitors then created chances on the break, with both Blackburn and Oliver seeing shots well saved by the home keeper, before they took the lead when Ben Oliver crossed for Gary Brown to fire home.
Stevenage then won a series of penalty corners: first John Mould saw his drag flick hit the bar before Andy Blaxill forced the keeper in to a terrific save. Dutchman Michael Van Roojgen was causing problems with some amazing aerial passes for Blackburn, Brown and the Olivers to chase. One of these lead to a penalty corner from which Stevenage would extend their lead - Blaxill's fearsome strike rebounded to Danny Blackburn who flicked the ball home. Witham still had most the possession and late in the half forced good saves from Dingley and a goalline clearance from Chris Nichol.
Witham pushed forward for a goal early in the second half and this was ideal for Stevenage's counter attacking plans. Graham Swinyard intercepted a wayward pass in midfield and put Matt Oliver through and his effort was parried away by the Witham keeper. Then it was Mike Oliver's turn to get on the scoresheet when after good harassment from the forward line Oliver pounced on a defensive error to make it 3-0.
To their credit Witham were still passing well in what by now was a very open game, and won a series of penalty corners which were defended brilliantly by Matt Oliver, Blaxill, Nichol and Mould, before a fine individual effort by Ben Oliver ended when he roofed the net from the edge of the area to make it 4-0.
Witham's possession probably deserved a goal but the visitors were resilient and held every attack at bay. It was now end to end stuff in a contest that was pretty much over even before Swinyard found Van Roojgen who went round a defender to complete the scoring for the afternoon.
Skipper John Mould couldn't have had a better start to this campaign and next week Stevenage entertain their fellow promoted side Bedford at Nobel in what will be a much tougher game.
Stevenage M2 3 Harpenden M3 4
M2 started their league season with a fast, hard game against Harpenden 3s and took the early advantage with a well timed shot from Olly Holt, after some good build up play. Despite the home side having the lion's share of the pressure, Harpenden achieved a penalty corner after a ball ricocheted up off captain James Hamilton's stick. This was charged down, again by the skipper, but the resulting play led to another short, which the visitors hit home.
Unpeturbed by this, Stevenage again went on the attack and penalty corner worked well by Ryall Swartz and John Oliver led to an Olly Holt drag flick into the mid-right of the goal. 2-1 and Stevenage sensed a win was on the cards. Unfortunately fate wasn't going to allow it all Stevenage's way and they lost Geoff Trew when he was hit under the eye by the ball. Harpenden took advantage, converting another short corner to make it 2-2 before the break.
The third Harpenden goal could have completely sunk Stevenage but some good build up play at the other end made sure the Reds had the bit back between the teeth. A good Callum Mathews cross into the opposition circle allowed Niall Anderson to pounce for an equaliser. A tight finish saw Harpenden nick a goal, ending the hopes of the home side getting even a point out of a thrilling encounter.
Could it be a Stevenage/Harpenden 1-2 at the end of the season? 21 games will tell.
Winchmore Hill & Enfield M2 3 Stevenage M3 6
A disciplined team performance enabled newly promoted Stevenage to record an opening day away win after taking an early lead with a short corner converted by Nick Crocker, followed up quickly with a goal from Harp Mann. In contrast lack of discipline from the home team caused them go down we down to 10 men and the visitors took full advanagte with Mann’s second of the day just before half time.
The team started off the second half in the same vein with Nick Crocker scoring from another penalty corner but the home side rallied and put Stevenage under pressure, pulling a goal back. However a brace from Khalid Mehmood put the result beyond doubt taking the score to 6-1. The home side finished stronger with 2 consolation goals to give a final scoreline which flattered them slightly.
Stevenage M4 3 Broxbourne M5 1
Having gone a goal behind the home side produced a great team performance to open the season with maximum points. Kevin Fisher equalised before half-time, and Bailey Dingley and Ian Brown added goals after the break
Bedford M5 3 Stevenage M5 1
The 5’s played magnificently on Saturday, despite being a man down and no subs, against a reasonably good Bedford side – the result is probably an unfair representation of a game where we had most of the possession and plenty of opportunities which we just couldn’t quite capitalise on, including a disallowed goal. I was very impressed by the three new lads (who had never played a match before) who we played up front; what they lacked in stick skills they made up with positioning and assertiveness (it was Mayson Tewkesbury who scored, although the other two came frustratingly close on several occasions) – given a few weeks training and I think they’ll go far.
Disappointing that the score wasn’t the reverse, but a great start given the constraints, and this week we should find it easier to fill the team (if we don’t lose too many players…).
Stevenage M6 0 Bedford Vets 12
Dave Wooley's first game in charge of any team saw him match an inexperienced group who had never played together against a very experienced team that clearly had, with quite predictable consequences. Bags of promise, loads of heart and plenty for The Big Bopper to work on whatever impression the scoresheet might give.
Blueharts L1 2 Stevenage L1 0
In their second league game of the season, Stevenage Ladies came out strong with good possession in the first half. Despite this, Stevenage weren’t quick enough to defend a lucky break from Bluehart’s attack, as they scored an important early first goal.
Stevenage fought back with steady breaks led by Carly Seaton and Jude Weston, but despite attempts from Lucy Harvey and Kate Murray, failed to score.
During the second half, Blueharts continued to attack well as Stevenage began to dwindle. Then an unlucky attempt from Stevenage to defend a high ball from the top of the circle gave Blueharts a decisive second goal.
Stevenage L2 2 Luton L2 0
With a very different line up compared to last season, Jo Thorpe's 'new' team are settling in together very well and the youngsters are showing great promise. One of the 'old' team, Debbi Church, scored both goals in a very encouraging start to the league campaign.
Stevenage L3 1 Broxbourne L4 2
A very enjoyable game just edged by the visitors with Tamlynn Bagnall scoring for Stevenage in her last game for the Club.
Stevenage L4 1 Luton L3 0
Skipper Emma Houlihan grabbed the goal that took all 3 points.
Vauxhall Chiltern L3 3 Stevenage L5 0 (Friendly)