SCMK Accountants Stratford Avon played Te Kiri Rovers on Friday evening in Stratford.
Both teams took the field with only nine players, with the first half very even with play back and forth, Rovers managing to score 1 goal.
Avon made it into Rovers' circle a number of times but could not finish off. First half Rovers 1, Avon 0. Second half saw both teams with 10 players. Rovers' fitness let them command more of the play running in some goals easy. Avon did try hard and came so close to scoring on a couple of occasions. Final score 5-0. Avon's player of the day went to Kobie Hey.
Matthew & Co Real Estate Stratford B Women had a tough game on Saturday against the forever-improving Te Kiri side. Demi Ward played her heart out in the goal, saving many goals for Stratford. Stratford's player of the day went to Chrissy Engelen, who saved four goals on the line. The Stratford side are improving each week and are hanging out for a win. Unfortunately, Te Kiri were too strong.
CMK Accountants Stratford A Women came up against their top of the table opponents Northern United Wild Cats, in very miserable conditions. Stratford always knew from the beginning that they had to stick to their own game plan to make things work.
Northern were ready for anything and put the pressure early on in the game. They came at Stratford's goal fast in the first quarter, sneaking one past the keeper and then slotted one in off a penalty corner, a while later.
In the second half Stratford turned the game around and showed they were no pushover. The team had many attempts in the circle but just could not get past the goalie. Northern then took an untouched ball, to run away and score a third goal to end up 3-0 at full time.
On a cold rainy night in New Plymouth, the Men's A team looked out at a wet Devon Hotel Park turf. Would it flood, and would the game be called off? Not ideal prep for a top of the table clash against New Plymouth Boys High School 1st XI, with a potential finals spot on the line. However, as the whistle went, the rain eased; the slow turf was expected to be a leveller. Stratford, finally assembling close to its strongest line-up, started strongly. The mid-field and defence have got a lot closer in recent weeks and this took space from the Boys High attack.
Probing runs from Scott Williams and Jayden Roodbeen started to open up the Boys High circle. Lesley Longstaff put Stratford one up after three minutes. Quickly pressing up and creating turnovers in the damp sideline channels was providing Stratford with surprisingly good attacking ball. Ethan Lehmann, Rhys Wineera and Curtis Boyde were continuing to grow as an attacking unit. Goals from Roodbeen, with a penalty corner variation, Longstaff from a ball into the circle and Williams, hammering a Penalty Corner into the bottom corner of the goal, saw Stratford streak away to a 4-0 lead at halftime.
Immediately from the second half whistle Wineera passed back to John Neild, forward to Wineera, touched on to Roodbeen who broke down field, crossed at the top of the circle and moved from Wineera to Longstaff for the goal of the match. Ten seconds after halftime, 5-0 and the game was sealed.
The shape went out of the game for a while and Boys High gained some field position. A penalty corner to Boys High created a penalty stroke that was converted for a consolation goal with 10 minutes to go. In the last minute, Stratford entered the top of the circle, Boyde providing a lovely "pass" for Cameron Tofts to "tap in". The final score 6-1, a comprehensive statement from Stratford. A team finally showing that they are getting ready for finals hockey at the end of the round.
This week's games: Friday - A Women vs Hawera at 6.30pm, Avon vs Masters at 8pm. Saturday - B Women vs Northern United Red at 2.30pm, Broadway vs Te Kiri Rovers at 4pm, A Men vs Te Kiri Rangers at 5.30pm.