Hitchin hockey: Mixed set of results for Blueharts

PUBLISHED: 14:02 02 October 2017 | UPDATED: 14:08 02 October 2017

Richard Julian tangles with a Letchworth player. Picture: Danny Loo

Richard Julian tangles with a Letchworth player. Picture: Danny Loo

Danny Loo Photography 2017

For the latest on Blueharts Hockey Club read our comprehensive CometSport round-up with thanks to Nicky Sadler.

Tom White lines up a shot. Picture: Danny LooTom White lines up a shot. Picture: Danny Loo

Across the club there were two wins, four draws and five losses over the weekend.

The biggest win was the Men’s fourth’s who were on fire putting eight goals past Rickmansworth away.

Captain Tim Sporle opened the score sheet, followed by two goals from Dan Smith and a second from Sporle to make the score 4-0 by half time.

Blueharts were aided by Rickmansworth losing their keeper to injury so were down to 10 men until a second keeper arrived.

Blueharts went on to score four more with two from Barry Smith and two from Phil Britton.

Special mention to keeper Matt Hutchinson who played very well on his debut in a fourth team league match and kept a clean sheet including facing a penalty flick.

Chris Batchelor plays a pass under pressure against Letchworth. Picture: Danny LooChris Batchelor plays a pass under pressure against Letchworth. Picture: Danny Loo

The Men’s 1s had a local derby at home which is always a special occasion.

Blueharts 1s had been waiting to play Letchworth 1s for a few seasons and this Premier A encounter was eagerly anticipated by both teams.

On a bright autumnal afternoon in front of a capacity crowd the game started at a fast tempo with both sides playing hard and showing the levels of commitment such a contest demands.

Despite some good possession and promising attacking play from the home side, it was Letchworth who struck first with two goals in quick succession after some uncharacteristic mistakes in the Blueharts midfield. The visiting side showed their experience at this level with two clinical finishes the home side can take note from.

Even though the score was 0-2 at half time, the blues kept their heads held high and were confident they had enough in the locker to get back into the game.

After some choice words during the break, the hosts took too long to get up to the pace of the game.

Blueharts set up for a short corner. Picture: Danny LooBlueharts set up for a short corner. Picture: Danny Loo

Letchworth pressed hard and exploited Blueharts’ mistakes by creating several chances, including two goals and one that was disallowed.

The fourth goal was the pick of the bunch with the Letchworth centre forward completing his hat trick with a well taken lob over Will Gallimore in goal.

It was at this point that Blueharts found their form showing a resoluteness, desire and level of fitness that had been lacking in recent years and, with Letchworth attempting to coast to a comfortable win, Blueharts started to graft, get stuck in and cause real problems for the visiting side.

Liam Connelly was the pick of the forwards but they all ran hard to create space, pile pressure on the defence and numerous opportunities followed.

Liam scored the first with an improvised reverse stick finish after he was picked out in the D by Ed Atkins.

Atkins followed his assist with a far post volley into the roof of the net after some good work in the D by Paul Tough to pick him out.

Paul Tough fires in a shot from the short corner routine. Picture: Danny LooPaul Tough fires in a shot from the short corner routine. Picture: Danny Loo

The flurry of second half goals was completed by Paul Tough after being fed the ball by Chris Batchelor, who put in a dominant display in the midfield.

With minutes to go, Blueharts were on top, Letchworth were crumbling and a point, possibly even all three, were in sight. Blueharts continued to dominate and the chances came but just couldn’t be finished off. Paul Tough, Jeff Parker and Tom White all had golden opportunities to score a fourth but the side netting, the post and the defenders stick all agonizingly came in between the newly promoted side and a draw.

Man of the Match was Liam Connelly for his pace, skill and running; every defenders nightmare.

Captain Richard Julian said: “The game finished 3-4 but Blueharts should be proud of their performance, their heart to come back into the game and their positive attitude to support each other and stand together as a squad throughout the game.

“It was hugely disappointing not to nick a draw at the end but the way they went about the game and the signs of promise showed mean that the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.

“If we can minimise the mistakes and become more clinical in attack, we will pose a real threat to any side in this league”.

The Letchworth goalkeeper makes a save during a Blueharts short corner. Picture: Danny LooThe Letchworth goalkeeper makes a save during a Blueharts short corner. Picture: Danny Loo

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It was a family affair for the Men’s 6s with three Addisons in the team playing together for the first time.

Father Phil Addison, 50, Jamie, 16 and David aged 14 helped the Men’s 6s have another great comeback in an end to end game 3-3 draw away to Royston.

One down at half time and then two down soon after the break, heads could have dropped but 6s hit back with a deflection from a short corner hit by Bobby Bridges. Royston restored their two goal cushion soon after, but a second goal from Bobby and one from Sean Storey helped retain their unbeaten start to the season.

Richard Julian looks to steal the ball back from a Letchworth attack. Picture: Danny LooRichard Julian looks to steal the ball back from a Letchworth attack. Picture: Danny Loo

The Men’s 3s lost 2-3 to Vauxhall at home. The visitors put three past a sluggish Blueharts team in the first 20 minutes.

Blueharts, knowing they were on the back foot started to react and get themselves back into the game, moving the ball quicker and using the width well.

