1st Team Match Report vs Solihull Blossomfield

Solihull Blossomfield 3 – 0 Stafford
Men of the match: Ben Hollands & Andy Barnet

Stafford travelled to Solihull Blossomfield for their first game of the season, a place they have come in previous years and won on three consecutive occasions. Unfortunately they couldn’t make it four as an industrious Blossomfield side made Stafford pay for their mistakes.

A new 3-2-3-2 formation and a number of new faces made it a different looking Stafford team and they started reasonably well, having a good share of possession. However, Blossomfield soon got on the ball and got forward in an effective direct style. They won a short corner after Stafford gave the ball away and this was expertly dispatched into the left top corner, beyond goalkeeper Dave Trotter.

Stafford again struggled to keep the ball and it wasn’t long until the Blossomfield attack overloaded Stafford’s defence, breaking into the circle and firing it at the Richard Buka’s feet. Another short corner was this time deflected through Dave Trotter’s legs. 2-0.

After the break, Stafford played some better hockey with passing improving. Ben Hollands worked hard in midfield and Andy Barnet provided some much needed height in yet another new position up-front. It was his running and clever positional play that created some space up-top but Stafford weren’t able to create any clear-cut chances.

As Stafford pushed hard for a goal, they were left exposed on the break and Blossomfield made it 3-0 with a decent break and tidy finish. Stafford kept pushing for a goal but it never came. There is certainly room for improvement but it won’t be getting any easier when they play Coventry Sikh Union at home next Saturday – 1pm start at Beaconside.


End of Season Awards Night

It was a fantastic evening last night as Stafford Hockey Club celebrated the end of season in style. Here are the winners of the awards.

Club Player of the Year: Mike Wymer

Club player of the year, Mike Wymer. Presented by Dennis Wall, Club President.

President’s Award: Dave Parr

President’s Award: Dave Parr for all his work in securing planning permission for a pitch at Riverway. Presented by Dennis Wall, Club President.

President’s Award: John Sinclair

President’s Award: John Sinclair, for all his work over the years as fixtures secretary and running the fathoms. Presented by Dennis Wall, Club President.

Young Player of the Year: Will Trotter

Will was unable to attend the evening.

1st Team Player of the Year: Ed Handley

1st team player of the year: Ed Handley. Presented by Andy Barnett, 1st team vice-captain.

2nd Team Player of the Year: Jack Hodkinson

2nd team player of the year: Jack Hodkinson. Presented by 2nd team vice-captain, Mike Wymer.

3rd Team Player of the Year: Paul Taylor-Grime

3rd team player of the year: Paul Taylor-Grime. Presented by Steve Paling, 3rd team captain.

4th Team Player of the Year: Josh Williams

4th team player of the year: Josh Williams. Presented by Jack Fudger and Rikki Deller, 4th team captain and vice-captain.

5th Team Player of the Year: Tom Deakin

5th team player of the year: Tom Deakin. Presented by Gary Varga, 5th team captain.

Fathoms Player of the Year: Joe Mullor

Fathoms player of the year: Joe Mullor. Presented by John Sinclair, fathoms captain.

1st Team Match Report: Leamington 0 – 2 Stafford

Saturday 3rd December. 1.30pm
North Leamington School, Leamington, Warwickshire

Leamington HC 1st XI 0 – 2 Stafford HC 1st XI

Goals: Dan Rennie, Charlie Trotter
Man of the Match: Dan Rennie

Stafford travelled to Leamington on Saturday 3rd December for their furthest away league fixture of the season. Leamington, were bottom of the table with no points from their eight games but were out to prove that they could cut the mustard in this league. They started well, with a disciplined defensive game that broke down Stafford’s attacks and allowed them to try and punish the away team on the counter attack. Despite some early probing, Stafford couldn’t manufacture any clear-cut opportunities and it was in fact Leamington who had the first proper sniff at goal when a fast attack led to a ball being played in from the top of the circle. Dan Howe in goal was quick to the floor to smother and the ball was spirited away to safety.

