Saturday 18 October
Brentwood 1st XI v L1 SCORE: 3-2 GOALSCORERS: Hollie Laidlaw, Sally Powell.
Bishops’s Stortford were looking to once again find the form of the previous week’s goalfest on their venture across the border into Essex. Newly promoted Brentwood were to prove a tough test with some good results under their belt so far. The match started with Stortford putting the pressure on with some good distribution from the defensive line finding the forwards in space. Stortford were unable to capitalise on a succession of early short corners as the well organised Brentwood defence stood firm. During a rare attacking foray into the opposition ‘D’ Brentwood won a short corner of their own, which unfortunately took a lucky deflection off a defenders foot and into the back of the net. This buoyed Brentwood who stepped up their intensity and started to dominate an unusually subdued Stortford side who were struggling to adapt to the oppositions tactics of man marking. The defence worked incredibly well to limit any scoring opportunities with man of the match Caitlin Brown making several tackles and clearing from the line on one occasion. Stortford continued to find some attacking flair, with a long ball from Suman Garg coming off the keepers pads and fortunately finding Hollie Laidlaw unmarked to slot home into the goal. With balance restored Stortford resumed the pressure, Liv Brookhouse seeming particularly adept at winning short corners which frustratingly could not be converted. Brentwood eventually found themselves with their second short corner of the match, which was dispatched with precision into the corner of the goal. Half time soon followed and both teams were welcome of the chance to regroup.
The second half started with Stortford looking more alert and vocal across the pitch. The midfield worked hard to win balls and create space for the forwards, although the goal just could not be found with several efforts going agonizingly wide of the posts. Eventually a fantastic ball from captain Louisa Rhodes found to an unmarked Sally Powell in space, who calmly bypassed her defender and the advancing keeper to smash the ball into the back of the net. Stortford maintained the momentum and pushed hard to find a winner, however the short corner routines were failing them on the day and once again chances came and went. There was a sense of déjà vu with only a few minutes remaining when Brentwood won their third short corner of the match, which was once again dispatched with clinical precision into the far corner; mirroring the previous defeat away at Bromley and Beckenham. Despite a final push to secure a draw, the final whistle went and a very disappointed Stortford side were left to reflect on a defeat where too many chances were wasted. Next week brings a home fixture against Waltham Forest, where Stortford will be looking to get back to goal scoring and winning ways.
M1 v Old Southendian 1st XI SCORE: 1-2 GOALSCORER: Alex Palmer.
Stortford entertained Old Southendians in the fifth game of the season and were keen to avoid a third consecutive defeat. The game began in lively fashion – the opening five minutes brought opportunities for both sides but neither was able to capitalise. Stortford then took control; marshalled from the back by captain Phil Mathison, the defensive unit initiated waves of attacks that penetrated the visitors’ flanks but either the final ball into the circle was misguided or chances were not accepted. Southendians then launched their own counter-attack and won a series of corners. Some tidy work by the corner defence and another excellent clearance by post man Alex Palmer kept the home side level until a Southendian penalty corner variation was mishit and had the fortune to eliminate the Stortford players before being put into the goal. Stortford could rightly feel aggrieved to be 0-1 down at half time, but it was the visitors who set the pace early in the second half; their slow tempo frustrated Stortford as they looked from the off to pile men behind the ball and seek to break only on the counter-attack.
Frustrating though it may have been, it proved to be an effective approach as Southendians won a number of further penalty corners although these again were ably dealt with by the home side. Finally though, Southendians extended their lead; reacting quicker to the breakdown, the visitors attacked down their left flank and, having crossed well from the base line, the onrushing centre forward made no mistake in finishing hard into the backboards. With 15 minutes to go, Stortford finally came alive and exerted pressure as they desperately sought to claw their way back into the match. Chances began to come and with 5 minutes remaining, Alex Palmer demonstrated his cricketing prowess can score goals as well as save them when the Stortford penalty corner routine saw an ariel ball come towards him before he volleyed it firmly into the net. Further opportunities were forged, but none were exploited to find a deserved equaliser.
After the game, paraphrasing the great military theorist Carl von Clausewitz, coach Albert Marcano reflected that “Everything in hockey is very simple. But the simplest thing is difficult. All the players, all over the park, must work hard to ensure our basics are consistently strong enough to provide a platform for victory.” Stortford will be keen to ensure that next week’s trip to Colchester gets their season back on track.
L2 v Luton 1st XI SCORE: 5-0 GOALSCORERS: Charlotte Teall (2), Elizabeth Reay (2), Martha Hoult.
