Stevenage Ladies Hockey Five Star performance:
All five of the Stevenage Ladies Hockey teams enjoyed a winning score line this Saturday. This is the first time club members can remember all five teams to achieve success on the same day.
The Ladies 2's led the winning streak at Nobel in the first game of the day with their convincing win against Aylesbury 2's. The 4-0 score adds another three points to their league tally putting them in an early strong league position. Goals scored by Harriet Richards (2) Jules Rhodes & Alfie Gunther.
Following the success at home from the L2's, the L3's also secured a 4-1 win v Broxbourne 4's. Kicking off the scoring flurry was Jo Howlett with a precision penalty flick. Nicki Reynolds put two past the keeper and Emma Cockman slammed a corker from the top of the circle.
Inspired by the 2's and 3's success, the L1s enjoyed a 5-0 win against Haverhill 1's at home. An important three points secured from the team they were in the relegation scrap with last season. Goals scored by captain Claire Young (2) Theresa Luciani, Lucy Harvey and man of the match Steph Oliver.
L4s kicked off their league debut away to Potters Bar 3's also with a 4-1 win. Goals from Claire Weston, Genna Telfer and mother and daughter combo Maggie & Holly O'Connor
L5s also away played Royston 4s. With a 3-1 win, finalising the clean flush from all the ladies teams. Scorers were Suzie Strange, Kate G and Sarah Hoar.
M1 5 - Bishops Stortford 2s 1 (Brown (G) 2, Holt, Blackburn, OG)
Jon Oliver was hoping his side would carry on from their 7-1 win at Broxbourne last week against Bishop Stortford on Saturday.
This season has a new look to it with newcomers Hayden Jenkins, Rob Hammond, Dave Griffiths and the returning Zac Shaw adding quality to Oliver's side.
For Saturday's match Head Coach, Roger Barlow, had 14 players available and the rotation system was paying dividends with Stevenage looking fresh and full of promise. After controlling the early play, Stevenage looked the more likely to score, and after a great interception from the impressive Jenkins, Stevenage broke, Laurie Brown then crossed to Blackburn, whose effort was brilliantly deflected home by the pacey Ollie Holt to give Stevenage a 1-0 lead.
In the middle of the park Hammond and Gary Brown were in total control for the home side and this proved vital all afternoon, as Stevenage continued to press for more goals. Before too long it was 2-0, when, after good work from Shaw and Ben DeLaune, the ball got to Blackburn, whose flick on found Gary Brown who was as reliable as ever with a cool finish. Within a minute it was 3-0. Jon Oliver put Dan Farnan through and his pressure forced the Stortford keeper to kick in to his own net. Stortford did create chances of their own and Dan Dove was forced in to some good stops from the young and speedy Stortford forward line. Near the end of the first half Dove made an impressive triple save before Chris Strickland cleared off the goal line. The first half was a pleasing one for the coach and the skipper as Stevenage had played some silky fast moving hockey.
The second half started pretty much as the first had ended, with Stevenage piling on pressure from the start. Laurie Brown, DeLaune and Hammond were busy in the midfield with Jenkins and Griffiths supporting down the flanks, causing problems for the Stortford side. The pace of Shaw and Farnan was crucial in the fourth goal, as a quick pass to Zac Shaw set him on a run, his cross from the by-line found Blackburn who fired home into the bottom left corner for a well worked 4-0 lead.
A bit of complacency then crept in, as the home side started to run the ball too much, and a mistake while running out of defence resulted in Stortford winning a penalty corner, from which their young forward hit home with composure to make it 4-1. This gave Stortford some hope and Dove made two quality saves within minutes of the goal. Matt Oliver and Strickland also had to be alert and made several good challenges.
