1st March 2014
Ladies 1 vs. Canterbury 3 - Stortford 3-1
Following the disappointment of defeat at the hands of Old Loughtonians in their last outing, Bishop's Stortford Ladies 1st XI returned to winning ways this weekend, with a 3-1 victory over Canterbury Ladies 3rd XI.
Stortford got off to a blistering start, threatening the Canterbury defence with wave after wave of attack and could have been a couple of goals up within the opening five minutes, only to see the ball flash across the face of the goal on each occasion. So it was a shock, on the ten minute mark, when the hosts found themselves 1-0 down. Canterbury counter-attacked, making their way into the Stortford semi-circle and won a short-corner, which was fired into the back of the net. Despite this setback, Stortford continued to press and create chances. Pippa Bull came closest to equalizing in the first half, only to see her effort crash off the post and bounce away to safety.
The second half began just as the first had and within 5 minutes of the restart, the home side were finally rewarded. Suzy Fletcher made her way along the visitors baseline into the semi-circle and won her team a short corner. A well worked routine saw the ball moved across the top of the 'D', with the resulting strike falling into the path of Anna Swan, who's quick reactions fired the ball over the goal-line. The goal gave Stortford the confidence that the game was theirs to take and with just under a quarter of an hour left, they broke through again. This time Fiona Nekeman was in the right place at the right time, to add enough of a deflection from a shot on goal to leave the Canterbury goalkeeper with no chance. Moments later, Nekeman broke free from her marker, as a through-ball was sent into the 'D'. Despite the visitor's keeper rushing out to intercept, Nekeman got there first with a deft reverse stick sweep, which found the goal for her second in as many minutes to make it 3-1. This proved to be enough of a cushion for Stortford, as they closed out the remainder of the match by retaining the majority of possession, to secure the victory and all three points.
Ladies 2 vs. Leighton Buzzard 1 - Stortford won 7-1
The match started a little slow but it was clear stortford had the upper hand. Fran Pettengell opened the scoring and Katy Motson made it two; converting a penalty flick given after a great strike by Emma Hynds was stopped on the line by a foot. Leighton Buzzard had created a few breakaway chances but were denied on all occasions by some textbook goalkeeping.
Stortford started much stronger in the second half and surged into a seven goal lead with two goals for Sarah Sturgeon, one for Hollie Laidlaw, another for Fran and one for Liv brookhouse. Leighton did not give up and scored from a short corner with two minutes remaining. Player of the match was shared by Paula Frenzel and Miranda Wilson
Ladies 3 vs. Stevenage 2 - Stortford lost 7-1
Ladies 4 vs West Herts 4 - Stortford lost 5-2
The Ladies 4’s took on our final away match of the season and after a good team talk we thought we were ready for a good win but unfortunately, West Herts took us by surprise and we struggled to sort out the problem of marking and picking up players and they scored 2 goals early on.
The second half we began strong and held possession of the ball well and played some simple passes which meant we dominated possession near their goal, and was always challenging their defence. A couple of misplaced passes and excellent pressure from West Herts meant they were still able to slip through our fingers and score twice more. At this point, we unleashed our fighting spirits and would not give up until we scored a goal. We were finally awarded a short corner and used our usual rehearsed routine, this time Clemmii Carr hitting the back of the net, a glorious sound. Empowered by this amazing goal, spirits lifted and we started to pass more quickly around the opposition. With time running out, we managed to get a free hit just outside the D and with a quick self-push, the ball soon found Limmer who had a shot on goal from an angle that seemed surely impossible, but clonk and it went in.
The final whistle blew and the score was West Herts 5 – Bishop’s Stortford 2
Even though we didn’t win, we were all rewarded a trip to McDonalds for essential team bonding time, with our player of the match Clemmii Carr.