The Ladies 2s took on Luton at home today. Stortford went out strong looking to continue their winning streak from the previous week. Some great passing lead to Stortford being awarded some early penalty corners. After a deflection, Charlotte Teall slotted the ball in the goal with a reverse hit to take the home side into the lead. Stortford continued on the attacks with the whole team working hard to dominate the game. This paid off with a powerful penalty corner goal from Elizabeth Reay. Shortly before half time Stortford were rewarded with a third goal from Teall. After half time, Stortford were determined to keep Luton out of the game. With Lauren Chandler and Becky Witherden ensuring Stortford maximised their use of the whole width of the pitch, Luton found it hard to get into their attacking D, with the defence easily picking off any loose balls. Stortford dug deep and Reay scored her second with a strike from open play. The fifth and final goal came from a great first touch from Martha Hoult that left the Luton keeper floundering. A great win and team effort.
M2 v Vauxhall 1st XI SCORE: 1-2 GOALSCORER: Tony Robarts.
Bishop's Stortford Men's 2nd XI are still searching for their first victory following a disappointing 2-1 defeat to Vauxhall this weekend. This match was always going to be a close and highly charged fixture and Stortford started positively, maintaining a lot of the early possession, forcing the opposition further back into their own half and creating promising chances. However, a quick break from Vauxhall, a quarter of an hour in, presented the visitor's with their first sight of goal and a well -executed strike from the edge of the semi-circle found its way past the Stortford 'keeper, giving Vauxhall the lead, against the run of play. This setback was only temporary though and Stortford were back on level terms five minutes later. After some great work from James Johnson and Michael Clark down the right, the pair combined inside the Vauxhall 'D' to win their first short corner of the game. Tony Robarts was on hand to fire the ball into the back of the net from the set piece.
With moments of the first half remaining, Vauxhall managed to regain the advantage. This time it came from a quickly taken free-hit and some skill to beat three Stortford defenders in the space of five yards, which forced the goalkeeper from his line to try and narrow the angle. But rather than shoot, the Vauxhall forward found his unmarked striking partner at the far post who was left to roll the ball into the empty net.
The second half offered very little in terms of goalmouth action, with both teams cancelling one another's attacks out in the middle of the pitch. Stortford pushed their forward's higher to stretch the play. Vauxhall responded by putting all players, with exception to one, behind the ball to protect their lead, which meant the remaining minutes of the match played out as though an attack vs defence training session. But the tactic worked for the away side and the game finished with no further score.
Bishop's Stortford hope their fortunes change next weekend, as they travel to Welwyn Garden City, who are also winless this season.
Letchworth 2nd XI v L3 SCORE: 2-2 GOALSCORERS: Laura Shambrook, Viv Ronco
The Ladies 3s were ready for their away match at Letchworth. After a strong start with lots of possession of the ball and determination from the team, the Letchworth team managed to slip a goal in and were 1-0 up. Slightly disheartened by the goal the Stortford team struggled to regain structure and that all important hunger to win. Whilst the visitors once again battled for the ball Letchworth scored again. The half time whistle blew leaving Stortford wondering if they could win the game.
The second half began and Stortford were ready to go down fighting. They had all the possession and after successfully conquering Letchworth’s defence, Laura Shambrook stormed into the D and hit a great shot into the back of the goal. Rejuvenated by the goal Stortford were motivated to equalise. They refused to let Letchworth take control and remained in their hosts end of the pitch for the rest of the game. With equalising at the top of their minds, Storford’s Viv Ronco smashed it into the Letchworth goal as the final whistle blew for a 2-2 draw.
Hertford 2nd XI v M3 SCORE: 5-0 GOALSCORERS: Paul Tomlin (2), Graham Farrant (2), Nick Prowse.
Bishop's Stortford Men's 3's continued their impressive start to the season with a comprehensive victory against Hertford 2's, leapfrogging them to the top of 4SW. As seems to be the norm this season, Stortford started slightly shakily as they settled into the game with a number of new players to the side. Hertford's shape was causing problems for Stortford and they had to weather some early pressure from the home side. In fact it was whilst breaking out from a Hertford attack that Stortford made the breakthrough. Hertford had committed numbers up field and when Man of the match Kyle Plumridge broke up play, Stortford launched a rapid counterattack, led by debutant Will Civil. He interchanged passes with Martin Gay, before driving into the D and laying the ball off for Paul Tomlin to lift home at the far post. The goal settled the visitors and they began to enforce themselves on the game. On the half hour mark Stortford were forcing the issue and when the ball was fired across the D, Graham Farrant diverted it goal wards only to see the ball hit a Hertford player on the line. A penalty flick was rightly awarded and Farrant dispatched it with aplomb.
