Round up of all the weekend action, including a win for the Ladies 1’s that puts them four points clear, Jack Wheaton and friends putting seven past Waltham Forest, and comeback of the day from the Men’s 5’s.

Ladies: 1 | 2 | 3 | Archdeaconesses | 5 | Acolytes | 7
Men: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Ladies 1’s v Cambridge University – East Premier League
3 – 2 win (home)

Player of the match Liz Egan

Stortford Ladies’ tense victory over Cambridge University 3-2

Title chasing Bishop’s Stortford were given a fright by the fast and skillful Cambridge University side who dominated possession early on and remained an attacking force throughout the game. Coach Nick Prowse, “We were under the cosh for the first 15 minutes and it was no surprise when the students took the lead with a very well taken goal. After that setback, our girls had to dig deep and show the resilience necessary to claw our way back into a game that could easily have slipped from our control.’ 

Stortford equalised when Charlie Leonard found herself free at the far post for a tap in after a smart move down the left flank involving Kate Robinson and Livvy Smerdon. Then just before half time, and against the run of play, Stortford increased their lead with the first of two well rehearsed short corner routines, as Abbie Barrett scored from a Lexi Guthrie pass.

The second half was similar to the first with the students enjoying plenty of possession and looking fast, direct and dangerous, and they drew level at 2-2 with a short corner of their own. This galvanised the home side who went all out looking for a winning goal to keep their promotion hopes alive, and Barrett was again quickest to react deflecting a shot from Katie Richards high into the net.

‘It was a gritty performance,’ said Prowse, ‘this was our fifth hard-fought victory by this same scoreline.’ Stortford maintained their slender advantage thanks to Ali Martyn in the Stortford goal, the busier of the two keepers, making several important saves, and defenders Liz Egan and Pearl Mason-Smith also making timely interventions, with Guthrie for the third week running taking a shot off the line as Cambridge pressed hard for an equaliser.

Thanks to Norwich and Harleston Magpies playing out a draw a victory next Saturday in Peterborough would see Stortford crowned champions.

Men’s 1s v Waltham Forest– East Div 1 South
7 – 0 win (Home)

Bishops Stortford 1s (aka Jack Wheaton and friends) had a convincing home win against mid table Waltham Forrest. After last weeks scrappy win, the team were looking to bounce back with a win.

Without Coach Ecott and veteran Craig Smith, Stortford started the game with a high tempo, which lead to Wheaton’s first goal of the game. Jack scored again and then again, a first half hat-trick for Wheaton, 3-0 at half time.

Unfortunately for Waltham Forrest, the flood gates were well and truly open. Stortford maintained the pressure leading to a flick being awarded. Wheaton stepped up to take it and scored again. After some great build up play, Adam Farley got the ball just outside the D, and to everyone’s surprise he passed the ball into the path of Ali Charlton for a lovely deflection goal. The pressure remained, leading to yet again another short corner, and yet another Wheaton goal, his fifth of the game. With Waltham’s heads well and truly down, Stortford weren’t done. Tom Frenzel had a shot saved by the keeper which Jon Taylor fastest to the rebound to put the ball in the back of the net for Stortfords seventh

Ladies 2’s v Blueharts 2’s – East Division 2 South West
5 – 1 W (Away)

Stortford put their recent run of draws behind them with an emphatic 5-1 win away at Blueharts.

Forced into several changes, it was a much different looking Stortford, including a debut appearance for Mallie Came, joining sister Thea in the side. On an unpredictable pitch, Stortford went ahead in the first 10 minutes, a shot from a tight angle from a delighted Michelle Titcombe Rogers. Blueharts struggled to make much progress in Stortford’s half, sporadic attacks thwarted by the Stortford defence, A second soon followed, when Millie Andrews short corner strike was deflected in by a defender. Blueharts pulled one back just before half time, the inital strike saved by a diving Lianne Warnell, but she could do nothing about the follow up as the forward pounced and lifted the ball over and into the goal.

Blueharts, spurred on by the goal, started the second half brightly, forcing a succession of short corners that Stortford defended well. Titcombe-Rogers made a vital interception, allowing Stortford to break quickly, a pinpoint cross deflected in by Jen Pearce for 3-1. Pearce was on target again to put the game out of reach, before captain Emma Hynds stepped up for another of her trademark short corner goals, rifling the ball into the backboards for 5-1.

With just two games remaining Stortford sit fourth in the table.

Men’s 2’s v Cheshunt – East Div 3SW
5 -0 win (Home).

The Men’s 2’s entered into the game knowing that three points would guarantee their promotion, the only obstacle in their path a Cheshunt team known for hard work and gutsy displays. On paper the 2’s had the quality to get the result but that didn’t offer any guarantees.

