The Stamford Strollers A team arrived at Nene Valley Community Centre, Peterborough in the midst of a heavy rain storm that had been coming down in torrents since early morning. It looked as if wet weather tyres would be the order of the day as pools of water started to collect around the edge of the Nene Valley Astroturf surface, if indeed their games would ever go ahead with further heavy rain being forecast along with lightning strikes which could put the afternoon fixtures in jeopardy.
Thankfully, as the team prepared for their first match the rain relented and the sun even started to peak through the clouds at times.
Match 1 – Boston United Community 3, Stamford Strollers A 7
This first matchup of the day was with local rivals and our friends from Boston, who recently achieved a third-place playoff in the WFA National Cup, so a highly competitive game was expected.
Strollers got into their stride very quickly in the game with Nick Hunter giving them an early advantage courtesy of a crisp turn & shot into bottom left-hand corner of the Boston goal. This spurred Boston into an immediate response as they rallied and got an equaliser.
The game then changed in what seemed like an instant, with two more quickfire Nick Hunter strikes to bag his first Strollers hat-trick. Paul Blakemore followed up with another after a quick 1-2 gave him a chance for a strike on goal, then Hunter bagged his fourth to make it 5-1 to Strollers.
If Stamford had any thoughts of a job already done, these were quickly dispelled as Boston hit back with 2 quick goals to cut the deficit to 5-3 by the end of the half.
Half time changes were made with Charles Walker & Nigel Reeve coming on for Paul Blakemore and Lee Tillen. In a hard fought second period, Strollers went on to achieve further advantage with goals from Ian Ross and Nick Hunter.
So the final score was 7-3 to Strollers; a fantastic result and a great performance.
Match 2 – Stamford Strollers A 3, Norwich Community Sports Foundation B 0.
After the exhilarating win against a tough Boston team, Strollers might have hoped for a bit of relief in their second fixture of the day. No such luck, next up were last seasons champions, Norwich Community’ B.
This turned out to be a very good, hard-fought contest between two strong teams.
Again, Stamford got off to a quick start, with a blast from Nick Hunter giving them a 1-0 lead. This seemed to spur Norwich into life and the next 5 minutes saw them have almost all of the play and territory, with Strollers backs to the wall and struggling to get and keep the ball. 2 outstanding saves from Paul Newiss kept Norwich at bay during this testing period of the game.
As the game returned to a little more balance, Strollers forced 2 great saves from the Norwich keeper, one from a screamer of a shot by Paul Blakemore denied only by the keepers fingertips.
With half time fast approaching, an uncharacteristic passing error from Stamford presented the ball to a Norwich player who found himself 1 on 1 with keeper. In an attempt to remedy the error and save a possible goal opportunity, a challenge from Nick Hunter was deemed to be severe enough for a blue card to be issued, resulting in Nick serving 2 minutes in the “sin bin”.
During what could have been a decisive 2 minute period, the Strollers defended magnificently to hold on to their 1-0 advantage till half time.
At half time Strollers made changes with Iain Ross & Nigel Reeve joining the fray. Norwich continued to press hard for an equaliser, but the few half chances that they managed to create were efficiently snuffed out by the Strollers defence.
With the match moving into its final stages, 2 quick goals were added from Iain Ross & Nigel Reeve to put the result beyond doubt, giving Strollers a great win against the current PDFL champions.
Matchday 2 then, proved to be a highly successful one for Stamford, with very polished performances both defensively and going forward in both of their games.
Everyone performed magnificently throughout the day, but special mention must go to Nick Hunter for his 6 goals during the day, 5 of those in double quick time in the game against Boston. Also, Lee Tillen for his unselfish passing & movement throughout the day which was outstanding.
These two results leave Stamford Strollers A with 4 wins from 4 so far in the league. Superb work Fellas! Also...thank you to those of you who turned pout to support the guys on what was an atrocious day weather wise....glad they were able to bring some warmth and sunshine into your Sunday!
Squad for Match Day 2 :
Paul Newiss (GK, Captain)