All the reports from a busy weekend, with crucial matches in some of the promotion races. Ladies 6’s the next team to be guaranteed promotion, following on from the 7’s last week

Ladies 1’s | Ladies 2’s | Ladies 3’s | Ladies Archdeaconesses (4’s) | Ladies 5’s | Ladies Acolytes (6’s) | Ladies 7’s | Ladies Curates
Men’s 1’s | Men’s 2’s | Men’s 3′s | Men’s 4’s | Men’s 5’s | Men’s 6’s

Ladies 1’s v Norwich City 1’s – East Premier League
4 – 2 W (Away)

Four goals in eight minutes as table-topping Stortford recover their Mojo

Despite going a goal behind early in the game Stortford recovered their composure and played some scintillating hockey, particularly either side of half time, emerging victorious from this top of the table clash in Norwich last Saturday.

‘That was our easily our best performance of the season,’ said Manager Mark Surridge, ‘because we showed we can dig deep and draw on a tried and tested game plan that has been well honed by Coach Nick Prowse. The team showed despite the early setback and applying relentless pressure we could dominate the game and win in devastating manner.’

Driven on by the tireless efforts of Katie Richards at centre half Stortford first gained control in midfield and then laid siege to the Norwich goal, but despite intense pressure there were no goals with Sally Powell twice denied at the far past.

The game changed dramatically either side of half time, both Stortford goals scored by arch-predator Abbie Barrett, who now has 27 for the season. First Pearl Mason-Smith came off the bench, making a telling contribution with an incisive pass slicing open the Norwich defence for Barrett to pounce, rounding the keeper and firing home levelling the scores at half time. Then from the push back Stortford forced a short corner and from a cleverly worked routine a deft pass from Richards found Barrett in space and she scored from close range.

Norwich were on the ropes and Stortford went into overdrive with an inspirational display from the mercurial Sally Powell, only on the pitch after last minute rearrangements to her flight ensuring she could play in this top of the table clash. On the counter attack Powell’s speed and close touch were creating havoc in the Norwich defence and she scored the third and then laid on the fourth for Livvy Smerdon, as the visitors ran riot scoring four goals in a mesmerising eight minutes spell.

Second in the table Norwich City were not finished and came back strongly with a well taken second goal, then during a spell of sustained pressure first Lexi Guthrie cleared a shot off the line, and then Ali Martyn had to be at her best making an incredible save stretching high to her right to foil the dangerous Norwich forwards. 

Understandably elated with his team’s performance Surridge said, ‘We were at our very best on the day channelling our energies really well, sticking to our game plan and reaping our just reward with four great goals playing some wonderful hockey.’

Men’s 1’s v Chelmsford – East Div 1 South
4 -3 win (away)

Your archetypal banana skin fixture. A local rival, languishing at the foot of the table, and to cap it off, they turned up with only 10 players.

On paper, a simple win for Stortford, but things are never that simple!

Despite dominating the opening exchanges of the match, it was the hosts that opened the scoring. A Stortford attack was expertly countered by Chelmsford, to give them an unexpected, and undeserved lead.

For much of the half, Stortford huffed and puffed, and chances that should have been converted, were not. 

Just before half time, Adam Farley picked the ball up just outside the 25, and decided there had been enough intricate play. Spotting the run of Ali Charlton he drove the ball into the D, to be expertly diverted home by Charlton.

Half time offered a chance for Stortford to stop and reset, and to their credit they started the second half much brighter.

More chances fell to Stortford, but robust short corner defence on behalf of Chelmsford kept the score at 1-1. 

15 minutes into the second half and Stortford got their noses in front. A long corner was drilled into the D by Wheaton, and the ball was deflected high into the air. Paul Round found himself in the right place at the right time to “slam dunk” a finish in from above his head to make it 2-1.

Unfortunately, the lead was short-lived. In the next passage of play Chelmsford managed to squirt the ball under keeper Simon Martyn, to bring us back to 2-2.

The game became more fragmented at this point, with long periods of Stortford dominance being punctuated by opportunistic Chelmsford counter’s.

Two quick goals, one from Jack Wheaton off a short corner, and a second from Charlton (assisted fantastically from Craig Smith) gave Stortford breathing space, only to see Chelmsford pull another counter attacking goal back.

With minutes to go, Stortford made their numbers count, and held onto the ball efficiently to run the clock down.

They made it more difficult that it should have been, but another 3 points for Stortford leaves them looking up the table!

Ladies 2’s v Berkhampsted and Hemel 1’s – East Div 2 SW
2 -2

Stortford came back from two goals down to take a point against Berkhamsted and Hemel.

Both teams traded early blows, Berkhamsted coming close from a corner before pouncing on a loose ball to fire home under the keeper from close range. They doubled their lead minutes later, through on goal they unleashed a shot from a wide angle that found it’s way in. Stortford pulled one back before the break, another thunderbolt from Captain Emma Hynds from a short corner, the defender, despite getting her stick to it, unable to deal with the pace and the ball deflecting in.

