25 OCTOBER 2014
P10 W4 D1 L5 F21 A42
L1s vs Waltham Forest. Won 4-3. Scorers: Suman Bala Garg, Louisa Rhodes, Ana Costamanga, Anna Swan
Bishop’s Stortford ladies hosted a revitalised Waltham Forest, who returned to near full strength following some injuries. The hosts started strongly winning the first short corner of the match, but it was forest that capitalised first taking the lead through a messy short corner. They shortly doubled the lead in open play with poor marking from the Stortford defence.
The hosts quickly responded with Ana Costamagna finishing across goal after some good set up play from fellow forward Pettengall. However more sloppy play allowed forest to again increase their lead.
After some restructuring from Stortford they started to settle into their usual play and increased pressure on the visitors which brought rewards with numerous short corners. A well practised routine allowed Anna Swan to score her first goal of the season with a deflection. At the break Stortford were trailing 2-3 with all the work to do in the second half.
As the final 35 minutes got underway, the hosts started to play some of their best hockey of the season, and regularly found space down both wings and put continued pressure on the visitors goal. Another short corner saw player coach Suman Bala Garg's shot fly past the keeper. Pressure at both ends continued and as the match drew to a close either team could still take the win, but it was Stortford with the best chances with repeated short corners coming agonisingly close. A final run from man of the match Costamagna saw another flurry of corners. The hosts opted to go for another short practise ground routine and captain Louisa Rhodes deflected from the p-spot to take the lead 4-3 with just 1 minute remaining.
An all round team performance and fighting spirit saw Stortford clinch a valuable 3 points. Next week sees them play away to top of the table St. Albans.
M1s vs Colchester. LOST 1-6. Scorer: Alex Palmer
Stortford’s lofty ambitions for the season were dealt a severe blow after a crushing defeat away at Colchester. Having lost the previous three games, albeit against sides flying high in the table, Stortford were relishing the chance to return to winning ways against a side seemingly struggling for goals. Captain Phil Mathison was hampered in his selection this week with 5 players from the midfield and forward lines unavailable due to a combination of social commitments that included warm weather training abroad, catching up with friends, and a wedding. Into the breach stepped Adam Cawthray-Stern making his first team debut, youngster Ed James, and Albert Marcano as well as the return of Alex James who, in Will Goldsworthy’s absence, regained his starting postion.
The visitors were given a rude awakening in the opening moments of the game. Stortford squandered possession from the push back; a weak pass was intercepted and with two deft passes, the Colchester attack were able to sweep pass both Rounds leaving the Colchester striker in the centre of the circle with plenty of time to dispatch his shot past Butcher after just 28 seconds. A little dazed, Stortford had to repel some more attacks early on as they struggled to adapt to the home side’s movement off the ball. As the initial shock wore off, Stortford grew into the game and spent much of the first half on the offensive. However, despite some industrious play by Cawthray-Stern and some good work up front by Alex Palmer, possession and control were not translating to chances and goals. 28 minutes in Colchester secured a penalty corner for an alleged foot in the circle and made no mistake in slipping it left to a man to finish with a flick high into the goal. 0-2 did little to reflect the first half hour of play and Stortford were resolute to get back into the game before half time. Winning a string of penalty corners, they looked likely to do so. With Alex Palmer on the bench, Albert Marcano took control at the top of the circle. His first, a drag flick low and hard was dealt with well by the Colchester corner unit. However, the umpire adjudged the clearance to be illegal and a second corner followed. Marcano flicked again, this time high. With the keeper beaten, the shot looked destined to end up in the top corner, but the post man did his job well to deny Stortford with an impressive pick above and behind his head. Shortly before half time, a third corner was won and running a variation, Stortford saw the shot blocked well by the Colchester runner and the ball deflected behind the goal. Expecting to retain possession with a long corner, the visitors were caught on the hop when the defence were awarded the ball. Whilst Stortford were still arguing the case, Colchester broke quickly with a near-perfect penalty corner counter-attack. Moving the ball efficiently down the right flank and eliminating Stortford’s first line of defence, the Colchester winger found himself with a choice of two passes and made no mistake in bypassing the last ditch efforts of Round and Butcher to allow his teammate to finish with the simplest of finishes at the back post right on the stroke of half time.