Despite this early scare, Stafford were soon back on the offensive and some good play from top-scorer Charlie Trotter won a penalty corner. The ball came out to Ed Handley on the left of the circle who struck the ball hard along the floor. Saved by the goalkeeper, the rebound came to captain Ben Hollands whose shot struck a Leamington player on the line: penalty stroke. Ed Handley, who has scored his previous two penalty strokes this season saw his shot well saved by the impressive young goalkeeper who was greeted by enthusiastic cheers from his team-mates. Unperturbed, Stafford kept going and five minutes from the end of the first half, managed to break the deadlock when Dan Rennie’s reverse stick strike took a big deflection and bobbled under the keeper to make it one nil.

After half-time, Leamington kept at it with some dogged defence and hoped to catch Stafford on the break. However the tightest defence in the league managed to snuff out every attack, Mike Wattley on the left particularly impressing. At times Stafford were certainly guilty of trying to force opportunities playing into opposition hands and seeing this, coach Ed Wills encouraged the team to create some width, and to get the ball to young Will Trotter on the right. This tactical adjustment started to create space and the second goal finally came after some good work from James Wild who won possession in the midfield and exploded forwards. The ball was slipped to man-of-the match Dan Rennie who, with consummate ease, took it round two defenders and played it to Charlie Trotter who converted with a first time open-stick strike into the bottom corner.

After that, Stafford looked for more goals but none came. For the Leamington players, they felt that this was their best performance all season and Stafford were somewhat mystified as to how such a fit, organised team can find themselves pointless going into the Christmas break. They will surely pick up points in the New Year and hopefully it will be enough to keep them up.

1st team match reports vs Ludlow and Ashby

Saturday 26th November
Stafford 5 – 0 Ludlow (West Midlands Premier League)

Sunday 27th November
Stafford 1 – 3 Ashby (England Hockey Vase 3rd Round)

It was a weekend of mixed fortunes for Stafford as they returned to the top of the West Midlands Premier on Saturday and exited the England Hockey Vase in the third round on Sunday.

Saturday saw a comfortable 5-0 victory against Ludlow. The Shropshire team, who had travelled a long way, were missing key players due to suspensions and injuries. Despite Ludlow calling up some impressive youngsters, Stafford had too much composure and firepower and in the end ran out easy winners. The scoring was opened by the in-form Dan Rennie who despatched a powerful shot from the top of the circle early on in the first half. Ludlow tried to get into the game but could not get their passing going; Stafford managing to frustrate ex-national league player James Pratt with aggressive pressing in their own half. Stafford pulled two ahead when a James Wild shot was deflected in by Charlie Trotter and a third came from Andy Peatfield, a welcome return for his first game of the season, from a scrappy penalty corner.

In the second half it was more of the same with a further two goals. The first came after the industrious Andy Barnett robbed the ball from Ludlow’s fullback, feeding Charlie Trotter who slotted home. A man of the match performance from Barnett was rounded off with an unstoppable deflection high into the roof of the goal from a James Wild through ball. Barnett has now scored in the past four successive league games taking his total for the season to six and will be pushing hard for player of the season.

On Sunday, Stafford faced a significantly sterner task against Ashby in the England Hockey Vase. The Derbyshire side who are unbeaten this season brought a young, fit, hungry team and started brightly putting pressure on Stafford’s players in all areas of the pitch. The pressure paid off when Richard Buka, playing at fullback lost the ball cheaply, the Ashby attacker driving forwards and slotting the ball past goalkeeper Dan Howe from the top of the circle. Stafford managed to grab one back through a penalty corner and then sat back into a half court press to try and contain the opposition. However, Ashby’s tidy passing and running off the ball created problems and soon they were in the Stafford circle again, managing to tuck away a rebound through the goalkeeper’s legs. In the second half, Stafford kept battling away but just could not find an opening against a well organised defence. With 15 minutes to go, Ashby struck the final nail in the coffin that is Stafford’s cup run; breaking into the circle down the right and powering home from a tight angle. So this was not to be the season for cup glory but Stafford have had a good run and good luck to Ashby in the next round.