Stortford came out for the second half knowing they were still in the game, both teams having their share of possession. The Stortford defence were kept busy, with player of the match Grace Grindrod making some crucial tackles to keep the visitors from increasing their lead. Stortford were grateful for all that short corner practice, as with around 10 minutes remaining, another well executed routine saw Suzanne Holmes fire home the equaliser and grab a point.

Men’s 2’s v Blueharts- East Div 3SW
2 -0 Win (away)

BSHC looked to build upon their position at the top of the league table and capitalise on recent losses to their nearest team in 2nd with an away trip to Hitchin. This late evening fixture in a cold, wet and windy Hitchin presented a potential banana skin for the visitors, but the squad rose to the task at hand.

Stortford were quick out of the blocks, putting pressure on the Blueharts backline and forcing turnovers. The defence controlled any attempts to get down the pitch and moved the ball at pace to open spaces for the midfield and forwards. It wasn’t long before the strong play paid dividends with Ross Butler expertly converting a corner with a pinpoint reverse stick strike.

It was more of the same from then on. Excellent ball pace from the backs allowed Harry Bannister to create space down the right and open-up multiple options for attack, in a confident and assured performance from the right back. One of these attacks found Harry McKerrell in the ‘D’, with some expert stickwork and determination he found Ross Butler in space, who obliged by smashing his second goal with a rocket into the top of the net.

Stortford dominated from then on, with pinpoint passing from Alex Hall, Alex Kirton and Jimmy Marsom allowing the team to play a lot of hockey in the opposition half. Seemingly endless pressure from the forwards in the press, particularly from Elliot C-J and Harry M, defeated the home team’s ability to mount anything more than some speculative balls. Eventually one or two pinballed their way to a Blueharts striker, but Ollie Foot in goal kept his focus with some expert saves to crush any hope they had of sneaking a goal.

Despite the continuing pressure, and some eye-catching skills from Tommy Williams searching for more, Stortford didn’t add to their tally. The final whistle came with the news that the second-place team lost (see below), the Mens 2s are opening-up a lead at the top of the table and will to extend this over the next few weeks.

Ladies 3’s v Blueharts 4’s – East Div 3SW
2 -1 Win (Away)

A great win for the ladies 3’s beating Blueharts 2-1. All remained in deadlock for the first 10 mins until some great interplay down the right hand side between Jemma Petitt & Lizzie Motson let loose debutant Malli Came. Running aggressively along the baseline, pulling the ball back with a perfect pass to  Jen Pearce who was waiting on the penalty spot to pounce. A superb finish from Pearce to put Stortford up 1-0. In the 2nd half Blueharts came out hard and within the first 10 minutes to go they managed to grab an equaliser. Player of the match Alex Back produced the game of her life to keep Blueharts at bay, executing some fabulous saves in goal. With only minutes to go Darcy Edwards broke and sent a beautiful ball through to Jen Pearce who hammered it home for her second and to give Stortford the win. 

Men’s 3’s v Hertford 2’s – East Div 3SW
5-2 Win (Home)

The 3rd team came into the match feeling confident on the back of two wins, however knew it would be a tough test against Hertford 2s who are 2nd in the table. Despite Stortford starting quickly and applying the pressure early, Hertford turned the ball over for a counter attack and scored within the first 2 minutes. Five minutes later, Hertford again found their skilful centre forward at the top of the D, who made it 2-0 to Hertford. Stortford kept their composure and tightened up in defence, and dominated possession for the next 20 minutes, coming close to scoring on a number of occasions. Finally on the back of some good skill from David Roberts at the top of the D, the ball fell to Bruce Rodda who fired the ball past the keeper on his reverse to make it 2-1. Not long after, Rodda again proved instrumental in attack, finding Mike Landolt who calmly dinked it over a diving keeper on his reverse to make it 2-2. Stortford were pleased going into half time 2-2 after conceding 2 goals early on, but knew that after dominating large parts of possession, that this game was for the taking. 

The second half started exactly how the first half finished, with Stortford starting on the front foot. Good link play from Jake Anders and Roberts resulted in a Hertford foot, leading to a short corner. After an initial save, Gregg Pettit reacted first to the rebound to find Landolt, who lifted it over the keeper for his second of the game and a 3-2 lead. Roberts added a fourth soon after, and a fifth followed after Henry Carr reacted to a rebound, and managed to find the bottom corner despite being taken out by the keeper. Despite having a healthy lead, Stortford continued to apply pressure. A build up play which used almost every player on the pitch, found Miles Tanner at the top of the D, who laid it off to Rodda who found Pike in space, who hit a near perfect reverse heading in the top corner, before an unbelievable save from the Hertford keeper to deny Pike arguably the goal of the season for the 3rd team. A great performance to score 5 goals and to secure the win against a strong Hertford side. A special mention should also go to Adam Champion and Luke Fishpool, who were solid in defence and managed to keep a good centre forward completely out of the game after the first 10 minutes. 

