Bishop's Stortford Hockey Club - Match Reports 20150228

P10 W4 D0 L1 F23 A28

Saturday 28 February / Sunday 01 March 2015

League: P10 W4 D1 L5 F23 A28

Cup: P2 W1 D0 L1 F9 A7


BSHC came into the match following an emphatic win at home last week. The match started at a high pace with Stortford soaking up the pressure from a skilled Loughts forward line. Good distribution from the defence and work from the midfield saw Ana Costamagna with a shooting opportunity in the D. The ensuing stick tackle resulted in a short corner and a clean strike from Suman Bala Garg took a deflection off a Loughts stick to sail into the goal 1-0 to Stortford.

Buoyed by the scoreline Stortford pressed higher and settled into their passing hockey. Loughts used their familiarity with the bouncy pitch to create some good chances but Stortford's defence held firm and keeper Ali was able to deal with any rogue balls that found their way through. As half time approached tempers within the opposition camp began to fray which only served to strengthen Stortford's resolve to work as a team.

The second half began in much the same way as the first with end to end hockey, both sides finding ways to create chances and win short corners. Good work from Lou Rhodes finding a foot in the opposition D have us another chance for the short and Suman Bala Garg once again dispatched the ball into the back of the net to take it to 2-0.

Loughts started to play long ball hockey not unlike that seen at West Ham on a Saturday. Lexie G (Man of the match) was on top form and her quality distribution found the gaps in the Loughts press. Good work from the whole team saw Lou Rhodes in the D again with a clear goal scoring opportunity. Unfortunately the Loughts defender momentarily forgot she wasn't at Twickers and this wasn't the 6 nations as she bundled Lou into touch.

Stortford parted like the Red Sea and Laidlaw was left standing to take the penalty flick. Like a typical Scot the goal was scored with aplomb. Stortford continued to pile on the pressure on an increasingly irate Loughts team. Stortford's solid defence soaked up the pressure from a series of shorts and a last minute attack almost saw Stortford sneak in a 4th goal. Final score 3-0. A great result to start a week when Stortford Ladies 1s will play 4 of their remaining league matches in just 9 days!


 There was action aplenty in a lively encounter but when the final whistle came, Stortford were ultimately thwarted. The pre-match build up saw the Pelicans of King’s Lynn arriving sporadically; their southward migration had been disrupted not least by one of their cars arriving at Cricketfield Lane rather than Hockerill. Judging by the grizzled experience amongst some of their number, it was entirely possible that some of them may have played on the grass there back in the day. Enough of their squad had survived the trip though and the match started with 11 vs 11 and the home side looking to press home the advantage of a proper warm-up. This plan looked promising as a well-worked move down the right hand side culminated in a well-finished strike from Alex Palmer to take the lead after just 45 seconds, leaving the Pelicans’ defence shell-shocked. However, the home side were not quite up to speed either and just moments later a Pelicans striker received the ball unmarked in the middle of the circle, although the onrushing David Butcher did enough to disrupt his shot which he put wide. Ten minutes in, there was an off-the-ball incident which would colour the rest of proceedings. Having pushed high into the Pelicans’ territory, Andy Round was felled by a swinging stick to the leg, well above shinpad height; being someway from what had happened, the umpires were unable to determine the intent of the player involved, but in any event, after a pause in the game, Round limped to the dugout where he spent much of the rest of the first half. During that time, both sides had chances; a mazy run from Josh Lloyd saw him jinx past the majority of the visiting team and culminated in what looked like the second goal until the metallic reverb of the upright signalled otherwise. The Pelicans were playing some dangerous lateral overhead balls which created pressure on the Stortford baseline and eventually led to a penalty corner as Butcher’s ill-timed kick was adjudged to be a deliberate clearance over the backline. A mistrapped corner routine saw Butcher log as the ball was dispatched high towards the Stortford goal. The postmen did their jobs well; but in the scramble that followed, the ball was bundled over the line for an equaliser. At the other end, Stortford were winning penalty corners of their own and with a well-worked variation were unlucky not to score; Sam Ecott’s final shot saw the defenders and goalkeeper well-beaten but played too high to count for a first shot at goal. Finally the second goal did come and Sam Ecott provided the last Stortford touch to guide it into the goal and his side into the lead again. But as the moments counted down towards halftime, Pelicans again breached the Stortford defence: as they attacked down the flanks, the waiting striker slipped away from his defender and played the finest of deflections to finish well. 2-2 at halftime and despite the home side’s dominance, there was still much work to do for Stortford to earn the win. As tempers began to fray, in part a consequence of Stortford’s frustration at the inability to translate chances into goals but also the challenge of the Pelicans’ physicality, the game became scrappier and the cordial relationship with the umpires began to deteriorate as both sides began to question decisions. With the umpires feeling the pressure, it was perhaps unsurprising that cards began to appear like daffodils in the spring. The first was a surprise;  a careless tackle from Alex James saw him disappear to the sinbin. The second came shortly afterwards as an opposition player followed him there. With the mid-part of the second half played with 10 vs 10, space began to open up for both sides, although the Stortford defence continued to deal well with the Pelicans’ overhead threat. Finally though, the decisive moment came; the ball was turned over deep in Stortford territory and although Albert Marcano did well to push the striker wide, Butcher could do nothing with the well-executed strike that saw a powerful finish with 15 minutes to go. Following a Pelicans free hit, despite trying to retreat like a 1970s secretary being pursued by a Radio 1 DJ, Alex James was adjudged to have made insufficient effort to remove himself from proceedings, and so the umpire helped him on his way as he was sinbinned for the second time in the game. He was swiftly accompanied by captain Phil Mathison after some post-incident commentary was not well-received. Reduced to 9 men, the contest was effectively over, and the visitors managed to return back to the Fens with the points. Afterwards, coach Albert Marcano reflected that “although this represents the first defeat in the league since November, there was much that was positive about today’s game. There were some strong defensive performances and players adapted well to playing in positions that may not be their first choice. However, we cannot afford to let perceived injustices impact on our discipline, and we do need to turn more of our chances into goals so that individual decisions become minor talking points afterwards rather than key moments in games.” With four games remaining, Stortford make the long trip away to league leaders Spalding next week.




