28th September 2013

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

21st September 2013

L1s 1 - Hertford 1s 2 (C. Young)

The Ladies 1s lost in a tight match against Hertford 1s.  Stevenage fought hard after conceding an early goal, battling to equal the score.  After many wasted opportunities from penalty corner routines that were not being pulled off, Claire Young managed to put one past the keeper with a drag flick from a changed penalty corner routine.

Hertford went ahead in the second half after a fracas between some questionable decisions from the umpire, awarding a Hertford goal after watching the ball hit the players foot prior to scoring, resulting in frustration and a yellow card for the Stevenage defence.  The goal was eventually disallowed after much discussion between umpires, however shortly after, another decision proved too much for Stevenage as a penalty flick was awarded and scored by Hertford.  Final score 2-1.  Stevenage will be looking to rectify this result on the return fixture.

L2s 2 - Saffron Walden 3s 1 (B. McGrellis, D. Church)

After a couple of barnstorming pre-season friendlies, the reds opened their 2013/14 league campaign with a home fixture against newly promoted Saffron Walden 3’s. Reader, I would love to entertain you with tales of ‘daring do’, but sadly first league match jitters threatened to cripple the home side. Despair not though, there were some highlights to lift the spirits and the story does have a happy ending.

Stevenage made a convincing start, with much of the play in Walden’s half and the visiting defence under pressure. Some great opportunities came out from the midfield but for much of the first half the Stevenage front line couldn't quite connect up and do the business. It was down to Captain Becs McGrellis to set an example – an excellent drive down the right from Michelle Sheldon, a cheeky cut in to Debbi Church who, reacting to a primeval scream from her captain floated the ball into the D for McGrellis to calmly take round the sliding keeper and slot home. Whilst one up at the half time whistle, the team’s performance left the coach scratching her head and wondering where the sparkling team from last week had gone.

The 2nd half did not start well – In the early minutes a momentary lapse of concentration (code for ‘bit of a balls up’) gifted the visitors an easy equaliser. Stevenage’s woes were added to when Debutante Georgie Makin stopped an errant ball with her head; happily she proved a tough nut to crack and was back on the field after a few minutes under the ice cap. From then on the match was ground out - Stevenage never looked at risk of conceding another goal but equally there didn’t appear much hope of scoring one either.

Keeper Dingley kept the reds out of trouble with some great boots and a particularly ‘natty’ glance at full stretch to divert a goal bound strike. Work rate in the midfield was encouraging – Jules Rhodes harassed anything that moved, Zoe Zeliku employed a particularly effective bull-dozing technique and Harriet Richards repeatedly sprang from nowhere, frustrating the opposition with some audacious steals. But still, the elusive goal wouldn't come.

An amazing short corner routine nearly came off – injection received by Jules Rhodes, a lofted strike aimed just wide of the left post and a cheeky cricket strike by Riana Smit thwacked the back board…shame about the shin pad glance mid routine. The clock was ticking down…

With scant minutes to go Player of the Match Becs McGrellis found Debbi Church in the D, a straight pass which the energy efficient (code for ‘knackered’) veteran converted with a reverse nutmeg.

Not pretty but job done. Next week the reds entertain Aylesbury at home.

L3s 0 - Letchworth 3s 3

L4s 1 - Letchworth 4s 2 (C. Weston (WOTM))

L5s Cancelled

M1s 7 - Broxbourne 2s 1 (G. Brown (5), Z. Shaw, H. Jenkins (MOM))

M2s 1 - Harpenden 3s 4 (A. Gardner)

Harpenden arrived at Stevenage expecting to carry on from their dominant performance two weeks earlier however they met a very different team who were much more disciplined. For the first 20 minutes the team maintained a good structure and kept Harpenden at bay, but it was clear from early encounters this was going to be a physical game, with our forward line getting “moved” off the ball.

Stevenage had their opportunities however from a Harpenden short corner Jack Dingley made the initial good save, but the follow up strike was at Terry Salisbury's stomach on the goal line; he got his stick there but not enough to keep it out. The dominance of the game swung back and forth, with Stevenage playing some lovely linking hockey and dishing the ball. Unfortunately Stevenage got hit with a counter attack late in the first half and a hard shot in got an “interesting” deflection at the near post, which surprised their player as much as our GK. 2-0 at half time and all felt the game was still there to be had.

The second half was much the same as the first, with periods of good play from both sides. The home side worked with the new structure with varied success. The visitors' third came from a short corner, beating the keeper and the man on the post – who redeemed himself 5 minutes later in a repeat situation where the goal was saved off the line. Stevenage got one back from a nicely worked short corner; Andy Blaxill slipped the ball to Andy Gardner who flicked into the net and Stevenage raised their game. But as tiredness crept in, long balls got hit, the play broke down and so did our discipline; Andy Blaxill got a yellow card for disagreeing with the umpire. Stevenage upped their game and held out with 10 Men. Toward the end of the game tiredness took over and Stevenage let in a sloppy goal that ended the match. Considering the performance of a fortnight ago there has been an improvement, which was acknowledged by the opponents.