Final score, Stortford 3s 5 Hertford 2s 2. 

Ladies Archdeaconesses v Saffron Walden 2’s – East Div 3SW
0 – 3 Loss (Home)

A tough game was made even tougher when the team lost Lori McLeish early in the match with a stick to the face, requiring a trip to A&E for stitches,

Stortford worked hard but struggled to find a way through with Saffron Walden taking the lead in the first half.

Stortford pushed hard for an equaliser in the second half, but chances weren’t going their way. Saffron Walden were able to score 2 more to take the win.

Men’s 4’s v Southgate 4A – East Div 4SW
3 – 2 Win (home)

A nice win for the 4s over mid-table Southgate 4A.  Stortford started slowly and conceded after around 10 minutes following a penalty corner.  Stortford then slowly but surely gained control of the midfield.  They equalised though a composed finish from Ollie Hartnell after Mike Taylor had robbed a Southgate defender and Stortford’s forwards had further success pressing the Southgate defenders.  1-1 at halftime. 

After half time Stortford continued to control the game and took the lead through a neat Mike Taylor finish.  Stortford had the better of a decent Southgate side through the second half and added some breathing space with another goal from Taylor, this time a very powerful penalty corner strike. 

Stortford should have played the game out with ease but made things less straightforward by allowing Southgate a three on one with a minute to go which they converted well. Stortford did not make the same mistake again and secured a deserved win. 

Ladies 5’s v Stevenage – East Div 5SW
1 -1 (Home)

An early goal 10 minutes in from a short corner, nicely put in at the post by Emily Wood, giving Stortford an early lead. Unfortunately, just minutes into the second half Stevenage managed to grab an equaliser. Stortford had numerous chances and came agonisingly close to scoring but weren’t able to find a way through, with the match ending 1-1. Player of the match again went to Eryn Foote after another strong defensive performance.

Men’s 5’s v West Herts

Ladies Acolytes (6’s) v Southend Benfleet – East Div 6SE
5 – 0 win (away)

Credit | Alan Radley

The Acolytes guaranteed themselves a promotion spot after a 5-0 win away at Southend and Benfleet.

After a sluggish start and a lot of attacking play by Southend & Benfleet 4 for the first 20mins, the Acolytes’s began to find their form and the momentum began to shift. After a succession of short corners, Charlie Woodrow made the breakthrough the Acolytes needed, finishing the goal off beautifully from the post, giving them a bosst heading into the break.

The Acolytes started the second half determined to add to their tally, enjoying long spells of possession in Southend Benfleets half. The hosts defended well but the Acolytes were clinical from their short corners and attack, netting four goals in the second half. Despite the scoreline, Southend Benfleet didn’t let their heads go down and kept the Acolytes defence on their toes but were unable to make a breakthrough. Goal scorers were:- Charlie Woodrow, Mel Dummett, Jo Hall, Yolande Notley and Kate Barham. 

Player of the match was Gemma Leach.

Men’s 6’s v Southgate Tankards – East Div 8SW
3 -0 Win (Away)

Bishops Stortford Men’s 6s continued their battle for supremacy at the top of East League Division 8SW with an away game against Southgate Tankards. Due to roadworks and traffic congestion across Hertfordshire, they could only field eight players on the field at pushback time with late arrivals joining when they could. After 10 minutes, Stortford had increased their strength to 10 players and managed to go one nil up through a combination of excellent teamwork and a great goal finish by player of the match, Ossie Bannister. Once the Mens 6s reached a full complement of 11 players, they dominated their Southgate opponents thanks to good passing and pressing. This domination was maintained throughout the second half with James Nash adding a further two goals among many other team chances. Full time score was 3 nil to Stortford, providing a useful win and three points ahead of a crucial league match against Southgate Adelaide M3s next week.

Ladies 7’s v Chiltern 2’s – East Div 7 South West
7 – 1 Win (Away)

Another fantastic away performance from the Ladies 7s with a 7-1 win against Chiltern Ladies 2s.  Travelling with the bare 11, their plan was to play a passing game, aiming to conserve energy.  Caz Greenall scored the first goal just 8 minutes into the game, followed shortly after by Emma Jayme and a third from debutant Chloe Allmark. Stortford were totally dominating the game and were 3-0 up at half time, some great passing around the Chiltern team leaving them struggling to win and keep the ball. .

Just minutes into the 2nd half came Greenall’s second, the home team hit back soon after, converting a rare short corner. Just minutes later Stortford scored again from Alison Chadwick at 49 minutes, followed by another from Caz Greenall to complete her hat trick. Not content with the three goals, she added a fourth just two minutes later.

Player of the match was shared by Chloe Allmark who had a fantastic debut performance, and Caz Greenall for a huge crop of 4 goals.  

Ladies Curates (8’s) v Broxbourne 5’s – East Div 7SW
0-8 Loss (Home)