Men's 1 vs. City of Peterborough 2 - Stortford drew 3-3
A fine Spring afternoon saw a good performance from the home side on the day, but it was not quite enough to secure the win that would have kept Stortford's league ambitions alive. Determined to avenge the mauling they had received in the corresponding away fixture, Stortford took the game to Peterborough from the off and built good early pressure. With Dan Leonard dominant in the centre of the park, Stortford carved open the Peterborough defence like a butterflied chicken and some searing runs from Vernon Brown brought a string of early corners. Unfortunately, the corner routine was not firing on as many cylinders as the open play and there was neither one clean opportunity for Tyler Deas to unleash his drag flick to any notable effect nor a sufficiently well-executed variation to trouble the Peterborough corner defence. Finally the deadlock was broken when Steve Abbott gave the ball an almighty smite and the ball was deflected into the Peterborough net. Stortford's initial celebrations were momentarily muted when just before the visitors pushed the ball back into play, the umpire had a moment of self-doubt and proceeded to consult his colleague. In the absence of any concrete reason not to award the goal, the original decision stood and Stortford took a deserved lead. Buoyed by the break through, Stortford were in the ascendancy and pressed hard for a second goal and notwithstanding some good goalkeeping and wasted opportunities, should have done so. However, it was Peterborough who scored next: penetrating for the first time the otherwise excellent defensive unit, a breakaway down the inside right channel created a vacuum that drew in defenders before the ball was crossed to a waiting striker who made no mistake from close range. At times in the last two seasons, this would have been the marker for Stortford to capitulate but on this occasion, it spurred the home side on to better hockey still. With the Peterborough defence breached yet again, a mazy run from Dan Leonard culminated in sending the keeper one way whilst placing a shot to the other. The keeper did well to readjust and got the faintest of touches, but this only served to deflect the ball just inside the post and Stortford were ahead again as half time arrived.
With Peterborough fortunate that their deficit was but a single goal, the second half saw them try to up their performance and establish themselves in the game. Initially, Stortford were their match but tired legs began to tell and the visitors managed to exert some pressure of their own. A couple of penalty corners were awarded and as the Peterborough attack drew a free hit just outside the circle following a well-defended corner, they had the presence of mind to play the ball quickly leaving Stortford's defence in disarray. With the Peterborough striker spoilt for choice with options on the penalty spot and near and far posts, he took a quick decision and unleashed a powerful reverse stick shot through David Butcher to equalize. Again, it seemed that Stortford had wasted their chance and again they came back hard. Breaking from the push back, a powerful ball from Vernon Brown ended up in the Peterborough goal and within 30 seconds Stortford were ahead again. Whether the Peterborough stick was a mere deflection that had minimal impact on Brown's shot or a significant touch that 'activated' his cross from outside the circle for an own goal rather depends on who you spoke to in the bar afterwards. But in the absence of a disputed goals committee, Stortford settles on the consensus view that it put Stortford back in front. Stortford defended this lead for some time, and went close to scoring the goal that would have put some daylight between them and Peterborough. Indeed, had there been a disputed goals committee, they might well have looked long and hard at the ball that Jon Taylor was convinced he had put the faintest of touches on before it crossed the Peterborough goal line. Certainly the umpire gave it some consideration although his reported conclusion to the quizzical spectators was that the deviation the ball took from its original path was more likely to be due to the impact of the wind. With around ten minutes to go, the Peterborough striker completed his hat-trick with another reverse stick effort; this time going for an elegant placement into the left hand corner. Both sides had chances to win it, but neither was able to convert and with the 'goal that never was' being countered by the goals that 'would have been' but for the two excellent goal-line clearances by Kyle Botha, on balance the draw was the right result.
Coach Marcano reflected that the game was a microcosm of the season: the team "played their best hockey of the year for long periods but didn't put the game beyond reach and then let them back in". Had Stortford played the majority of the season with the assured confidence of the first half, they would likely be in the hunt for promotion. The damage was done before Christmas and as it is, the failure to take all three points this weekend means that relegation is now all but a mathematical certainty.
Next week's trip to Harleston Magpies provides an opportunity to show what might have been!
Men's 2 vs. Bedford Town 3 - Stortford won 5-1
Stortford 2s took a step closer to avoiding potential relegation with a solid 5-1 over Bedford 3s.
Stortford, as per usual, started on the front foot, putting pressure on the Bedford goal from the off. Not long into the game it was 1-0 to Stortford, Darren Brown converting from a short corner. Shortly after, Richard Markham made a run into the D and his cross/come shot was deflected into the goal by the Bedford keeper. 2-0 and cruising? no... Bedford launched a rapid counter attack and made it 2-1 to put the nerves back into Stortford and it showed for the rest of the first half with the game on the balance. However just before half time a good move down the right and cross found Paul Tomlin alone in the D and he roofed his shot to make it 3-1 at half time.
The second half saw Stortford camp themselves in the Bedford half. But for all of the pressure, Stortford could not find a way through until Joe Symonds converted a penalty flick after Paul Tomlin was taken out by the keeper. The game continued in the same fashion, with Stortford missing chances on a regular basis. A 5th was finally scored from a short corner when Darren Brown's shot was deflected in off a Bedford stick.