The home side started brightly and on the front foot, dominating the opening exchanges and immediately putting pressure on the away defence. That early dominance didn’t immediately translate into goals however and as advertised Cheshunt worked hard to stymy Stortford while generating some chances of their own at the other end. An injured Jim Hickman was more than up to the challenge though, ably protected by a wall like defensive pairing of Steve Price and Nick Prowse. That allowed Stortford to continue to press forwards and put pressure on the Cheshunt defence, pressure that eventually resulted in an opening goal courtesy of Elliott Copping Jones who made an incisive movement into the D with the ball and then fired a tomahawk into the corner of the goal.

With the deadlock broken and knowing there were more goals to come, Stortford pressed forwards. Midfield maestro Jeff Dummett kept the ball moving and dictated the tempo of the game while Ross Butler, Harry Mckerrell and Fred Cooke utilised unrelenting movement to run the defence ragged. A second goal came shortly afterwards, a Stortford short corner seeing a deliberate slow ball from Ross Butler being deflected in by Jeff Dummett. A short while later there was a third as a loose ball falling to Captain Fred Cooke who fired into the net to make it 2-0, a deserved reward for his dedication to the role this year.

At the stroke of half time a short corner was then awarded to Stortford. Alex Kirton had a true Homer Simpson “Doh” moment by controlling a Jeff Dummett flick that had been sent goal wards, denying the vice-captain his second. Determined to make up for the blunder, Kirton turned and sent the ball across the goal where young Harry Bannister had the last word, tapping in at the back post to mark his first goal of what has been a very fine debut season with the 2XI.

A brief half time team talk was boiled down to “let’s keep doing what we’re doing” and that’s what Stortford did. Continuing to turn the screws on a Cheshunt team that were rapidly becoming demoralised and exhausted, the game’s quality could have dropped but instead it remained high with both sides maintaining a gruelling work rate and putting in maximum effort across the board. For all their dominance though, it proved difficult for the home side to translate their dominance into more goals until Harry Mckerrell took his reward for another fine and hard working performance by receiving the ball close to the goal and subtly slinging it into the bottom left corner of the goal. Cheshunt managed to hold out for the rest of the game, resisting wave after wave of attack until the final whistle finally blew to give them some respite. Thus ended a wonderful game of hockey, Stortford taking three points and guaranteeing their promotion into Division 2 SW next year. All that’s next is to secure the league victory with 1 further win out of the last two games of the season.

Ladies 3’s v Cheshunt 1’s – East Div 3 South West
2 – 0 W (Home)

The ladies 3xi knew it was going to be a tough battle against Cheshunt this weekend and although they dominated the match it was still 0-0 after about 20 minutes in. Deadlock was broken with a superb strike from Vicky Cox, Jemma Pettit was waiting on the post but Vicky’s shot just crept inside. 1-0 to the home side at half time and after the break player of the match Lizzie Roberts continued to make run after run, creating space and causing Cheshunt problems. The second goal came as the ball was going wide of the post and Lizzie Motson retrieved it beautifully and put it back across the open goal for Vicky Cox to pop it in. With just two games left, the team are still in with an outside chance of taking the second promotion spot.

Men’s 3’s v Vauxhall 1’s – East Div 3SW
2 -4 Loss (Away)

Ladies Archdeaconesses (4’s) v Hertford 2’s – East Div 3 South West
2– 0 Win (Away)

On a hot sunny afternoon Bishops Stortford fought hard to take the lead with a superbly struck short corner, Zoe Barford linking up with Pippa Bull, who fired home..

With key defence players missing, Rachael Hickman took control of the defence, keeping Hertford at bay.

The second half saw Bishops Stortford attack from the off, put in Hertford on the back foot and earning a penalty flick within the first five minutes. The flick was superbly converted by Pippa bull for her brace of goals.  The game was heartfelt with Hertford still pressing however Loti Morrison in goal managed a clean sheet.

Men’s 4’s v Letchworth 3’s – East Div 4 SW
6 -1 L (Away)

Stortford 4s knew that table-topping Letchworth 3s would be a tough prospect on their own surface.  Armed with two top father-and-son units in David and Alex Wilde and Dan and Oli Leonard, Stortford started the game well and probably had the lion’s share of the D penetrations in the first half of the game.   However, Letchworth showed that they could score goals on their attacks, benefitting from a couple of errors in the Stortford defence.  They finished the half 3-1 up.  Stortford scored their goal as David Wilde finished one goal mouth scramble with a composed flick in to the net.

The balance of the game changed in the second half with more Letchworth pressure as Stortford perhaps started to tire.  Stortford still had their moments though with Dan Leonard pulling some strings in midfield and Richard Temple and Alex Wilde running strongly up front.  The Letchworth pressure inevitably lead to goals.  Again the Stortford defence was not happy about their part in conceding the goals but there was good work at other times to restrict Letchworth and some fine saves from keeper David Butcher.

Ladies 5’s v Bedford 5’s– East Division 5 South West
0 – 7 Loss (away)

Ladies 5s had a tough away fixture at league leaders Bedford 5s, Stortford were unfortunately unable to cause any upsets and Bedford came away 7-0 winners. Despite this there were strong performances particularly from Laura Mcbride and Georgie Parsons.