At halftime, Stortford were probably fortunate to find themselves 2 goals to the good and knew they could play better and the next goal was key. With the Stortford shape now reorganised and being marshalled by Nick Prowse from the back, the side started the second half much brighter and immediately asserted themselves on Hertford, gaining much greater sustained pressure and control. It wasn't long when the tie was put beyond doubt when after a couple of corners, Prowse and Ollie Brown linked at the top of the circle for the former to slap home past the prone Hertford keeper. It was now one way traffic with Stortford imperious at the back and with the added youth in Midfield Hertford found it impossible to launch any meaningful attacks. Tomlin bagged himself a second from close range and when Farrant did likewise from another cutting move the score line was given the gloss Stortford's performance deserved. As the new leaders of 4SW, Stortford are now there to be shot at, but if the side can keep up the commitment and quality that's been evident this season, they could make this one to be remembered.
L4 v St Neots 2nd XI SCORE: 1-0 GOALSCORER: Jo Thompson
The hard efforts of the team paid off this week as the Ladies 4s collected their first points of the season, winning by 1 goal to nil. After several chances at both ends, Jo Thompson scored the deciding goal. Katie Browne, the solid defender, was player of the match.
Welwyn Garden City 2s vs M4s SCORE 3-2 GOALSCORERS: Craig Bassingthwaite, Adrian Krishman
A close match where previously pointless WGC 2s managed to make more of their opportunities than Bishop's Stortford. Stortford started the stronger but looked susceptible on the break and went behind when the Welwyn left wing was allowed two shots at goal. Some occasional desperate defending from Stortford but also plenty of play on the edge of the Welwyn D for the rest of the first half.
Again Stortford started the second half the stronger and Craig Bassingthwaighte shot narrowly wide at the end of one move. However, Welwyn scored two quick goals from short corner moves to go 3-0 up, somewhat against the run of play. That might have been that but Stortford battled back scoring two goals themselves through a Krishman's lob over the keeper and Craig Bassingthwaighte's sweep in following a short corner move. Stortford had opportunities for the draw but Welwyn also went close on the break in a frantic last 10 minutes. Some very good saves from Simon Miles, especially in that second half rightly earned him a man of the match award.
M5 v Shefford & Sandy 2nd XI SCORE: 3-1 GOALSCORERS: Nick Slowe (2), Chris Slack.
Hosting top of the table Shefford and Sandy, Bishops Stortford played an excellent game to win a very well contested game. Shefford and Sandy played very good hockey and posed a constant threat, however with Michael Bashford returning to defence, the Stortford back line always looked strong and were ultimately frustrated to allow a goal in the final two minutes of the game. Before this the game was free flowing with great attacks from Bishops Stortford providing a constant threat. With strong movement from Chris Slack and Grahame Smith there was a constant threat and numerous short corners, which the team still need to find their way to scoring from.
With two well struck goals from Nick Slowe in the first half, Stortford had control of the game. A third goal in the second half crowned the performance Slack roofing a firm cross into the top left corner, adding to his claim for the MoM award. Ben Braund returned after a couple of weeks away to show his ballet skills had improved if not his hockey.
St Albans 8th XI v M6 SCORE: 2-0
Another postponement to their next victory, another blip in the game plan, an away trip to St Albans unfortunately bringing naught for the Mens 6’s but a 2-0 defeat. With more changes to their line-up, the team set themselves up with a strong foundation. Against a much stronger opposition that the previous week, Stortford managed to successfully repel St Albans first half onslaught. As the whistle blew the half-time score remained 0-0. 35 minutes in and Stortford still felt very much in the game.
The second half began to the same tune, but then unfortunately began to wander into dischord. St Alban’s won a penalty corner (their only of the game) and strongly converted it. This was then followed by a second goal from open play, with the usually cat-like John Jackson not quite managing to get in the way of a strike from St Albans burly forward. Despite fighting until the last, Stortford just weren’t able to create anything in the St Albans D and their own chance of converting a penalty corner sadly fumbled. As the final whistle blew, the 6’s definitely knew it was all over.
In balance the result is definitely unflattering to the team’s performance. Dan Cohen Rumbold, Ross Howarth and Phil Rowley maintained a generally strong back line. Nigel Taylor and Captain Duncan Laws did their damnedest to claim the centre of the pitch for themselves. There were some nice linked plays across the mid’s between Simon Radbourne, John Gould & David Collins. And, making a welcome return appearance up front, Sam Taylor frequently troubled the St Albans defence. However, it is clear there are still tough lessons to be learned. With the team still an unfinished article, there are a number of rough edges that need to be worked upon before they can consistently turn around their fortunes.
Previous weeks' match reports are available using the submenu under match reports on the right hand side menu.