1st Team Match Report: Bloxwich 2 – 2 Stafford

Saturday 19th November
Bloxwich HC 1st XI 2 – 2 Stafford HC 1st XI

Goals: Andy Barnett x2
Man of the match: Dan Howe

On Saturday Stafford made the short trip down the M6 to Bloxwich for a top of the table clash that saw them come from 2-0 down at half time. Stafford only made one change from their last league game; a like-for-like swap bringing the experienced James Gillingham for the recently emigrated Giles Rowden.

Bloxwich started well and Stafford allowed them time on the ball, defending deep, hoping to soak up some pressure and beat the opposition on the counter-attack. However within ten minutes, Stafford were behind. Some crisp passing across the just-thawed surface lead to a hit into the circle, wrong-footing the defence and leading to an easy finish into the bottom right hand corner.

Stafford then had to break from their deep lying tactic and looked more comfortable pressing the opposition. However some more decent build-up play brought Bloxwich some penalty corner opportunities, the third despatched efficiently with a drag flick high away to goalkeeper Dan Howe’s right hand.

After a positive, optimistic half time team talk Stafford started the second half brightly and were able to impose their own passing game on the opposition. Space opened up on the flanks allowing the spritely Mike Wattley on the left and Will Trotter on the right to get forward to support the attack. Despite some good hockey Stafford were unable to break through the normal channels but had a lucky break when Mike Wattley’s powerful straight pass into the circle was inexplicably missed by the defender allowing Andy Barnett who put in an impressive circle-to-circle display to deflect the ball into the net. Again Stafford pressed, Bloxwich defending deeper and deeper and the equaliser came with 15 minutes to go after some Dan Rennie’s wayward reverse stick shot following some intricate skills was again deflected in to the net by Andy Barnett for his second.

In the final quarter, goalkeeper Dan Howe earned his man of the match award making a string of top quality saves to keep the score level keeping out Bloxwich with a one-on-one reaction save followed by a smart stop with his shoulder. The game petered out after that but Stafford will be encouraged by the nature of their fight back against a good quality side.

On Saturday 26th November Stafford entertain mid-table Ludlow HC, 1pm at Beaconside.

1st Team Match Report v Kings Heath

Stafford HC 1st team retain top spot in the MRHA West Midlands Premier Division with a comfortable 3-0 win last weekend against strugglers Kings Heath HC.

In truth it could have been more but Stafford were happy with the result and bouncing back after last week’s loss to Market Drayton HC. Things were fairly even in the early stages, Stafford were content to size up their opposition who proved comfortable on the ball and had a good passing game.

Stafford then got into their stride, spreading the ball out wide and then attacking the circle on mass. Kings started to make mistakes and Stafford won a penalty corner after good work from Will Trotter. His brother Charlie took full advantage as he deflected the ball into the goal after a great pass from Ed Handley.

After that Stafford piled on the pressure, a great pass from James Wild to Giles Rowden, saw the latter lay the ball onto Charlie Trotter, he beat the goal keeper and fired the ball in on the reverse stick.

Kings Heath then sat back and there was no further scoring before the break. After halftime, Kings started to get into the game. A bit of defensive frailty saw Stafford concede a number of penalty corners, they were well broken down by Richard Buka and Dan Howe in goal. Kings Heath started playing an aerial game but their chances were limited.

Stafford grabbed their third after Dan Rennie beat his marker, his shot was well saved by a very good goalkeeper but the rebound was put in by Andy Barnett. That was it for goals, Stafford felt they should have had a penalty stroke after Charlie Trotter was upended in the circle the umpire thought otherwise. Wild burst into the circle on a couple of occasions but shot wide.

A great result but Stafford felt disappointed that they had not scored more, next week they have a blank fixture in the league but face Nuneaton HC away in the England Hockey Vase on Sunday.

1st Team Match Report v Market Drayton

Stafford HC 1st team’s impressive early season form came to an abrupt end last weekend, losing 5-2 to experienced campaigners Market Drayton HC.

In truth the game was over in the first 20 minutes, with Stafford conceding 4 goals in a sloppy first half. The team improved in the second half to score two consolation goals but lessons need to be learnt.