Men’s 5’s v Bedford Vets
8 – 4 win

This will certainly be remembered as one of the best games for the men’s 5s in recent years… After an extremely slow start to the match the men’s 5s found themselves 2-0 down. Bedford vets were outperforming the men’s 5s in every department. However as the whistle blew for halftime the men’s 5s won a penalty-corner. With all 10 outfield players up, Stortford looked to capitalise on the opportunity, which they did! After a well worked routine Chris Bromham was able to calmly slot the ball into the back of the goal halving the deficit.    

In one of the most important games of the season with promotion still to play for the men’s 5s were very disappointed with the first 35 minutes. In simple terms our performance could only get better. However despite lots of early pressure from the men’s 5s Bedford capitalised on a mistake and went into an early 3-1 lead. With less than 30 minutes left what happened next can only be described as incredible. A change in dominance started to occur with Bishop’s Stortford playing like a different team. With grit and determination on display from all involved the 5s decided that if they wanted to be promoted, this result mattered more than anything. With some excellent build up play and not a single dropped head on the pitch the men’s 5s got 5 goals in quick succession racing into a 6-3 lead. 

Bedford were not happy with this turn of events and tried to fight back scoring a flick quickly after Stortford’s 6th making the score 6-4. However, Stortford did not want to walk across the finish line and would in fact sprint home scoring another 2 in the last 5 minutes winning the game 8-4. Second half goals came from Freddy Petar (2) – including a sublime penalty-corner deflection, James Brocks with 2 cracking penalty-corner strikes, Luke Beer, Duncan Laws and Chris Bromham. Normally after going down in a match the men’s 5s would drop their heads and unfortunately lose faith but Saturdays game truly shows a team should never do that. Certainly a game of two halves.

The 5s left everything out on the pitch and after a run of disappointing results this win means they leap frog Southgate into 3rd and sit 1 point off the promotion places with 2 games to play and all left to play for! Despite lots of possible contenders for man of the match this week, it had to go to Freddy Petar for being relentless in attack, showing lots of skill and scoring 2 excellent goals. A special mention also goes to Tim Lucas who padded up and went in goal for us this week making some astonishing saves in the process. 

Acolytes (6’s) v Old Loughtonians– East Div 6 South East
1-0 Loss (Home)

On Saturday the Acolytes played one of the strongest sides in the league, Old Loughts. They were obviously fired up after we beat them on their pitch at the end of last year. We started the first half dominating possession with much of the action happening in the oppositions end. However, despite several short corners, sadly we were unable to convert this dominance. After half time with a team talk and some snacks the Acolytes worked hard as a team making some excellent passes out to the wings by the defence and then driving up the wing. The Old Loughts came back fighting, defended very well and made it hard for balls to enter the D. Sadly with the last play of the game, Old Loughts managed to win a short corner and this lead to them winning the game. The ref’s whistle blew for full time as soon as the ball hit the back of the net. Old Loughts celebrated like they had won the World Cup, which shows just how far Our Team has come this season on its journey.

Our first defeat was hard to take in the circumstances. Although everyone was gutted after losing our first match of the season, we will come back fighting as a team. We have won promotion but devastatingly our unbeaten record has gone. However, we now re-group and re-focus on winning the title and going up as Champions. I’m sure we would have settled for this at the start of the season. 

Player of the match goes to Gemma and Lis, but overall well done to the whole team! “Come on you beautiful creatures” let’s go win the title!

Men’s 6’s v Southgate Adelaide 3’s
3 – 1 win (home)

The Mens 6s penultimate league match of the season was a crunch game against fellow title contenders Southgate Adelaide 3s. Proceedings started late with the opposition arriving at the wrong venue and having to be redirected by the Mens 5s.

When the game finally got under way Stortford were straight on the front foot, pressing, harrying and out passing Southgate, creating an early 1-0 lead through Haitel Patel at a short corner. Play stayed mainly in the Adelaide half with breaks being firmly snuffed out by strong defending. Stortford’s lead was then extended through a well-finished goal by Stanley Gay.

The second half started with a setback as Adelaide pulled a goal back, putting pressure on Stortford to maintain their form and work rate to maintain their lead, but a third goal from Joe Clune ended any risk of Stortford not securing the three points and going four points ahead at the top of the table.

A great team performance with player of the match being David Tilman due to his numerous interceptions and threatening runs and passes.

Ladies 7’s v Broxbourne – FRIENDLY
2 -2 (Away)

The Ladies 7s had a great game this week.  Having already secured first place in the league, 5 of our wonderful upcoming junior players were included in  a ‘friendly’ game against Broxbourne.  The result was a 2-2 draw and our new young players had a great morning out showing us their skills.  Stortford’s Caz Greenall scored the first goal of the game 11 minutes into the match, with Broxbourne equalising before halftime.   The Ladies 7s had a goal disallowed just after halftime and Broxbourne then went ahead mid way through the 2nd half.  The 7s came back with a goal by mid fielder Lillie Egbokhan at 66 minutes, her 1st of the season.