5-1 to Stortford. A must win game against Broxbourne 2s next week in which Stortford will be looking to seal their position in 3SW for another season.
Men's 3 vs. Harpenden 3 - Stortford won 7-0
The 3s won their first match since January in convincing style. Similar to last week, Stortford controlled the game in the first ten minutes. The opening goals were a result of the forwards putting the opposition defenders under pressure and 'sacking' them to turnover and create opportunities. A 3-0 lead at half-time then resulted in Stortford scoring two in the first two minutes of the second-half and then the result was never in doubt. Good debut by Niall Trimble who showed composure and good decision-making at right back.
Goals for: Chris Slack (2), Craig Cholerton (2), Elliot Harris, Mick Bashford, martin Gay
Men's 4 vs. Cheshunt 2 - Stortford won 2-0
Another very competent performance. Stortford got the win that the teams’ League positions suggested they should through solid defence and a couple of breakaway goals. Each side had periods of pressure in the other D but no other goals were scored.
Stortford started slowly. Cheshunt applied some pressure but without really troubling Ronnie Stott in goal other than through short corners where he made some fine saves. Stortford got going on the break, especially down the right and made some chances. From a quickly taken free hit Dan Chapman took up a great position and calmly rolled the ball past the advancing keeper. 1-0 at half time.
Stortford were more comfortable in the second half though again Cheshunt had their spells of pressure. From one break Sam Cunningham, who had an excellent game, calmly turned away from his marker on the left and put Dan Chapman in down the inside left channel. Dan pushed the ball past the advancing keeper and across the goal for Stuart Kirk to tap in.
There was opportunity for some more good saves from Stott, especially when Dan Chapman took a five minute yellow card break but generally Stortford controlled the game through Bassingthwaighte (senior) and Krishman (even more senior, turning 50 this week!) in central midfield and probably should have scored more themselves.
Men's 5 vs. West Herts 6 - Stortford lost 2-1
A 10:30 start in Watford beckoned for the 5ths this week, and for some it was not a welcome call. However Murphy's hangover cleared by the end of the game but that was the only good result. His one goal was not enough to beat a sound opposition who exactly reversed the equivalent home fixture. Yes there were chances Brocks trying to reverse hit the ball into the goal after beating the keeper notable in this regard.
Stortford played well but found themselves a goal down at half time. The first fifteen minutes of the second half saw Stortford play some of the best hockey they have played all season and for that reason were camped in West Herts half, but only one goal came from this pressure. When, inevitably, the puff went out of their sails and the game opened up it was West Herts who grabbed a goal 5 minutes from the end to take the game and the required 1 point for promotion from Bishops Stortford.
Men's 6 vs. Shefford & Sandy 3 – Stortford won 2-1
Stortford players re-grouped on a slippery pitch following their bespoke personal training regimes since the rest week previous. Shefford and Sandy brought a strong 3s outfit and looked impressive warming up and especially potent at short corner practice.
The game began brightly for Stortford who mixed high energy with composure to allow a fine pass and slip from Penman to give Sam Taylor another one on one which was powered home from 12 yards. Thereafter Shefford controlled midfield through a quality Irish addition but could not breakdown the Stortford defence in the final third. Strangely the feared shot corners were poorly executed and so 1-0 it stayed at the break.
After the break Shefford lost their playmaker with a hamstring, and pushed more talent upfront for the goal. This allowed Stortford's attacks to become more effective and numerous,but brought many fine saves from the Shefford goalie especially from Rodda, other chances fell to Cox and Penman which were missed. After an accidental head wound, to a young visitor, Stortford faded an were punished on the break as a rebound fell and was smartly taken past the prone Butcher : 1-1.
Rallying now Stortford showed great spirit to go for the win,as Rodda fired an unstoppable angled shot 12 minutes from time. Stortford's defence this time was not in panic mode and did enough to prevent a tame draw quashing the spirit.
This performance from the 6s all round was as good as it could be from these players, where their desire to win was matched with intelligent execution resulting in the much needed victory.
The umpiring was the best received this season where the Sandy man in particular resolutely stood for fairness and no abuse from his clubmates.
An interclub game next week of little consequence for the 6s, where the focus will remain for the remaining 2 League fixtures: Letchworth and Welwyn.