Market Drayton with home advantage used the slope on the Keele University pitch well, a misplaced pass by Ed Handley allowed a quick counter attack and Brendan Jones grabbed his first of four goals in the game. Stafford kept pressing forward and did win a number of penalty corners, however they were not able to make them count.

Then mistakes again allowed the opposition to break and Drayton were clinical in finishing past a beleaguered Dan Howe in goals.

At the break Stafford regathered and came out in much more positive manner, Charlie Trotter scored with a lovely drag flick into the side netting. Market Drayton grabbed a fifth after another quick counter attack and still had time to hit the post twice!

Stafford grabbed their second after a nice pass from Piers Wooller and a neat touch from Andy Barnett wrong footing the keeper.

Hopefully Stafford will learn from their mistakes next week and get back to winning ways against Kings Heath HC, 1.00pm start at Beaconside.

1st Team Match Report v Wednesbury

Stafford HC 1st team are the only unbeaten team in the West Midlands Premier league after an emphatic 5-0 win against Wednesbury HC.

Stafford have a poor record against Wednesbury and knew not to take the visitors for granted. A cagey start saw both sides probing each other, Stafford created a few half chances but they were well saved.

The first goal came after man of the match Dan Rennie rushed on to an incoming ball and slotted it into the bottom corner. After that Stafford took control, switching the ball around the back between Ed Handley, Will Trotter and Mike Wattley.

Soon afterwards Wednesbury won their only shot corner which was saved well by Dan Howe for his only touch of the game! Stafford scored their second after James Wild powered a shot in at a penalty corner.

After the break Stafford ran the visitors ragged, being able to play the ball up quickly to Giles Rowden and Charlie Trotter. It was only excellent goal keeping that kept the home team from scoring more. Eventually Wednesbury tired, Charlie Trotter grabbed a well deserved goal, picking up the pieces at the far post to put the ball into the roof of the net.

Rennie got his second in a similar move before he completed his hat trick with a wonderful team goal, four one touch passes for a simple tap in.

These are great times on the pitch for the County town team, next week they face another old foe in Market Drayton HC, a 2.00pm push back at Keele University.

1st Team Match Report v Aldridge and Walsall

Stafford HC 1st team continued their impressive start to their West Midlands Premier campaign last weekend with a 4-1 over visitors Bromsgrove HC.

They got off to the perfect start, when Charlie Trotter returning to the team scored with his first touch. It was excellent approach work by James Wild and Dan Rennie that presented Trotter with the simple task of putting it into the bottom corner.

The game settled down after that, Bromsgrove being experienced campaigners in this league were able to play possession hockey. They created a few chances but nothing that Richard Buka, Ed Handley or Dan Howe in goal could not cope with.

Stafford then doubled their lead, a quick free hit by Giles Rowden put Trotter away, he turned his man and fired into the bottom corner. There was still time for Rennie to miss a good chance but 2-0 at half time.

After the break, Bromsgrove put some concerted pressure on Stafford, a defensive error saw their efforts rewarded by a nice goal, played through Howe’s legs to give the visitors hope. However Stafford stuck to their game plan, pressing high and forcing Bromsgrove into mistakes. James Wild grabbed his first of the campaign after a nice touch to beat the keeper and then Stafford secured all three points when Charlie Trotter completed his hat trick by running on to a floated pass and finishing well.

Stafford are joint top with Aldridge and Walsall HC who they play next week, away at Aston University 2.30pm push back.

1st Team Match Report v Bromsgrove

Stafford HC 1st team continued their impressive start to their West Midlands Premier campaign last weekend with a 4-1 over visitors Bromsgrove HC.

They got off to the perfect start, when Charlie Trotter returning to the team scored with his first touch. It was excellent approach work by James Wild and Dan Rennie that presented Trotter with the simple task of putting it into the bottom corner.

The game settled down after that, Bromsgrove being experienced campaigners in this league were able to play possession hockey. They created a few chances but nothing that Richard Buka, Ed Handley or Dan Howe in goal could not cope with.

Stafford then doubled their lead, a quick free hit by Giles Rowden put Trotter away, he turned his man and fired into the bottom corner. There was still time for Rennie to miss a good chance but 2-0 at half time.

