Phoenix Blues 3 – 3 Stafford
During the first half both teams had a number of attempts on goal to no prevail. Amanda Trotter, Jo Lovatt, and Amy Bailey all had shots on target well saved by the keeper.
The Stafford defence also had their work cut out as Phoenix put on the pressure, Isha Ball taking a ball to the head like a hero. They continued to work hard to keep the score 0-0 after Phoenix were awarded three penalty corners in a row just before half time.
The second half was where all the action happened. Once again Phoenix were awarded a penalty corner which was brilliantly saved by goal keeper Aileen Shiner. As play continued Phoenix managed to get a break and scored the first goal of the match leaving Stafford 1-0 down.
Stafford came back strong winning two penalty corners however the home side keeper kept the Stafford shots at bay.
During a period where a Stafford player had been awarded a green card leaving them a player down for 2 minutes, Phoenix took advantage with another strike from a penalty corner.
With 15 minutes left of the match Stafford had their work cut out to try and bring this back. With some lovely play down the right wing Amy Mitchell managed to get a shot off at the top of the circle and score Stafford’s first goal making the score 1-2.
Throughout the rest of the game both teams created a number of opportunities, Phoenix even having a strike hit the post.
Stafford got back into the game thanks to a quick attack, Aoife Dillan scoring with a cracking equaliser from the top of the circle and it was Dillan again who managed to put Stafford ahead with another solid strike sending Stafford into a 3-2 lead.
Stafford worked hard to maintain their lead but in the last 2 minutes Phoenix had a run on penalty corners with the fourth time proving lucky as the ball trickled over the goal line despite the defence and goal keeper’s best efforts. A 3-3 equaliser 5 seconds before the final whistle.
WATS 4 – 2 Stafford
The game began how it should have ended with an equally solid performance from both teams. All players were settling into their first league game back nicely with both teams having a few opportunities to put away goals which were turned away by solid performances from both teams goal keepers.
The first goal of the match came from WATS. Passing the ball strongly into the Stafford circle it was stopped initially by Kate Falconbridge but the follow up was picked up by a WATS striker. Michelle Sanderson in the Stafford goal performed a lovely dive to save it but the shot was right in the far corner.
After half time Stafford came back on the offensive and managed to win a penalty corner. The routine was played excellently, with an injection to Hannah Bleakey at the top of the circle, a slip to Pam Mitchell, then back to Bleakey who threaded a beautiful through ball to Jo Lovatt on the back post. The WATS defence tried hard to prevent the goal but it was now 1-1.
The game continued to be played well by both sides however Stafford had a close call when the umpire initially declared a goal for WATS after a shot hit the post but a very sporting WATS played quickly clarified so the game continued at 1-1.
It wasn’t long before WATS did however get their second goal which was scored from a penalty corner after a period of pressure from the WATS forwards.
Stafford soon pulled it back with some excellent play down the right between Amy Mitchell and Amy Bailey and Bailey’s cross found Lovatt who finished for Stafford’s second to bring the score to 2-2.
The game remained pretty even until the last 6 minutes when WATS were awarded a contentious penalty stroke for a foul in the circle and Stafford were reduced to 10 players for descent. WATS scored from the penalty stroke and then quickly followed this up with a 4th goal while Stafford were still readjusting to being a player down.
Stafford tried hard in the last few minutes to pull it back but unfortunately for Stafford the game ended 4 – 2 to WATS. A great game with an unfortunate outcome.
Aldridge & Walsall 3 – 2 Stafford
This week was crucial for a struggling second to bottom of the league Stafford team, playing against bottom of the league Aldridge & Walsall. There were chinks in our armour from the off with only 2 regular defenders and 4 non regular second team players.
Stafford were slow to get into the game being quite tentative as they were fully aware of the holes in defence. Stafford did however apply the pressure and made some surging runs forward resulting in a shot on goal from Rosie Cowie deflected from the keeper and swept home by Sian Gwyther, Stafford taking the lead 1-0.
In quick succession came another shot from a penalty corner hitting the target but unfortunately too high and being disallowed.
Stafford’s luck soon ran out and Aldridge came back strong getting 2 goals back finishing the first half 2-1 up. The gloves were off now and Stafford half time team talk was to hold nothing back and go on the attack.
Stafford came out as a completely different team, acknowledging the must win situation Stafford went on a relentless attack. There were chances galore but a break from the opposition resulted in a penalty corner and gave Aldridge the upper hand. Aldridge scoring and going up 3-1.
Stafford displayed true grit and determination and it was not long before Stafford pulled a goal back from a Grace Young strike. The score line now 3-2 but Stafford were unable to monopolise on this despite being the much stronger team and pounding a flagging Aldridge team.
Unlucky Stafford a bitter pill to swallow but we did our best. Man of the match went to Amy Mitchell and Grace Young.
Cannock 2 – 0 Stafford
A game that the 2nd’s wanted to win and certainly showed the grit and determination to achieve it. Unfortunately, the result did not reflect such a game.
The game began with Stafford putting on the pressure in the Cannock half winning a penalty corner, the resulting shot from Emma Clay which went slightly wide of the post. In return Cannock attacked an won a penalty corner which they successfully converted to go 1-0 up. Stafford ladies didn’t let up and continued to battle, placing pressure on the Cannock defence and forcing the goal keeper to come off her line and work for the wall. Unfortunately, before half time Cannock again on the counter attack received a another penalty corner and converted to go into the half time 2-0 up.
The second half was as lively as the first, Stafford had most of the possession and spurred on by the amazing chanting and support from the ladies 1’s in the stands. Cannock began to get rattled with the umpire warning the Cannock coach and awarding one Cannock player with a green card. Stafford ladies held their calm and nerve and continued to pressure Cannock with a number of goal scoring chance shots from Clay, Emily Trotter and Heather Craig. Unfortunately, Stafford were unable to transfer all the pressure into a goal.
At the full time whistle Cannock 2 – Stafford 0 : A valiant effort from the team, 100% effort from everyone.
Stafford 0 – 4 Wolverhampton & Tettenhall
The ladies second team were at home this week, in a difficult position as they are struggling near the bottom of the league table and desperately need some points to recover from a poor first half to the season. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be; Stafford once again were defeated losing 4-0.
The game started end to end with lots of flow in play but the opposition soon looked like the better drilled side and stormed the Stafford goal, forcing a own goal from a deflected clearance and taking several great strikes leaving Stafford unable to counter the attacks with any impact on the game.
There were some great individual performances especially from the keeper Nicky Sweeney who saved the team from a much larger score line, Carol Austin who fought relentlessly in midfield and Kate Falconbridge as ever, with a sterling performance in defence.