Stortford started the second half determined to claw their way back into the match. However, another twist of fate was to go against them early on and effectively ended the contest. As Colchester played the ball forward it was deflected over the last defender’s stick and the home striker made no mistake in dispatching a well-taken strike on the half-volley to make it 0-4. The Stortford defence were apoplectic; convinced the ball had been illegally deflected using the back of the stick, their remonstrations with the umpire were long and vocal. But having conferred, neither umpire saw enough to uphold Stortford’s appeals and the goal stood. Having conceded so early in the half, the visitors were dejected; the fight had been sucker-punched out of them. Mid-way through the half, another penalty corner to the home side saw Sam Ecott disappear to the sin bin for the second time this season just before a 5th goal was scored following a mistake by Butcher. Alex Palmer scored a consolation goal with probably the best of the seven finishes in the match. Following some attractive build up play, a well-executed cross by Alex James was expertly deflected by Alex Palmer for his second goal in as many games. There was still time for a final Colchester goal – a near mirror image of the counter attack in the first half as they broke out with prowess following a late Stortford penalty corner.
After the game, both Coach and Captain were quick to highlight to the team that rapid improvement is now needed. Coach Albert Marcano said, “whilst we can highlight changes to personnel or misfortunes in the match, the incontrovertible fact is that we are not performing well enough at the moment to realise our ambitions. We need to create more opportunities to score and we need to be more ruthless in turning those chances into goals so that we build pressure on our opponents rather than chasing the game.” Next week, Stortford host Brentwood and will be looking for a much improved display.
L2s vs Broxbourne 2. Won 1-0. Scorer: Martha Hoult
Local derbies are always highly competitive matches, none more so than when Stortford and Broxbourne clash. After playing hard in the first 10 minutes the Ladies’ 2s were off to a good start asking questions of the Broxbourne defence. Having carved out multiple chances at goal, Stortford finally got their reward as the winning goal was secured in the second half. Well done to Martha! Everyone played a very good game and worked extremely hard and another clean sheet helped to send Stortford to the top of the league! Bring on next week!
M2s vs Welwyn Garden City M1s. LOST 4-3. Scorers: Paul Tomlin, Joe Symonds, Tony Robarts
The Men's 2nd XI suffered another sorry defeat this weekend, putting their pre-season plans to push for promotion beyond hope and instead are now facing a fight for survival in Division 3SW. Their hosts, Welwyn Garden City, had only managed to collect a single point in the league campaign themselves, prior to this fixture, so Stortford's hopes to register their first victory of the season were high. However, these were soon dashed as a lacklustre performance from the visitors allowed Welwyn to score three first half goals, with the only positive for Stortford being a deceptive deflection from Paul Tomlin, which found it's way past the 'keeper into the back of the Welwyn goal to make it 3-1 at the interval. The second half, saw a much more even contest and despite conceding a fourth, Stortford were determined to make amends for the opening 35 minutes. At the mid-point of the second half, their efforts were rewarded when Tony Robarts' powerful strike from a short-corner found the backboard, to reduce the deficit back to two goals. Five minutes later, Stortford's Joe Symonds was on hand to divert George Hindle's cross beyond the Welwyn goalkeeper, to claw back another making it 4-3.This set the game up for a frantic finish, as Stortford threw more men in to the attack and Welwyn reverting to pulling all players behind the ball.
Unfortunately, Stortford's rally was left just a little too late and time ran out before they could complete the unthinkable comeback.
L3s vs Berkhamsted. Lost 0-2.
The Ladies 3s faced a tough encounter and played well and fought hard, but unfortunately could not get the goals they needed, resulting in 2-0 win to Berkhamsted. That said, there were strong games played from everyone, defenders drove the team forward with strong tackles, midfielders fought back and gave powerful passes towards the forwards who tried their best to take it and get a shot on goal! Especially well done to our players of the match Helen Perry and Katy Motson.
M3s vs St Albans 4s. WON 2-1. Scorers: Graham Farrant, Richard Temple
Stortford 3's had to dig deep against an impressive St.Alban’s development side to take all 3 points on Saturday and remain top of Division 4SW. Stortford started the game in now customary fashion.....slowly, with the visitors playing a very high press and pinning Stortford in their own half. Stortford's usual composed passing from the back was missing and St.Albans were in the ascendency as they overpowered the middle of the pitch. It wasn't long before things went from bad to worse when Jonathan Moon got struck on the head from a wayward hit down the line and Stortford were reduced to 10 men. Stortford tried to reorganise, but shortly found themselves behind from a bobbly reverse stick shot which found its way into the bottom corner.
Half time came and gave the side a chance to think and set themselves up for the second half as well as getting back to 11 players on the pitch! Stortford compacted the game and dropped back to a half court press, inviting their young opponents to take responsibility at the back and find a way through. The tactic worked and St.Albans suddenly found it impossible to get into the Stotford half and regularly turned possesion over on the halfway line. As Stortford gained greater dominance of the game, they won a number of short corners and it was from one of these they drew level. The initial strike appeared to get lodged under the keepers pad, but Graham Farrant somehow freed it and managed to nudge it over the line.