M3s 1 - St Albans 4s 4 (I. Jackson)

M4s 0 - St Albans 7s 3

M5s No Fixture

M6s 2 - Broxbourne 5s 4 (C. Matthews, C. Court)

14th September 2013

L1s 2 - Bedford 2s 2 (Siddall, Luciani)

Stevenage Ladies 1st XI set out on a huge task Saturday, playing a friendly against Bedford. Recently drafted into the East League, Bedford 2s are placed in the adjacent division to Stevenage, however on paper looked to be the much stronger team.  

The newly selected Stevenage team faced the challenge head on and after a shaky first 10 minutes were soon matching Bedford in skill and strength. With about 20 minutes played, Stevenage suddenly had a break through into the Bedford circle, and Hilary Siddall, after being denied her first shot from an advancing goalkeeper, picked the rebound up mid-air and batted it around the keeper into the back of the net. Bedford responded quickly and the Stevenage defence battled hard to keep the ball away. Bedford were able to equalise from a short corner shortly before half time, bringing the score to 1-1.

The second half was as fuelled as the first with neither team relenting. With increasing pressure by Bedford, the Stevenage girls responded by starting to build play, and were able to break from Kate Mouncey, feeding a ball into Theresa Luciani who put away Stevenage's second goal. The battle continued and in the last five minutes of the game Stevenage conceded a short corner, cleared superbly off a Bedford foot and an unfortunate error awarding another short corner resulted in Bedford equalising again. 

The remainder of the match was as exciting as the start but neither team could convert any of their chances. Score ended 2-2, a great result for a team that is building into a promising season.

L2s 4 - Hertford 2s 1 (Jules (3), Gunther)

L3s 1 - Hertford 3s 3 (Reynolds)

L4s 4 - Hertford 4s 2 (Howlett, Weston, Ward, Telfer)

L5s 3 - Letchworth 5s 1 (Strange, Binge, Hoar)

First game for the ladies 5s away against letchworth 5s.  A slow start to the match with a disapointing 1-0 to letchworth by half time.  With a few words of encouragement from the captain Laura May at half time the ladies went into the second half with a winning attitude.  Lots of fantastic passing and use of the whole pitch to take the ball into the oppositions half for alot of the second half with 3 goals scored in quick succession from Suzie Strange, Hayley Binge and Sarah Hoar.  Letchwoth played well with a new team this season and a very friendly attitude and warm welcome to their home.

M1s 4 - Hertford 1s 5 (Holt, Shaw, Blackburn, Hamilton R.)

M2 v Hertford 2s 1-3 (A. Davies)

The 2's captain, Geoff Trew, returned from galavanting on the Isle of Wight to a 50 % change in the team that played the week before. The captain stressed that as a pre-season friendly the result was not important but the style in which we played and the attitude of the players most certainly was. On that note the team performed brilliantly, understanding the concepts and maintainig the structure requested.

In the first half Hertford could not break Stevenage down whilst they were organised, but 3 mistakes were punished when the structure was not set. But Hertford did not have it all their own way, and Stevenage had some good chances; the best move of the half led to a cross for the captain, free at the top of the D. Needless to say Geoff lived up to his nickname (Jigsaw) and the chance was gone.

The second half started positively and for long periods Stevenage were in control and again should have added to the score board.  There was great play all round, especially from the youngsters, with man of the match David Spicer and Harry Wheeler terrorising the left and right wing. Stevenage finally got a goal after the ball pinged about the D and Andy Davies put the ball across the line. In the last 10 minutes fitness told on both sides and the game was stretched, with multiple opportunities on both sides, but neither side could add to the score line. The re-matches in the league will surely be similarly closely contested games.

M3s 4 - Letchworth 3s 3 (Brendish, Wilcock, Anderson)

M4s 1 - Hertford 3s 5 (Brown I.)

M5s 1 - Hertford 4s 3 (Hall)

M6s 2 - Hertford 5s 4 (Farnan, Matthews)

A good hard fought performance all round and a more even game than the score line depicted at 4-2 our goals being scored by Dan Farnan and Callum Matthews.


7th September 2013

M2 v Harpenden 1-4 (T.Woolley)

With no captain for the first game of the season, a new structure and new players, this was always going to be a tough game to open the season with. The game started well but as Harpenden pressed, Stevenage found it hard to get out of their own half. With the goal peppered, man of the match Jack Dingley and the defence did a great job to only let in four, including saving a penalty flick. Stevenage's goal came from a a break down ball that got passed quickly up field to Tom Wharton, who slipped the ball to Tom Woolley who then beat the 'keeper.

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