After the break, Bromsgrove put some concerted pressure on Stafford, a defensive error saw their efforts rewarded by a nice goal, played through Howe’s legs to give the visitors hope. However Stafford stuck to their game plan, pressing high and forcing Bromsgrove into mistakes. James Wild grabbed his first of the campaign after a nice touch to beat the keeper and then Stafford secured all three points when Charlie Trotter completed his hat trick by running on to a floated pass and finishing well.

Stafford are joint top with Aldridge and Walsall HC who they play next week, away at Aston University 2.30pm push back.

1st Team Match Report v Solihull Blossomfield

Stafford HC 1st team got their West Midlands Premier division campaign off to a wonderful start last weekend with an excellent 2-1 away win against Solihull Blossomfield HC.

The newly promoted Riverway team were missing last year’s top scorer Charlie Trotter and travelled with a bare eleven compared to the opposition squad of 14 players. To make things even more difficult, three of the players got stuck in traffic and arrived a minute before the start time.

It soon became apparent that Blossomfield were very well organised and put the Stafford team under considerable pressure, a big wake up call to how league hockey will be this season. That said, Stafford defended very well, Dr Richard Buka, Ed Handley and Lucas Delanchy breaking down the attacks. Stafford were not able to create much and it looked like it could be a long afternoon.

Blossomfield took the lead when they won a penalty corner, a wicked deflection off Ben Hollands’ stick saw Dan Howe in goal save well, the rebound however was put through his legs.

The home team then probably made the mistake of sitting back and allowing Stafford to gain their composure. The work rate of James Wild and Andy Barnett saw Stafford start to create chances. Just before the break they won their only penalty corner, Piers Wooller took on the shot and it again deflected off Hollands stick but this time to be saved illegally on the line by a Blossomfield player. Ed Handley took on the penalty and calmly slotted it in for his first Stafford goal, 1-1 at half time.

After the break Stafford were pretty much in control, a few good attacks saw Dan Rennie and Giles Rowden miss chances. They took the lead after a Ben Hollands burst into the circle and his shot cannoned off Andrew Barnett’s stick into the goal. Blossomfield appealed hard about a missed foul but the goal was allowed.

The home team then started to lose their composure, they created chances but seemed to lack the final touch. Stafford were able to shut up shop and the final whistle went to jubilant Stafford scenes.

An excellent performance will give Stafford great hope that they can do well in this competitive league. Next week a full strength squad see them host Bromsgrove HC at Beaconside, 1.00pm push back.

1st Team Match Report v Old Wulfs

Stafford HC 1st team wrapped up their last pre-season friendly with a 4-3 away win against Old Wulfs HC in Wolverhampton. That has made it four wins out of four in a confident build up to the start of the league season next week.

Old Wulfs fielded a strong squad including ex Staffordian Gareth Minton, Stafford welcomed back James Wild and Dan Howe from the cricket section.

The early stages were close, both teams cancelling each other out, Stafford broke well on a couple of occasions, only to be denied by some excellent goal-keeping. Old Wulfs took the lead after a miss hit shot, wrong footing Dan Howe in goals.

Stafford equalised after Gareth Minton gifted his old club a present passing the ball to Giles Rowden in the circle who laid it off to Charlie Trotter to score!

1-1 at half time and all to play for, the old boys retook the lead after a nice bit of skill on the base line saw a close range finish. Stafford then scored twice in quick succession, James Wild taking the ball round the keeper after a good pass from Piers Wooller. Andy Barnett then intercepted the ball, played it quickly to Trotter who blasted it home.

There was still time for Old Wulfs to equalise after a bobbly ball found an unmarked player on the far post. However Stafford took the honours when Piers Wooller fired home at a penalty corner.

A morale boosting victory against a good team ahead of a league encounter against Solihull Blossomfield HC next weekend.

1st Team Match Report v Wolverhampton

Stafford HC 1st team hosted Wolverhampton HC last weekend in an entertaining 4-3 friendly victory.

