Saturday 15th September 2012

L1 0 - Blueharts 4

So a new season begins with a local derby for Stevenage Ladies 1st XI.  With a few changes of players, as well as a change in the style of play, the ladies are still very much in the process of working out the kinks.  That said, the way in which the team played was extremely positive.  Keeping their heads high after going down 2-0 by half time it was by no means an easy game for rivals Blueharts.  Stevenage gave as good as they got, but couldn't find the goal.  The home side defended well, however were unable to to prevent two further goals from an opposition who seemed to score from Stevenage's mistakes, rather than them being the better team.  A lot of positives to take with them through the season.

M1 2 - Bedford 2s 3
Scorers: Danny Blackburn, Graham Swinyard

Stevenage under new Skipper Jon Oliver started their league campaign on Saturday away at league favourites Bedford II’s.  Oliver took an under strength side to Bedford but to their credit the players such as James Hamilton, Andy Gardner, Chris Perry and Ryall Schwartz stepped up and all had solid games.
Bedford, as expected, took the game to the visitors and had the best of the early possession.  Paul Graves and Matt Oliver were making some decisive challenges to help protect Tim Dingley’s goal, and the keeper pulled off some good stops to keep the score level.
In the first period Stevenage were restricted to their own half and were given little opportunity to attack, on the rare occasion they did Blackburn was isolated and outnumbered by Bedford defenders who were very well organised.  Richard "Larry" Hamilton was with the help of Jon Oliver trying to get a grip on the midfield which eventually was beginning to work.  Stevenage’s gallant defending was unable to prevent Bedford taking the lead just before half time when a well taken flick from the edge of the area beat a stunned Dingley.
In the second half Stevenage came out fighting and good work from Schwartz and  Graves almost gave Larry an opening, but the defence were sharp and cut out the dangerous ball.  It was soon to be 2-0 when another Bedford move over-powered the visitors and was finished with a nice strike.  Stevenage still battled hard and were very unlucky to go 3 down when a shot fired back off the crossbar after a good deflective save from Dingley and landed in the path of the waiting Bedford forward who just had to tap the ball in to an empty net.  Jon Oliver rallied his troops and soon after James Hamilton crossed for Danny Blackburn to lob the ball over the advancing keeper to make it 3-1.  This seemed to encourage the Stevenage side and Ben De Laune then set Graham Swinyard on his way, who in acres of space fired the ball past a stranded keeper with the help of a cruel deflection to make it 3-2.  In the final minutes Stevenage pushed forward but to no avail making the final score 3-2 to an impressive Bedford side.

M5 0-6 Luton 4s

The newly promoted 5s failed to make an auspicious entry into league 8SW, losing 6-0 at home to Luton 4s. A 60% change of players since last season's winning run has left the team somewhat weakened, and the lack of team experience was no match for the impressive scoring antics from Luton. However, it wasn't all bad; there were occasional glimpses of potential, and the usual early season reshuffles should eventually provide the team with some consistency once the whole club gets into winter mode.

M6 1 - Winchmore Hill & Enfield 5
Scorer: Tom Wharon

For the first match of the season not too bad a result.  We were 3-0 down at half time and worked hard throughout the match, with some excellent work from our two new team members.  We battled hard and Tom Wharton eventually put one past their keeper, but in the end we suffered a 5-1 defeat against a strong Winchmore Hill & Enfield team.

Saturday 22nd September 2012

L1 4 - 2 Haverhill 1s 2

Stevenage ladies faced newly promoted Haverhill on Saturday and had a lot to prove after their defeat last week. Stevenage attacked hard and fast and it wasn't long before the skills of Lucy Harvey won them a penalty corner. A superb strike from Jude Weston hit the tip of the backboard but the umpires ruled it was too high! This decision didn't put Stevenage ladies off and they soon went 1-0 up after a strong shot from Nat Davis. Haverhill had a few quick players who managed to get through the strong Stevenage defence to score twice but even being undeservedly 2-1 down Stevenage kept on pushing forward as a unit and after short sharp passes throughout the team a good ball from new team member theresa luciani set up Steph Oliver who fired the ball straight past the opposition defence and keeper.

Stevenage ladies played some great hockey ad after commanding the game from the centre Claire young also scored a fantastic drag flick, it would seem all her practice has paid off! The Stevenage defence, which consisted of Jo Howlett, Jess day, Jo Biggs, Emma Sutton and Nicky Brackley, worked so solidly it left Nat leach in goal feeling confident in those in front of her. After strong defending from hilary degg, Jude Weston drove the ball from our defensive D and made a great run down the right more or less the length of the pitch, to slip it to Caz Ayles who aimed for Hannah collard on the far post for her to select the ball past the haverhill keeper. A very much deserved and well earned 4-2 win for the Stevenage ladies.


