SATURDAY 24 AND SUNDAY 25 JANUARY 2015
P11 W3 D2 L6 F27 A27 PTS 11
LADIES’ 1s LOST 2-3 VS UPMINSTER. SCORER: ANA COSTAMANGA X2
Stortford Ladies 1s travelled away to Upminster this weekend. With all the cancellations it had felt like a long break over Christmas and the girls were ready to get back to some hockey.
The plan was to get the second half of the season off to a good start with a win but sadly this was not to be.
Stortford started strong, defending well to keep Upminster out and creating some good opportunities going forward. As the half went on we slipped into some bad habits of trying to pass through Upminster rather than go round and their strong press saw them turnover play a number of times. They were eventually awarded a controversial penalty stroke which they scored to take them into the lead. Stortford were quick to respond and a quality ball from Lexie Guthrie to Pippa Bull was moved quickly on to Ana Costamagna who found herself one on one with the keeper. Ana kept her cool in front of goal and slotted the ball home to take us into half time at 1-1.
Stortford continued to create chances in the second half and were eventually rewarded by an impressive reverse stick shot from Man of the Match Ana Costamagna which saw her find the back of the net for the second time to take them in to the lead. Sadly Stortford struggled to maintain the momentum and once again slipped into trying to go through instead of round Upminster. Upminster made the most of these opportunities and scored two further goals. The game ended a disappointing 3-2 to Upminster.
With a double header coming up this weekend Stortford are going to be working hard in training to prepare for two good matches.
MEN’S 1s WON 5-2 VS CHELMSFORD. SCORERS: JAMIE BROOKS, NIALL TRIMBLE, STEVE ABBOTT, LUKE TAYLOR, PHIL MATHISON
In recent seasons, a comfortable win combined with a strong performance by Stortford’s Men’s 1s is much like a unicorn; spoken of at length, often in hushed reverential tones, but hard to find someone who has actually seen one. Saturday’s match, however, provided the stage for this fairy tale to play out with gusto! There was a blend of youth and experience on display; Jamie Brooks and Niall Trimble made their first team debuts in a day which saw young players having an impact in all sides across the men’s section while the veterans Vernon Brown and Albert Marcano both featured in the starting xi.
There were opportunities at both ends in the opening moments of the game and although Stortford were the most threatening, their menace failed to translate into clear cut opportunities. By the time the opening ten minutes had gone, there had been penalty corners at both ends and already some signs of Chelmsford frustration creeping into their game. A well-worked ball saw Vernon Brown press down the right hand side and reaching the base line was able to draw in defenders and ‘keeper alike before playing a perfect cross to Steve Abbott who made no mistake in burying the ball into the far corner. Further chances followed; Alex Palmer fired a vicious drag flick over the crossbar before a second attempt was well parried by the post man to safety. As the half progressed, the crowd grew restless mindful that the Stortford dominance hadn’t translated to goals despite the Chelmsford ‘keeper being called into action on several occasions. Finally a moment of brilliance set Stortford on the road to victory. Jamie Brooks showed some brilliant skill belying his tender years to first round the ‘keeper before dispatching a reverse stick exocet that hit the roof of the net at pace.
Going into halftime 2-0 gave Stortford a strong platform, but Albert Marcano reinforced that the next goal was crucial in determining the outcome and Phil Mathison played a captain’s innings in midfield. His resolve was rewarded when he scored the vital third goal with a powerful slap shot at a penalty corner that left the defensive player on the line with no chance of stopping. Stortford were cruising at this point although an inopportune link up between Marcano and Ecott saw the latter depart to the sin bin for playing the ball above his shoulder. Chelmsford too were to lose men as their discipline faltered and the umpires lost patience with them. A defensive mix up saw Stortford concede a soft goal to make it 3-1, but Stortford quickly regained the margin of their lead as Jamie Brooks yet again made a decisive run into the circle before laying it up to Niall Trimble to score the fourth. Stortford should have been able to enjoy the final moments, but as Butcher became the latest member of the Bruce Grobbelar ‘the less you save, the more you earn’ investment scheme, he was left paralysed by a seemingly innocuous Chelmsford reverse stick shot which brought the score back to 4-2. Chelmsford quickly won a penalty corner and there was a glimmer of tension, before Stortford broke at the other end and Luke Taylor made no mistake in dispatching a reverse stick flick to secure another 3 points as Stortford chalked up their 4th successive league win. Afterwards, Coach Marcano reflected that “today was the team’s best performance of the season. The team showed pride and they showed power, and can look themselves in the mirror and be pleased with their display. Having some talented juniors stepping up creates competition in the squad and gives us some new options in our midfield and attacking lines.” With trips to Old Southendians, and to Ipswich & East Suffolk next week, Stortford will be looking to maintain their good run of form.