Stafford missing a few players to cricket and holiday, took the opportunity to blood new players, debutant Andy Richardson impressed in the forward line.

In a bright start Wolverhampton took the game to Stafford, putting the defence under pressure, Dave Trotter in goal, having to do more work than he probably wanted to. Wolverhampton took the lead when Trotter saved well but the ball was bundled under him from the rebound.

Stafford then woke up, Dan Rennie to the fore, he played the ball to Richardson who crossed it to James Gillingham to score with a well placed shot. Stafford then took control and scored three quick goals in their preferred counter attacking style.

Rennie scored himself after a quick break saw Giles Rowden play the ball into the path of the onrushing Rennie who put it into an empty net. Charlie Trotter then scored himself after a nice run and a shot on his reverse side bobbled over a prone keeper. Rennie grabbed his second and Stafford’s 4th after a shot from the top of the circle.

The second half saw Wolverhampton exert some consistent pressure, they grabbed a second from a penalty corner after a nice reverse stick finish. Stafford had some chances but some fine goal keeping denied them.

Next week Stafford face Old Wulfs away in their final friendly.

1st Team Match Report v Leamington

1st Team Match Report v Leamington

Stafford HC 1st team wrapped up the 2015 – 2016 season in slightly disappointing fashion losing their first game 2-1 against runners-up Leamington HC.

Stafford had already secured the league title two weeks previously and made the trip to Warwickshire without their player of the season Andy Peatfield. Their cause was not helped when Captain Ben Hollands was injured within the first 5 minutes and could play little part in the proceedings.

It soon became apparent that Leamington were up for the challenge, needing the win to take 2nd spot in the league. They took the game to Stafford, forcing them to defend deep. The defence held firm but Dan Howe in goals was forced into a number of early saves.

Leamington took the lead from a defensive mistake, Leamington broke and scored with a tap in at the far post. Stafford rallied, winning a number of penalty corners, a switch to Piers Wooller saw his shot saved but James Wilde was on hand to score with an excellent reverse stick shot into the roof of the net.

Things evened out after that, Stafford could have scored when Giles Rowden fired past the post and Charlie Trotter squandered a penalty corner. Dan Howe was called on to make an excellent stick save that saw the ball go over the bar.

Leamington grabbed the winner late on in the second half, a penalty corner was well saved initially but the ball broke to the far post and the opportunity was taken.

Stafford had a couple of half chances later on but could not take them, Leamington controlled the ball well and ensured the win.

Congratulations to them, Stafford will hopefully see them next season in West Midlands Premier, barring any re-shuffling.

1st Team Match Report v Pershore

Stafford HC 1st team confirmed their position as champions of West Midlands Division 1 with an impressive 4-1 victory away at Pershore HC. Stafford have clinched the league with two games in hand and remain unbeaten this season.

That said Pershore did their hardest to spoil the party with a determined effort, frustrating their visitors with a 1-1 score line until into the second half. Stafford started well enough, winning a penalty corner which Piers Wooller despatched at the second effort. The visitors kept pushing forward but found a goal-keeper in fine form, Giles Rowden hit the post and Stafford could not dispatch the rest of their penalty corners.

Pershore then broke, forced the Stafford defence into an error in the circle and were awarded a penalty corner, this was dispatched with aplomb into the corner of Dan Howe’s goal.

A well deserved rollicking from coach Ed Wills at half time, seemed to do the trick and Stafford came out all guns blazing in the second half. Charlie Trotter scored from a penalty corner, dispatched neatly into the bottom corner, Captain Ben Hollands then added to his seasons tally with a deflected shot.

There was still time for Dave Anderson to miss a penalty stroke after Hollands was upended in the circle. The best goal was saved to last as defender Mike Wattley found himself in unfamiliar territory in the opposition circle, he skipped past a couple of defenders before slotting the ball neatly into the goal.

A great game, played against a very capable opponent who wanted to play hockey. Stafford will want to close out the season in style, next week they host Newtown HC from Wales, 1.00pm at Beaconside.

1st Team Match Report v West Bromwich

Stafford HC retook top spot of the West Midlands Div 1 with a 3-1 win against previous leaders West Bromwich HC.