Stortford arrived to this fixture against second in the table with a bruised, battered and depleted side from the day before. They were missing 10 regular 1st team players due to prior commitments or apparent injuries, and instead were allowing the 4th XI goalkeeper plus a number of youngsters to make their 1st XI debut's.
The expectations of the match were low and most players were thinking solely of 'damage-control'. But Stortford started strongly withstanding attacks from the high flying Ipswich East-Suffolk side. Andy Round stepped up as sweeper and organised the players in front of him admirally. The first 5mins were all the home sides, but each attack was thwarted by the new look defence. Eventually Stortford managed to keep hold of the ball for a number of passes and broke quickly down into the opposition area to be awarded a short corner. Captain Phil Mathison stepped up to fire a powerful drag flick however it was wide of the target. This gave Stortford hope though and the team started to play some very good hockey down both flanks with the opposition having no answer for Luke Taylor's quick hands.
But the home side pressed forward and were awarded a short corner after 25mins which saw a neat flick hit the back of the net.
Coming into half time the team was surprised and proud of their first half performance, but aware of the next 35min efforts a head of them. Unfortunately 5mins into the second half it looked like the home side were going to walk away with it. After a slip from Mathison to allow his player inside the 25m the Ipswich player played the ball across the box where it found one of his players to slot home. Then next 5mins Stortford looked shaken and unable to deal with the high Ipswich press, making rare forays into the opposition half. But again some solid, front foot, defending from the Round brothers especially kept the score at 2-0.
However, one of the rare attacks from Stortford saw them awarded a couple of short corners from which Mark Taylor managed to slot the ball home making it 2-1 and putting pressure on the home side.
This was short lived however as the home side restored their two goal advantage immediately from the push back with a well worked goal. The remainder of the game was cagey affair but Ipswich E-S managed to bag a fourth from the penalty spot after 'keeper Butcher felled the on coming striker.
The final whistle cam with both sides relatively happy, the home side for the results, the away side for the performance.
Coach Marcano said of his side: 'I have very proud of the way the team worked together, and of the players that came into the side a late notice. It shows how this side is evolving that even with a weakened team we can push the top sides all the way in game'.






The Men's 2nds recent run of victories came to an end On Saturday, as they were beaten by third placed Shefford & Sandy 5-1.
Twice in the opening 15 minutes, Stortford were caught off guard as a couple of speculative strikes into their semi-circle were deflected at the back post and into the goal, giving the visitors an early 2-0 lead.
Before the half-time interval Shefford & Sandy added a third, giving Stortford a massive task for the second half, if they were to get anything from the game.
The home side were able to claw a goal back, when the Shefford & Sandy was left stranded trying to close down Rick Oakley's shot in the 'D'. However, the ball was played into the path of an umarked Michael Clark at the far post, who was able to walk it into the empty net.
A comeback was not to be though and Shefford & Sandy added two more, to finish the game off.
Stortford will hope to get back to winning ways, when they take on Luton Town next week.






L4s WON 3-2 vs LUTON




Stortford were blown away in the early minutes of this match. The visitors expected West Herts to start fast but they had not factored in an impressive short corner routine featuring a drag flick of some power. Stortford conceded the first from open play as West Herts worked their way in down the right and crossed for a relatively easy shot past Martyn. Two short corner drag flicks followed soon after. Unfortunately the flow of goals did not stop there and two more shorts and one more unmarked central forward meant Stortford were 6-0 down within 25 minutes.