LADIES’ 2s DREW 2-2 VS LUTON. SCORERS: CHARLOTTE TEALL, MARTHA HOULT
Stortford were slow to start and Luton were first to find the backboard from a short corner (after a heinous stick tackle from the attackers) Stortford from the pushback came out attacking in an effort to try and even the game.
After coming out hard in the second half, bishops Stortford equalised with an excellent run from charlotte finishing it off with a slip past the keeper. Stortford conceded several short corners with the defence battling hard to keep it out- unfortunately the last short corner rocketed past the keeper. Stortford were kept in with some outstanding saves from Charlie Simmonds who made a double save flying across the goal as a result got man of the match.
In the last few minutes of the game Stortford Hooley fired the ball through to lauren chandler who crossed the ball in for Martha who took the shot on the volley to equalise just before the final whistle.
MEN’S 2s WON 3-0 VS HARPENDEN 2. SCORERS: GREGG PETTIT, TONY ROBARTS, ELLIOT HATHAWAY.
The Men's 2nd XI recorded a vital 3-0 win over bottom placed Harpenden this weekend, as they strive to salvage their season and maintain their status within Division 3SW.
Prior to the match, only goal difference separated the two teams at the foot of the table, with the gap to safety being four points away. So to keep any hope of avoiding relegation alive, victory was a must.
The game stayed evenly poised for the first 20 minutes, as both sides attacked tentatively, ensuring not to leave themselves exposed to the counter-attack. However, as the match progressed the hosts began to protect possession of the ball more and start to stretch the Harpenden midfield and defence, enabling them to create a few chances on goal.
With pressure mounting on the visitor's back line, a defensive error in their 'D', after some clever stick-work from Mark Taylor, resulted in Stortford first short corner of the game. A powerful strike at the top of the circle from Tony Robarts was too strong for the defender on the line to stop the ball crossing the line to give the home side a 1-0 advantage, which they took into the half-time interval.
Harpenden started the second half brightly, as they pushed more men forward in search of a goal to bring the game back on level terms. Unfortunately for them, this left little cover at the back and allowed Stortford to set themselves up to counter-attack. It was one of these quick breaks that found it's way through to Elliot Hathaway, who instinctively fired a shot on goal from his reverse stick, which the keeper could not stop from crossing the line, despite getting a pad to it, to give the home side their second goal and some breathing room.
Ten minutes from the end, Stortford secured the points, when Gregg Pettit intercepted a cross-field pass between Harpenden defenders, made his way into the semi-circle and smashed the ball past the helpless goalkeeper, to make it 3-0.
Next week, the Men's 2nd XI travel to Vauxhall, where an identical result - and the outcome of other matches - could see them climb two places outside the dropzone.
LADIES’ 3s LOST 1-4 vs LETCHWORTH 2.
MEN’S 3s LOST 1-3 vs HARPENDEN 3. SCORER: OLLIE BROWN
Lethargic, lackadaisical and listless. There were no lead runs, no pressure on the ball, first receipts of ball were spilled,and far too much dribbling onto open flat sticks. Harpenden played all the hockey and were good value for their win.
MEN’S 3s LOST 1-3 vs BEDFORD 3 (SUNDAY). SCORER: JOE SYMONDS
Stortford were ultimately undone in this game in a 15 minute spell when they conceded 3 poor goals on the counter attack and left themselves a mountain to climb. They had started the game brightly and looked the better side in the opening exchanges, when on 15 minutes they got caught too far upfield and Bedford punished them on the counter to go 1-0 up. Not learning from the experience Stortford continued to commit too many bodies forward leaving big gaps for the Bedford forwards to exploit with their pace. They immmediately broke again and added a second before immediately adding a third. Stortford were visibly rattled and did well to hold the score at 3-0 till half time.
The break bought a chance to reorganise and the side immediately changed to a stringent half court press in order to close the gaps for Bedford to break into and allow Stortford themselves to break on the opposition. The change worked and Stortford began to boss the game. Time after time Bedford could not break the half way line and Stortford seixed the opportunities to break at pace and create chance after chance. Sadly they could not take any of these chances with Pettit the worst offender in front of goal. Finally they did get one back with 15 minutes to go through a well worked corner which allowed Jo Symonds to slot home. Stortford continued to boss the game, but could not find any further breakthroughs and were left to rue what might have been.
Despite the result, the team should be encouraged at the quality of hockey they showed, especially in the second half and on another day would have pulled off a remarkable turnaround and won the game 5/6 - 3. The teams use and understanding of the presses is improving and their discipline and teamwork to execute was exemplary in the second half. It was just the end product that was missing on this occasion.
LADIES’ 4s POSTPONED
MEN’S 4s LOST 0-2 vs ST ALBANS 5s.