A few sharp passes just before half time allowed Richard Cherry to slot home from close range, keeping Blueharts in contention at half time, 3-1.

The second half was a much improved performance with man of the match Harry Sampson finding the back of the net and a third goal being disallowed.

Some crucial saves by Tino kept the 3s in it but they ran out of time to equalise.

Richard Julian comes away with the ball to get the Blueharts on the attack. Picture: Danny LooRichard Julian comes away with the ball to get the Blueharts on the attack. Picture: Danny Loo

The U14 boys had their first outing of the season in the Mercian League away to Saffron Walden.

Thomas Sadler scored first for Blueharts after getting round a defender then roofing the ball on a reverse stick over the keeper into the top of the net. Blueharts scored again after a great run into the D and cross from Harvey Gaunt, the ball found the back of the net after concerted pressure from Iwan Cromack causing the defender to concede an own-goal. 2-1 up, the match ended in a draw when the home team equalised at the end.

The Ladies’ 1s travelled to Suffolk to take on Sudbury who came down from league above last season. Sudbury attacked hard and fast right from the start with some skilled and physical players.

Blueharts played the more attractive hockey taking free hits quickly and moving the ball around the pitch. Carly Madders and Anna Page distributed some great balls out to Player of the Match Vicki Bidwell who drove down the right releasing the ball to Jay Livermore, Olivia Marsh and Harriet Marsh who used their speed and skill to get round Sudbury defenders.

Chris Batchelor reaches to block a Letchworth pass. Picture: Danny LooChris Batchelor reaches to block a Letchworth pass. Picture: Danny Loo

Their hard work won a couple of short corners. After a couple that were broken down Blueharts had a successful short corner after Olivia Marsh put away Roberta Daisy May Walker’s cross to put Blueharts in the lead.

Sudbury responded by upping their pace, winning a couple of short corners which Jess Marsh deftly saved and Laura Kemp did a superb job of halting the ball at the top of the D on the final minute of the first half.

Refuelled after half time, Blueharts came back out strong with the defence dishing the ball around the back to change direction, which worked well despite Sudbury putting on a high and fast press.

In the second half Sudbury changed their attacking structure putting the defence under pressure and despite some good marking and tackles the Sudbury striker used her powerful back stick strike to score from open play.

Blueharts counter-attacked hard with everyone putting in a great work rate, despite a couple of attacking short, long corners and crosses across the goal Blueharts were unable to get on target again.

The opposition continued to pile on the pressure winning more short corners which unfortunately they scored from leaving Blueharts only a couple of minutes to chase an equaliser.

Richard Julian tangles with a Letchworth player. Picture: Danny LooRichard Julian tangles with a Letchworth player. Picture: Danny Loo

Captain Harriet Marsh said: “A great work rate from all the team on a hot day and sandy pitch but a 2-1 loss.

“A draw would have been a fairer result, we look forward to a return fixture at home”

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The Ladies’ 2 were away to Welwyn whom came down from the league above last season.

Richard Julian tangles with a Letchworth player. Picture: Danny LooRichard Julian tangles with a Letchworth player. Picture: Danny Loo

A tough test, Blueharts looked threatening, Ella Blackmore undid the Welwyn defence, rolling her defender and slipping past the back line.

The keeper came steaming out to clear the ball, but once more Ella was first to it and thundered a cross in.

This time Tamzin Wright was on hand to get the final touch to ensure the team went 1-0 up.

Blueharts remained on top but Welwyn got a goal against the run of play. Louise Pillar coming out to meet the shot, the rebound hitting the attackers stick taking the ball up onto the forwards chest and nestling in the net.

Feeling hard done by, Blueharts went in to half time at 1-1. In spite of organised defending Welwyn got a lucky break with a ball crashing through in to goal without a single touch in the D.

Welwyn celebrated tricking the umpires into believing they had got the deft touch taking them up to 2-1.

Letchworth look to attack down the right wing. Picture: Danny LooLetchworth look to attack down the right wing. Picture: Danny Loo

The side started to string passes together, with Anna Wallace scoring her first goal for Ladies’ 2s making it 2-2.

Que Carol Lamey, intercepting a pass and driving toward the heart of the Welwyn defence, drawing a defender and finding a pass which was returned finding Carol in the D, a reverse stick effort almost awarded Blueharts with the winner, but for a tremendous reaction save by the away side keeper.

Player of the match: Ella Blackmore

The Ladies’ 4s won 2-1 at home to Potters Bar. Blueharts went out strong from the start winning a succession of short corners. They got fruitful with Jenny Burr striking to the near post where Helen Ferguson popped the ball into the net to give them the lead.

The visitors came out fighting strong in the second half and soon equalised with an almighty short corner rocket of a strike.

Letchworth on the attack. Picture: Danny LooLetchworth on the attack. Picture: Danny Loo

Game on, it was end to end hockey with Blueharts capitalising on a short corner strike from Jenny Burr sealing the win and 3 points.

Player of the match: Sarah Jane Wilmot.

The Ladies’ 3s lost 1-2 away at Letchworth. Consolation goal from Corinne Russell.

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The Men’s 5s lost at home to Luton Town 2.

The Men’s 2s drew 2-2 away to Letchworth 2s for another local derby. Goals scored by Richard Middleditch and Devon Wooley.

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