M5 1 - Potters Bar 3s 5


A tricky fixture against an experienced Potters Bar side, starting with a bare eleven players, only four of which were part of last year's league-winning team. Stevenage surprised themselves by dominating the game for the first ten minutes before losing their shape somewhat, and conceding three goals before half-time. With renewed confidence, the visitors rallied in the second half, putting constant pressure on Bar's defence, until a pinpoint accurate cross from new player Ganesh Sivasothy was slotted in by captain Dave Wells. Stevenage weren't quite able to finish the follow-up attacks, and conceded two more goals from the home side. Despite the goal difference, a very encouraging match, with glimpses of the new team's potential.


M6 2 - West Herts 3


We started reasonably well but with a team that haven't played together it was a bit disjointed they managed to put 2 goal past us in the first half but towards the end we had settled down and were playing much better and had several chances but with no goal. The second half we started better with some good runs and a goal from Dan Farnan, they in turn scored again 5 mins after, we kept them out with good all round effort and then with some amazing stick work and a reverse stick shot Zammo brought us to 3-2 we kept the pressure on and West Herts had to resort to some all out defending to keep us out.

Saturday 29th September 2012

M1 1 - Blueharts 2s 6

Stevenage men suffered a humiliating 6-1 derby defeat to local rivals Blueharts 2’s on Saturday.  The season has not started well for Jon Oliver’s men with three defeats in a row which leaves the side bottom of the table.

In this match however the first ten minutes looked promising with Stevenage attacking their hosts and creating a couple of openings which on another day with a bit of luck may have resulted in a couple of goals also. The first quarter of the game was the good part for Stevenage because from then on Blueharts took total control and dominated their opponents with quick passing and movement. Blueharts took the lead on 13 minutes when a good flowing move resulted in a well executed finish. It was soon 2-0 this time a quick one two past the last defender and finishing with accuracy by rounding Dingley who had no real chance of preventing the goal. Stevenage were defending at maximum with Graves and man of match Roger Tufty Barlow making some timely challenges to keep the Harts out.

After the break Blueharts continued to apply the pressure and before long it was 3-0 this time an own goal by keeper Dingley who was unlucky as the ball was hit in outside the area and his vision was blinded as the ball struck him and flew in. Then a fourth from a penalty corner which again deflected harshly in. Ollie Holt then broke down the right after a great ball from Jon Oliver and slipped the ball to Blackburn whose effort was illegally stopped on the goal line to win a penalty stroke. This time Gary Brown stepped up to take but for the sixth time in a row a Stevenage player failed to convert leaving the score at 4-0. Blueharts added a fifth again by over running the away midfield and leaving the defence no chance of stopping them. James Hamilton then set Swinyard on his way whose superb pass found Bailey Dingley but his effort just went wide of the goal. Blueharts made it 6-0 late on before in the dying minutes Holt crossed for Danny Blackburn to make it 6-1 with a nice finish. With players still to return skipper Oliver remains confident the season will still be turned around.


L1 1 - Crostyx 2s 0

After last weeks win Stevenage were looking for a repeat performance against Crostyx 2’s. The home team started well, attacking from the off. The first half saw numerous saved attempts and a disallowed goal from Jo Howlett. This theme continued in the second half as frustratingly Stevenage could not hit the back board and Crostyx began their attack. A shot from the away team was deflected by Nicky George to hit the cross bar and cleared off the line by the keeper, Natalie Leach. Stevenage continued their attack with some great runs up the right hand side of the pitch by “Man of the Match” Jude Weston, with several balls crossing the D or shots just going wide. The goal eventually came 3 minutes from the end when Nat Davies stopped the ball at the top of the circle for Claire Young to run in and finish with a solid strike at goal. Stevenage continued to fight as a whole team hoping to get another and fully deserved these 3 points.


L2 1 - Leighton Buzzard 2s 5

The dice was loaded from the start as only seven members of Stevenage L2's made it to the Leighton Buzzard pitch on time. The 'magnificent seven' fought valiantly, limiting the damage to a three goal deficit by the time reinforcements arrived, having battled through traffic gridlock. Red spirits were lifted as within 30 seconds of the team reaching full strength, Theresa Luciani set Alfie Gunther up to pull one back.
Leighton were a well schooled side and it took an understandably out of sorts Stevenage side time to settle into the remainder of the game. This season's young rookie Vicki Marquiss did a fabulous job of harrying the Leighton mid field, displaying great promise for the future, whilst Player of the Match was well deserved by keeper Lisa Pickard who honed her ground strokes, fighting off frequent skirmishes in the D. The final score of 5-1 was a disappointing start to the season for the reds but next Saturday is another game with hopefully, a less troublesome journey.


M5 0 - Bishops Stortford 6s 3

A spirited performance from the fledgling 5s team, showing yet more improvement on previous games this season.
Stevenage dominated three quarters of the match causing constant problems for the experienced Stortford side, but sadly failed to score. Just before half-time, Ganesh Sivasothy was prevented from scoring by an opponent's stick in the eye, ending his game with a visit to hospital, and after Alex Day was also injured, Stevenage were down to 10 men for a significant period before Alex heroically returned to the game. If the 5s can continue on this curve of improvement without further injuries, they should be due their first win in a couple of weeks, then start moving up the league table...


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