All the news, results and photos from a packed weekend of fixtures.
Ladies 1’s v Cambridge City 2’s
Stortford Ladies maintained their six point lead at the top of the Premier Division but needed to be at their best to secure their twelfth victory from fourteen games. Manager Mark Surridge was delighted with the victory, ‘We knew we had a real fight on our hands from the off against a very fast and skilful Cambridge side as we found ourselves trading punches in a frenetic opening with both sides creating and missing early chances. But we grew into the game and once we found our feet we played superbly ourselves.
‘We continue to improve throughout the season and in this very competitive game our title chasing credentials were given a severe examination.
‘It was a tough game but we showed great presence on the ball, and great physicality in an energy-sapping contest, and once we took the lead our game management was excellent. We scored both our goals with fast fluent counter attacking hockey and finished strongly.
‘Our ‘keeper Ali Martyn was on her best form and was repeatedly called into action as the young and fast Cambridge forwards were rampant throughout.
‘So many times this season our razor sharp centre forward, Abbie Barrett, produced a terrific finish after a flowing move set up by the hard working Kate Robson. Barrett, the league’s leading goal scorer, continued to harass the Cambridge defence ably supported by Livvy Smerdon and the irrepressible Sally Powell, deservedly awarded ‘player of the day’ for another outstanding display, and her brilliant goal, that secured all three points.
‘We were really under the cosh for large periods of the game so keeping a clean sheet was particularly pleasing. The back four were calm under pressure and assured in possession, and once again superbly marshalled by Lexi Guthrie.
The team has an exciting blend of youth and experience and our youngest player, Pearl Mason-Smith showed her versatility playing in three or four different roles in an exciting fast changing game.’
Ladies Captain, Charlie Leonard, was also in the thick of the action producing her best form of the season, and she paid tribute to the team’s resilience, ‘ we have worked very hard in training and we play a high pressing game that requires a great deal of fitness and stamina, and I was really proud of the tremendous performance last Saturday.’
Men’s 1’s v Bedford 2’s
Bishop’s Stortford Mens 1XI continued their winning ways with a convincing win against Bedford. The tone was set early in the game when Tom Frenzel found a foot in the D for an early corner. The Nags Head man of the match Jack Wheaton’s drag flick from the resulting corner found a foot on the line resulting in a stroke being awarded that Wheaton confidently dispatched to give an early lead. Stortford continued to pile on the pressure and Frenzel again found the foot of the Bedford defenders resulting in another corner which Wheaton scored with a low flick. This gave Stortford confidence and another attack resulted in another Bedford foot in the D and another goal for Wheaton to complete a first half hat-trick.
This woke Bedford up and they started to exert some pressure on the Stortford backline and they scored a corner of their own which Cruwys could do nothing to stop it. The goal gave Bedford some momentum but their attacks were handled by Owen and Morgan.
Bedford started the second half with a real threat, a loose pass out the back fell to the Bedford striker giving them a golden chance to get back into the game. But a combination of Cruwys and Morgan cleared the ball to safety. An unfortunate coming together of 2 players left Harry Carpenter needing medical treatment and a much needed break for Stortford as Bedford continued to mount pressure on their goal. Keen to learn from past experience Stortford came back out with attacking intent with Paul Round going on a run up the pitch before finding Kier Ansell on the baseline to cross the ball for veteran Craig Smith to tap in on the far post.
With Bedford heads starting to drop this gave Stortford more room up front and some good work from Butler winning another corner for Wheaton to grab his 4th of the game. With the game won Stortford relaxed and conceded another goal from a well worked corner on full time to make the score 5-2. Coach Sam Ecott said after the game “It was great to get back to back wins and keep the pressure on the teams at the top of the table. We controlled the game well and showed our ability to score from set plays.”
Ladies 2’s v Bedford 3’s
Stortford suffered a setback in their promotion hopes with a narrow defeat to fellow promotion rivals Bedford.
The game was played at a frantic pace, with the ball moving from end to end. Bedford went ahead first, overloading the Stortford defence with their pace and firing home. Their lead was short-lived as Stortford equalised with a well-executed penalty corner routine straight from the training pitch, the Swanny special, from Anna ‘Swanny’ Sydes. Stortford then took the lead with a flowing move finished off by Jen Pearce. Again the advantage didn’t last long, with Bedford breaking through Stortford defences to bring the scores level at 2-2 going into halftime.
With a vital 3 points up for grabs, both teams pressed hard in the second half looking for a winner. Tireless work from players of the match Lottie Lynch and Michelle Titcombe-Rogers saw Stortford with some great opportunities in front of goal, coming agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock. Stortford’s defence was kept busy, with several goal-line clearances keeping Bedford at bay. With just 10 minutes remaining Stortford were unlucky to concede a penalty corner, a powerful strike finding it’s a way through to take the lead. Stortford were determined to get something from the game and pressed hard in the final minutes, Bedford were forced to commit fouls to break down the constant attacks. This led to a Stortford penalty corner as the final whistle blew, unfortunately, they were unable to convert and the match ended 3-2 to Bedford.
Men’s 2’s v Bedford 3’s
Bishop Stortford Hockey Club 2 nd XI’s push for promotion continued to gain momentum after another victory on Saturday against Bedford.
The 2’s have returned from the Christmas break looking reinvigorated and refreshed and looked to build on the impressive demolition last week of their 3rd XI rivals with a follow-up win against Bedford, a side against whom they had dropped points in the season’s reverse fixture.
It was the hosts who started the game the strongest, moving the ball around with purpose and testing the visitors’ steadfast defence as they searched for an early lead.