West Brom were the in form team going into the fixture, Stafford on the other hand were still reeling from their draw against Yardley. As a result West Brom dominated the early stages, moving the ball nicely and with a game plan of trying to rob the ball off the Stafford defence.

The away team created a number of early chances but could not seem to put the finishing touches to their play. Dan Howe in goals smothered anything that came his way. Stafford did win a couple of early penalty corners but could not get a shot away themselves.

West Brom then deservedly took the lead, Dave Anderson was dispossessed in midfield, the ball slipped out wide for league top goal scorer Paul Compton to slap home. After that the midfield took over and pretty much cancelled each other out.

Stafford then grabbed their equaliser when they won the ball high up the pitch, Dan Rennie passed to Giles Rowden who in turn moved it on to Andy Peatfield, he flicked the ball high into the net.

A great moral boost and Stafford were much better in the second half, they looked much better going forwards and took the lead through Charlie Trotter who knocked the ball home at the far post after an Andy Barnett cross.

Dan Howe still had plenty to do, West Brom were guilty of missing some good chances and things started to open up. Rowden missed an excellent chance before the result was put beyond doubt when Peatfield grabbed his second with a narrow far post finish.

A big result for Stafford who now only need three points from one of their remaining three games. Next weekend they travel down to Pershore hoping to wrap the league up.

1st Team Match Report v Yardley

Stafford HC 1st suffered a slip up last weekend in aim to win West Midlands Div 1 of the Midlands Regional Hockey Association by drawing 2-2 against Yardley HC.

Due to the league withdrawal of Oswestry HC and a blank week, Stafford had not played in three weeks and looked rusty from the start. What they were not expecting however was the tenacity and work rate from a young team, obviously fired up about facing the league leaders.

So despite early pressure, Stafford could not really make any chances count and Yardley were intent on breaking down play and then trying the quick counter attack. It paid dividends for them when they won their only penalty corner. It was dispatched with aplomb, the ball deflecting over a diving Dan Howe who just got his stick to it.

Stafford were stunned but then took control, they were able to win numerous penalty corners but their usual slick routines were not firing, and the Yardley goal keeper had a great afternoon. Eventually Stafford grabbed the equaliser when James Wilde burst through and his shot was deflected in by Charlie Trotter.

The barrage continued but the game was tied at half time. In the second half it was more of the same, penalty corners won and missed and it seemed time was running out for Stafford. Trotter then popped up at the far post and guided the ball into the goal for Stafford to take the lead. Unfortunately they could not keep hold of it as a couple of missed tackles in midfield saw Yardley advance into the circle, their forward turned and slotted the ball under the advancing keeper to have the home team in raptures.

No doubt a huge confidence boost for the young Yardley side, who have gone through some tough times over the last few years, congratulations to them on their performance.

Stafford still remain unbeaten this season after the result against Oswestry was voided. Next week they play new league leaders West Bromwich HC 1.00pm at Beaconside, a win will see Stafford go ahead of them with two games in hand.

1st Team Match Report v Redditch

Stafford HC 1st team pulled three points clear of West Midlands Division 1 with an impressive 5-1 win away at previous joint leaders Redditch HC. Andy Peatfield was the star of the show scoring a hat trick.

It soon became clear that Stafford were facing a strong opponent during a first ten minutes when they struggled to get the ball out of their half, Redditch kept the ball really well but just seemed to lack the finishing touch with a couple of early shots that went wide.

Goal keeper Dan Howe was also called into action early on, pulling off an excellent save at the far post. Gradually Stafford were able to exert some authority, breaking down the right!, Giles Rowden found himself in some space on the Redditch baseline, dribbled round a couple of players before passing to Ben Hollands. Hollands shot was saved illegally on the line and a penalty stroke was given before the ball actually dribbled over the line. Peatfield dispatched the penalty to give Stafford the lead.

Piers Wooller then created the second goal, passing the ball to Charlie Trotter who unselfishly passed to Peatfield on the far post to double his tally. Redditch then created their own chances, taking very quick free hits to leave the Stafford defence exposed, again a lack of composure let them down. Their pressure eventually told, winning a number of corners, Mike Wattley and Alex Peatfield cleared a number of chances before Redditch got their goal, a nice deflection at the near post.