Both teams were looking for the victory, but it was Stortford who appeared the more dangerous as the St.Albans press dropped allowing Stortford a little more time to pick their passes and launch counter attacks. With 5 minutes to go Stortford won a free hit just outside the 23 metre line and Nick Prowse was able to find Richard Temple free in the circle to coolly sweep home. With St.Albans resistance broken the remaining minutes passed without incident and Stortford held on for the win.
All in all a really gutsy performance from the side culminating in a win that looked incredibly unlikely at half time. Stortford remain top of the table with 5 wins out of 6, but face a potential banana skin away trip to Bedford next week.
L4s vs Saffron Walden 5s. Lost 2-16.
M4s vs Stevenage 3s. WON 3-2. Scorers: Adrian Krishman x2, Connor Mak
Stortford made hard work of this game. They started strongly and made a number of chances, especially from short corners, in the first half. It was Stevenage that took the lead. Happily this only inspired Stortford to greater effort and Connor Mak equalised after another spell of pressure in the Stevenage D. 1-1 at half time.
Stortford started the second half very well indeed. Connor Mak was increasing in confidence on the right and working well with Matt Brown and Adrian Krishman. The second was scored through the move of the season (so far) with some good passing culminating in Craig Bassingthwaighte threading a ball through from the edge of the 25 to Adrian Krishman who was running in from the right wing. Krishman pushed past the advancing keeper. More good play resulted in another goal from Krishman. Stortford were also having success down the left with James Stephenson and Chris Slack combining well. From one attack Slack lobbed the keeper only for the ball to be saved by an illegal hook shot on the line. Penalty and a second Stevenage player sent to the sin bin (the first had wound himself and then umpire David Earl up).
After some deliberation, Krishman was offered the chance of his hat-trick but the flick was sent wide in a way reminiscent of Stortford's first half finishing. This left 15 minutes when (almost inevitably) Stevenage scored though Stortford played out the remaining time fairly well and the second win of the season was secured.
M5s vs Blueharts 5s. LOST 7-1. Scorer: James Brocks
After recent performances, half term brought some unavailability of key personnel and the 5s found themselves enduring a difficult day at the office against a ruthless Blueharts side. Badger pulled back a consolation goal but this was a game best forgotten.
M6s vs Shefford and Sandy 4s. DREW 3-3. Scorer: James Smith x3.
So close, yet so far. A brisk autumnal start for the Men’s 6th as they faced a youthful Shefford & Sandy side, whose performance certainly belied their bottom of the league position.
Stortford opened well, with the additions James Smith and Gary Jones in central positions adding pace and composure to the side. The ball spent the entirety of the opening minutes within Stortford’s possession and, while the rest of the match became a scrappier affair, the Home side remained dominant for the first half. The Gill-Jones-Howarth defence remained generally unfazed for the opening period, with Simon Miles making short work of the opposition’s opportunities. However, it wasn’t until Stortford won a penalty corner, strongly converted by James Smith, that the game truly started. Stortford stepped it up with narrow misses coming from both Brian Daden and Captain Duncan Laws, before James Smith capitalised on the pressure and picked up his second. And so, getting to 2-0 ahead at half-time and with the opposition feeling rattled, it felt like the game was Stortford’s for the taking. Could this be the win that had escaped them for the last couple of weeks?
Sadly, the second half became a different story. A slow start by Stortford was capitalised on by Shefford. Within the first couple of minutes they had managed to find their way through the Stortford defences and pull back their first. Although Stortford regrouped and managed to hold off a couple of penalty corners, the first half’s winning veneer started to slip, and a second goal for the opposition soon followed. For a half that had started so optimistically, it was all beginning to sour for the 6’s.
With some tactical restructuring, Stortford started looking to put themselves ahead again. However despite reapplied focus upfront some equal fading in midfield meant that although James Smith earned his hat-trick with another strong finish, so did the charismatic Shefford forwards.
As the final whistle blew, Stortford remained unable to conjure up a last minute chance and so it was that the Men’s 6th had to settle for a draw. Had the cards fallen in a different order this could have been cause for minor celebration, but as it was the team couldn’t help but feel victory had once again slipped their grasp. Overall the 6's showed optimistic signs of things to come. The youth element of Simon Miles, Will Sale & Jonathan Barber made strong impressions and even the older hands showed that they could string a decent set of passes together to make some good plays. Looking forwards Stortford still need to look to ensure they keep their structure and maintain possession and consistency of play in order to progress.
Man of the match was undoubtedly James Smith, with a worthy hat-trick, although a close second would definitely be Simon Miles making a strong debut in goal for the 6's.