It wasn’t long before Stortford had their reward, retaining possession effectively and probing the Bedford D with increasing intensity. They eventually forced a mistake from the harried Bedford defence, forward John Taylor profiting with ice-cold assurance to give the hosts a deserved opener.
From then on, Stortford looked in control, dominating possession and looking the sharper side, soon doubling their lead when the ever-dangerous Dave Roberts slotted home to give a strong Bedford side increasing cause for concern.
The visitors were far from out of it, however, rallying to sucker punch Stortford with two quickfire goals, profiting from a direct aerial assault and tying the game up at 2-2 as the teams broke for half time.
Cool heads win championships, however, and in a game that saw its fair share of cards dished out to both sides, Stortford managed to regain their composure. An excellent deflected finish from Dave Roberts allowed them to retake the lead before John Taylor added to his fine earlier effort to give his side a well-deserved cushion. Despite the slight impediment of having no working floodlights for ten minutes, the hosts dealt with the interruption in play with the calmness of a side gaining belief from every victory, each player working tirelessly to close out a vital 4-2 win.
Stortford are currently riding high in the league as they continue to press for promotion. All eyes look to a tricky away clash at Broxbourne this Saturday in what could be a momentous fixture in deciding this year’s nail-biting title race.
Ladies 3’s v Potters Bar 1’s
The L3s enjoyed dominance throughout their game against Potters Bar this week, starting brightly and maintaining pressure on the attack. It wasn’t long before they started creating chances, both in open play and winning lots of short corners. It didn’t take long until the Stortford ladies took the lead, with Charlotte Smith capitalising on an excellent cross. Further goals in the first half were scored by Elizabeth Reay, Lydia Seleska and Vicky Cox. Going into half time at 4-0 up they didn’t show any signs of complacency in the second half, with Reay scoring two more in the second half to put the final tally at 6-0.
Men’s 3’s V Blueharts
The 3rd team travelled to Blueharts for a Saturday morning game, with only 1 league place separating the two sides. Stortford 3s started very strongly, dominating possession, however struggled to convert their chances. Strong link play between Oakley and Carr down the left-hand side resulted in finding Mike Taylor at the top of the D, who struck a powerful shot to beat the keeper and take a one-nil lead.
Stortford were disappointed to go into half time with just a one-goal advantage. Unfortunately, it was the cliche of a game of two halves, and Blueharts started the second half strongly pressing high, not allowing our defence to clear their lines. Blueharts had a flurry of short corners, and despite some terrific saves from Martyn to keep out their first efforts, the Bluehart forward pounced on a rebound and converted to make the scoreline 1-1. The pressure continued, and Blueharts scored a scrappy goal not long after. As Stortford tried to press forward to find the equalising goal, Blueharts stole the ball on the halfway line and a counter-attack led to a third second-half goal. Final score, 3-1.
Ladies Archdeaconesses v Blueharts 3’s
A hard fought game and a gutsy performance against this higher placed team in the league.
Blueharts started strong, scoring some early goals but soon found themselves in a tough game as Stortford found their feet and got used to the pitch.
The scoreline could easily have been very different if we had taken our chances. Special mention to goalkeeper Lori Morrison making a fantastic save from a penalty stroke in the second half to keep the score at 3-0.
Men’s 4’s v Bedford 5’s
A convincing 5-1 win for Stortford 4s and a rare win at Bedford. Stortford started well and managed to cut through the Bedford defence with some good passing and pace from the forwards. However, it was only when Alex Kings came off the bench that Stortford took the lead. Kings scored first when put through, slotting past the advancing keeper, and then again from close range after working his way down the right bye line. Stortford could have had more in the first half but instead conceded just before halftime after a period of sloppy play.
The second half was 2-1 for a long period but eventually Stortford’s superiority showed with goals in the last 15 minutes from Vernon Brown, Paul Tomlin and Vernon Brown again to secure a well-merited win.
Ladies 5’s/Men’s 5’s both CANCELLED (Men’s 5’s 5-0 walkover)
Ladies Acolytes v Witham 3’s
The Acolytes continued their unbeaten season with an away win against fourth-placed side Witham on Saturday to stay top of the table.
In the sunny, cold weather they began the match. In the first half, the Acolytes had more possession and were camped out in the oppositions half. The forwards and midfielders worked tirelessly, keeping up the pressure on the Witham goal, with Jo Sullivan netting twice and Mel Dummett making it 3-0 going into the break. The Acolytes kept up the relentless pressure in the second half, Charlie Woodrow unlucky not to make the scoresheet. The fourth and final goal came from Dummett with her second of the game. Player of the match Jo Sullivan.
Men’s 6’s v Hertford 6’s
A solid 4-1 win at Hertford took the Mens 6s to the top of the Div 8SW table. A strong Stortford press in the first 35 minutes kept most of the play in the Hertford half, but with not enough shots on goal, the score at halftime was 0-0. Early in the second half, the scoring started with Joe Clune scoring from a short corner, followed quickly by Chris Bromham making it two. Hertford pushed further forward in response and opened up the game, scoring to get it back to 2-1. Stortford continued to threaten, in particular at shorts, but Hertford had their chances too with David Butcher putting in a player of the match performance with some great saves. Then David Tilman secured Stortford’s third goal before Haitel Patel capped off a brilliant energetic performance by scoring the fourth.
Ladies 7’s v Blueharts 7’s
Stortford piled on the pressure from the whistle with a succession of early chances, Caz Greenall getting the early breakthrough with excellent first goal. The midfields and forwards ran tirelessly but Blueharts defence frustrated Stortford with some resolute defending, keeping them at bay for most of the match. Finally in the second half Alice Taylor broke through the defence to score a great goal making the final score 2:0. Player of the match was Alice Taylor.