Jon Oliver soon rallied his troops and they started to pass the ball around as they had in the first period. Strickland, Matt Oliver and Jenkins were dishing the ball around, perfectly biding their time, before offloading to the midfield and forwards to create more attacks. Stortford were looking tired as they chased the ball down and when Holt won another short corner up stepped Gary Brown to rifle home a thunderous drive for Stevenage's fifth goal of the day. There should probably have been more goals but the Stortford keeper had made some tremendous stops to deny Oliver's army. The Stevenage side were now in full flow enjoying every pass and playing with confidence late on Shaw hit the post after good work from Hammond, the rebound fell to Laurie Brown whose effort was well stopped.
Final whistle blew leaving Stevenage leading the table at the early stages of which looks to be a very promising season.
M2 5 - Bishops Stortford 3s 7 (Davies, Gardner, Wheeler, Larry 2)
A real roller coaster of a game. Another week and three new players to fit into the team, including Michael Tyler who was tasked with increasing our goal tally (just 3 in the last 3 games). In the opening 30 minutes he had a chance to do just that but it was well saved. Stevenage's full flowing play had Bishop Stortford on the back foot for the first 5 minutes, but the play slowly turned and they started to exploit the spaces with simple short 1-2 passes and stickers with deadly finishes.
After 25 minutes Stevenage were 4-0 down and many teams would have let their heads drop and try to shore up the defence to keep the score down. But we kept playing and it was around this time that the skipper, on a sprint back to defend, felt his hamstring pull and subbed himself off. Soon after Andy Davies received a square pass from James Hamilton, battled through a few players and tried to slip the ball under the on-rushing keeper. The keeper saved, but Andy was too quick, dragging the ball from under the keeper and fired the it onto the back board. This was swiftly followed up by the other two Andys combining at a short corner for a lovely flicked finish.
Having missed an open goal, Richard Hamilton quickly made up for it by scoring off the defenders foot after some silky build up play by the team just as the captain had asked for with 3 or 4 players in build up with quick short passes. Suddenly Half time was looking brighter and just a goal behind there was lots of positivity.
The second half started with Bishops Stortford trying to make up for letting a four goal lead slip. Stortford's next goal was controversial in the eyes of the Stevenage players and the discipline slipped. Stortford followed soon after with two more and re-built their 4 goal lead. But once more Stevenage refused to be bowed and kept playing and battling for every ball. A trade-mark strike from Andy Blaxill was met by the stick of Richard Hamilton; the ball looped beautifully high enough for the keeper only to watch it over his head and then, as time slowed, the ball dropped just below the cross bar.
Shortly after, a blazing run from Harry Wheeler, having twice lost the ball already, cheekily beat the keeper at his near post. Bishops Stortford were worried, but saved 5 minutes later by the final whistle. Despite a very tight vote and a green card for "having a chat about football" with the umpire, Richard Hamilton won Man of the Match From Harry, Andy Davies and Zammo, who pulled off many excellent saves to keep Stevenage in the game.
M3s 3 - Potters Bar 2s 1 (K. Robbins, R. Barlow, T. Woolley)
M4s 1 - Potters Bar 3s 4 (I. Brown)
M5s 5 - Letchworth 6s 1 (D. Harris (3), L. Cope, N. Hall)
What an afternoon. 5pm PB at Letchworth was a no-no for a number of players, and others being taken for higher teams left the 5s with a decimated side, filled in admirably by a number of new players. After a first half, when they were getting used to each other, Stevenage went deservedly ahead with a goal from Lee Cope. The team played some good passing movements and Dan Harris, playing for the first time dribbling his way through the Letchworth defence, scored a memorable hat trick either side of half time. Youngsters Matthew Spicer and David Scales played really well, with some good harrying, tackling and passing and feeding the forwards. Nigel Hall, solid in defence, went up for a short corner and completed the scoring, with a well taken goal. It was a game where everyone played a good part in it, with Dave Church playing brilliantly in goal only conceding the one goal from the home team. A big thanks to all who played, some at very short notice.
M6s 0 - Hertford 5s 2