Mark Shillito bravely wore a drag flick on the leg after that and Stortford picked themselves up from there and managed to draw the remainder of the game 1-1, happily not conceding another short: this partly by focusing on engaging and tackling the attackers outside the Stortford 25. Mark Whittingdale dropped back and performed brilliantly again marking the big West Herts centre forward very effectively. Joe Hoult built the play sensibly on the right and did father Phil on the left. Adrian Krishman moved further into the pocket and directed play. Nick Slowe, Martin Gay and Matt Brown were industrious up front and Stortford were very much in the game scoring from one of several opportunities as Slowe followed up alertly on the keeper's pads. Last mention goes to Kyle Plumridge who made many good tackles and help Stortford to turn over the ball and take the game to West Herts. Frustratingly, West Herts did manage one more goal as Stortford once allowed an unmarked West Herts player high up the pitch

However, it could have been a lot worse had Stortford given up after 25 minutes.




The 5s had to battle in the first half to gather their rhythm and adjust to a new striking combination which meant the first half was scratchy, with Nick Slowe elavated to the 4s we were having to look up to see where they were. Stortford had the majority of the possession in the first 15 minutes it looked good until Luton with some strong and quick forwards managed to break out and score the first goal. After this we looked uncertain and Luton with their tails up pressured much harder and Ronnie Stott was called on several times to make important saves. A fine break lead to a Chris Slack goal before half time to level the score.

Quickly after half time Bishops Stortford bagged another goal and that seemed to sap the Luton confidence whereas the blues started to play with authority and control. With three goals in the second half (Slack, Farrant and Brocks) to the Luton 1 ,a freak run away goal that left everyone scratching their heads including the scorer, this left the score at the end as 4-2.




A second-half comeback wasn't enough for the Mighty 6's this week as they saw their first defeat of 2015.
Perhaps the portents were already there, a closure of the A1 meant that even the journey to Sandy was frought with difficulty, and last minute drop-outs meant that the 6's had a but a mere squad of 12 (with little of the youth element that have joined them in recent weeks). Therefore it was with some trepidation that the 6th team faced up to their more youthful rivals.
The first half was best forgotten. Stortford lacked structure in the mid-field and left themselves far too open to their opposition’s hit and hope style of play. With nothing to stop Shefford in the centre of the pitch, Stortford’s defence were overloaded. With much of the play confined to their own half, it was a tough opening 35 minutes, leading to the 6’s trailing 3-0 at halftime. This certainly wasn’t going to plan, however a lot can change in 35 minutes.
After a few minutes respite to regroup and talk tactics, a revitalised Stortford came back onto the pitch. With Shefford caught unaware, a neat pass up pitch from Captain Duncan Laws found the forwards and was neatly converted by Graham Perry. Then, minutes later another nice run resulted in a goal from James Nash at the back post.
With the home side beginning to look rattled and a rising confidence in the visitors, this was certainly a dramatic turn in what was looking to be a Cinderella story of a second half. A third goal, and a second from an on-form Graham Perry, was enough to bring Stortford level and suddenly the 6’s were back in the game.
As any fan of the sports film genre will know, there are only two sorts of endings to this story. In this instance, Storford followed the “Rocky” route. Fighting to the last, the 6’s were unlucky not to pull off the final goal that would have sealed victory via some unfortunate hat-trick avoidance by Graham Perry. The home side however found fortune in their favour and managed to pull back one of their own. With not enough time to mount another sortie, the game finished at 4-3 for the 6’s. A disappointment then, but not a massacre.
Overall, there is a lot the team can feel proud about, from their second half performance at least. As the season draws to a close the team are going to need to maintain their structure if they want to stop making their games harder than required. The quality is still there, they just need to work on the consistency.
In terms of performances this week, Sam Taylor made a huge difference on the attacks, coupled with great finishes from Graham Perry and James Nash. Across the midfield there were good attacking performances from Simon Radbourne and David Cooper, and a welcome return from Phil Rowley after a slightly rusty first half. And in defence, Ross Howarth, Rob Gill and Andrew Hewins did their best under a tough onslaught.
Man of the match this week was Nigel Taylor, with a sterling performance in midfield. However this would be closely followed by another great Jon Jackson performance in goal, without which the score line could have been very different


Ladies 035s LOST 2-3 vs Ben Rhydding




A pulsating cup game saw two very contrasting styles clash at Hockerill College. Gymkhana took full advantage of a sleepy start by Stortford as they won an early short by skilfully dribbling into the D and finding the foot. However, an off the ball incident on Colcough galvanised Stortford into action. Vernon Brown scored an early equaliser as the counter-attacking combinations of Tomlin, Colclough and Vernon ripped apart the slow IG defence. The goals soon flowed as Colclough, Tomlin and Cuz Brown soon put Stortford into a 4-1 lead based on fastbreaks. The theme of the match continued with IG drag-flicking a penalty corner on the cusp of half-time.
Stortford started the second-half with another V Brown goal. However, the 'ghost of Masters' Cup tie past' was sweeping in on Stortford as IG came back to get the game back to 5-4 from a flick conceded by a flailing Robarts. Fortunately, Colclough and Brown scored a few more as IG's self-discipline imploded after a yellow and a red card were awarded following more off-the-ball incidents.
Good day's hockey and thanks to all who watched.
Let's hope for a favourable geographic draw next time out.

David Butcher