End of the road for 1st XI
The spring term saw Stamford School 1stXI play 22 fixtures, winning 19 and reaching the semi-finals of the U’18s HA Plate. With a number of the Stamford starting line-up playing hockey over the Easter holidays on the Swifts tour to Holland, the team were confident that a place in the Plate final was achievable, especially with a large gathering of support at the Stamford High School Astro. The opponents travelling to Stamford were the mighty sports school that is Millfield School.
Stamford, like in previous rounds of the Plate versus Chigwell and Felsted, really imposed themselves on the opposition from the first minute. Fluid, attacking hockey down both flanks created chances for winger Tom MacDonald in the Millfield D. However, unlike in the Spring term, Stamford were left wanting in the D and for all this pressure, failed to break the deadlock.
Millfield began to assert themselves in the game and with their first, sustained attack managed to open the scoring. A raised ball into the D, caused Stamford issues and allowed the Millfield attacker to trap the ball and round Dan Sproul to make 1-0 to the visitors. Millfield managed to double their advantage at the back end of the first-half, through good interchange play down the left earning a short corner, which was duly converted. Stamford, picked their chins up and forced a short corner right on the stroke of half-time, through captain Joe Chedd. A pivotal moment to get Stamford back in the game, an erroneous push out allowed Millfield to deflect the ball wide and enter the break, 2 goals to the good.
The pace of the second half matched that of the first, the Stamford forward line of Richardson, Franklin and MacDonald hurried the Millfield back line into giving away possession inside their own half, thus allowing the home side to start their attacks high up the pitch. Orchestrated by Joe Chedd coupled with the industry of Tom Davies, a crucial short corner was won due to an overly physical tackle from Millfield. With the opposition reduced to 10 men and short corner, Stamford sensed that this was their opportunity to force their way back into the game. Drag-flicker James Dodworth did the necessary and converted to make it 2-1 and give the home support hope.
Pivotal moment number two came immediately from the restart with Millfield hitting straight back from down the left-flank through an exceptional reverse stick cross allowing for a full length dive to slot home at the back post. For all the good work in the previous 10 minutes, Stamford now had it all to do again. Stamford went again and applied pressure, good skill by Sidwell allowed Chedd to pick the ball up on the left hand side of the 25. Drilling an early ball into the D, found MacDonald who expertly deflected the ball into the roof of the net. 3-2 – renewed hope.
Millfield soaked up the onslaught that Stamford produced and hit on the break exceptionally well and a goalkeeping error allowed Millfield to reinstate their 2 goal advantage. With Stamford tiring, Millfield hit on the break with regular occurrence and were clinical in front of D, extending their lead to 7-2 by the time the fulltime whistle went.
Stamford School Hockey Coach, Mr Brendan Morris, said: “The Stamford 1st XI have had a phenomenal season, both in terms of results and the style of play that they have achieved. They should be extremely proud of their performance against a very strong Millfield 1stXI, where they gave them a really good run for their money for vast swathes of the game.”