2-1 at half time, Stafford were facing the best team they had played all season but we’re not daunted, coach Ed Wills urging the Riverway team forward. In fact it was Redditch who came out the stronger, pushing forward which allowed the Stafford defence to soak up the pressure before breaking quickly with numbers. This counter attacking style has seen Stafford score nearly 90 goals so far this season and Peatfield demonstrated that as he burnt passed his marker and finishing with aplomb into the far corner.

Redditch were forced to chase the game and gaps opened up helped by a couple of suspensions for the home team. Andy Barnett popped up at the far post to grab a goal and then Charlie Trotter’s mis-hit went in at the far post.

A stunned Redditch team had nothing left as Stafford took all three points, Stafford’s superior finishing power being the deciding factor.

Next week Stafford face Oswestry HC, 1.00pm at home, the Shropshire team being only team to beat Stafford in the league this season.

1st Team Match Reports v Droitwich and Barlaston

Stafford HC 1st team remain top of West Midlands Division 1 on goal difference after two impressive results last weekend.

On Saturday they entertained Droitwich HC, running out 5-0 winners before taking the honours in the local derby on Sunday 7-1 against Barlaston HC.

Against Droitwich, Stafford found a resilient opponent prepared to tackle hard to deny their opponents. Stafford took the lead early on, a run along the base line and pass from Andy Peatfield found Giles Rowden at the far post to tap the ball in.

Ben Hollands then doubled the lead, a great cross from Ed Handley allowed Hollands to get his stick on the ball and deflect the ball into the roof of the net. Droitwich then shut up shop, denying Stafford until after the break.

Stafford played better in the second half, but the man of the match honours actually went to Dan Howe for an amazing triple save to keep a clean sheet. Stafford grabbed three further goals, a trade mark drag flick from Dave Anderson, another for Hollands before Charlie Trotter scored late on to increase his seasons tally.

On Sunday, Stafford kept up the momentum with another clinical performance, Hollands scored early on before Trotter got in on the act, scoring three goals from penalty corners. Barlaston grabbed a nice goal themselves from a penalty corner before Stafford grabbed one themselves from Dave Anderson.

After the break Stafford piled the pressure on and forced the Barlaston keeper into making some great saves, eventually Stafford grabbed a couple of extra goals, Hollands with a close range finish and Rowden picking up the pieces after an Andy Peatfield shot.

Job done for the Riverway side, next week they face promotion rivals Redditch HC away, 1.30pm push back.

1st Team Match Report v Evesham

Stafford HC 1st continued their dominance of West Midlands Div 1 last weekend after they demolished Evesham HC 10-1.

The Riverway team showed no signs of rustiness, scoring an incredible seven goals in the first 20 minutes of the game. Evesham did well to reorganise themselves and make a contest of it after that.

Stafford started the game well, distributing the ball at pace and spreading the play to coach Ed Wills delight. Andy Peatfield grabbed the first after a trademark burst of pace saw him clear his marker, he was able to slot the ball in at the far post.

League top scorer Charlie Trotter got in on the act after Giles Rowden played him in, a nice close range finish. Andy Barnett scored after another surging run and Captain Ben Hollands finished past a stunned goal keeper.

Evesham were trying to play their own hockey but kept getting caught on the counter attack, Trotter grabbed probably the quickest hat-trick of the season and Dave Anderson scored from a powerful penalty corner flick.

After this, Evesham shut up shop and reorganised themselves, to the extent that Stafford went into the break feeling frustrated.

After the break the stalemate continued until Dave Anderson scored with another terrific corner. Then Evesham ruined keeper Dan Howe’s day with a great team goal to raise their moral.

Stafford were able to grab a couple of late goals through Barnett and Hollands to leave them top on goal difference. An interesting game played in good spirits by both teams and two umpires who officiated excellently.

Next week Stafford face neighbours Barlaston HC at Alleynes High School in Stone, 2.00pm push back.