St Albans deserved to win this game, scoring a goal in each half. Stortford showed character and competed well with good showings from the junior contingent (Ross Butler, Ed Patton, Sam Cunningham, James Stephenson and Bradley Moon) against opposition that bit bigger and stronger and much more experienced than them.
Stortford played some good hockey in both halves, with Ed Patton linking play well in the middle, but seldom really managed to develop their attacks without a pass going astray before an effort had been made on goal. John Shepherd and Jon Moon were an assured presence at the back to stem most St Albans attacks. Simon Martyn made several good saves but one in particular from a very powerful short corner strike even had the opposition applauding. Mark Shillito ran tirelessly to close down the St Albans midfield.
A little more sustained energy and pace will be needed to start picking up some points again but plenty to build on.
MEN’S 5s WON 6-0 vs LUTON VAGRANTS. SCORERS: NICK SLOWE X3, CHRIS SLACK, JAMES ‘BADGER’ BROCKS X2
After a long lay off it was good to get underway again for the new year, and in some style. In a hard contested game the 5s always looked slightly stronger and controlled the mid-field.
To please the fantasy league managers Nick Slowe scored another hat-trick to get himself up to 22 for the season and Badger also slotted two short corners with style. Chris Slack, a constant threat to the opposition scored one for himself and probaby should have been awarded another.
After the famine the feast.... another game this Sunday.
MEN’S 5s LOST 1-3 vs CHESHUNT 2s (SUNDAY). SCORER: NICK SLOWE
Despite training having been called off, the pitch thawed in time for the visit of Cheshunt 2s who currently sit at 2nd in the league. Both sides arrived having won the day before , however Bishops Stortford appeared to be the more tired. Like the previous fixture the game was closely contested with chances at both ends. However the pressure was predominantly from the Cheshunt forwards and they ended the first half two goals up. In the second half Bishops Stortford played much higher and the game was very even. MoM Chris Ashworth made some great saves at the other end. The pressure from Stortford told and Nick Slowe got on the end of an excellent cross to sweep the ball in and make the score 2-1. Cheshunt pressed late on and tired legs allowed a 3rd goal and that was how the game ended.
MEN’S 6S DREW 5-5 vs BERKHAMSTED 5s. SCORERS: WILL SALE, PHIL HOULT, SAM TAYLOR X3
A round-trip to Buckinghamshire this week, in which the Mighty 6’s continue to bring the goals in a nail-biting division 9 battle.
Arriving at a crisp Aylesbury pitch, the first order of the day was sorting out which team, of the two oppositions that had turned up, we’d be playing. However, with the errant Banbury team soon dispatched and a liberal dose of salt from the Groundskeeper, the signs looked good that the 15-strong Stortford side’s journey hadn’t been in vain.
And so, the game commenced. With a cancelled match the previous week and no opportunities for training, Stortford’s structure started much looser than it has in recent matches. A strong attacking line-up started proceedings by testing the Berkhamsted defence, eventually resulting in a Phil Hoult goal.
What looked like a promising start though was frequently undone by a speedy Berkhamsted frontline. Capitalising on their pace, they managed to catch Stortford’s backline on the break and pull back two goals in rapid succession. With Stortford struggling to plug the gaps, a Sam Taylor penalty corner drew them level, only to see another rapid attack put the Home side 3-2 ahead at half-time.
The second half opened at the same pace, with Sam Taylor putting another away to draw the 6’s level, only to see the Berkhamsted again make the most of a Stortford defensive error and push themselves ahead again. The game of cat-and-mouse continued with Will Sale, finally getting his debut goal for the club, drawing the visitor’s level, only to see the 6th team 5-4 behind minutes later.
So, in the dying minutes of the game, with Ross Haworth marshalling a much tighter defence, Stortford drew on their reserves of subs, pushed upfront and, following a few mighty but failed attempts, Sam Taylor once again drew the 6’s level to 5-5. With 5 minutes to go Stortford continued to push on for another to seal a victory, but it just wasn’t to be. However, after coming from behind for most of the match, I’m not sure anyone could complain about the draw.
In terms of performances, despite a slow start, by the end of the second half there was some great hockey being played by a youthful Stortford side. Obviously another strong outing again for Phil Hoult, but promising play upfront also from Will Sale, Rick Carr and Joe Hoult. Across midfield Phil Rowley, Andy Cox, Jonathan Barber and Nigel Taylor linked well and, under the eye of Ross Haworth, Andrew Hewins, Alex Kings and Rob Gill had their work cut out in defence dealing with the Berkhamsted wingers. Not such a great day in the office for Simon Miles making his second outing in goal for the 6’s, but given the nature of the play it was a tough role to fill.
Man of the match was Sam Taylor, whose hat-trick definitely kept Stortford in the game. But, overall, if the 6’s can continue this momentum and soften some of their rough edges, it’s looking to be an enjoyable rest of the season.