On Sunday 27th November two Stamford Stroller squads descended on Nene Valley Community Centre for Match Day 3 of the PDFL Walking Football League.
Stamford Strollers A
Strollers A approached this match day having won all four of their previous fixtures to sit proudly at the top of Division 1.
This match day promised to be a tough one, with matches against the always stubborn and tough opposition from Harborough Town Yellows followed by a “six-pointer” against second place Norwich Community Sports A.
Match 1: Stamford Strollers A 1, Harborough Town Yellows 0
Debutant goalkeeper Lee Takacs, stepping in for the injured Paul Newiss, will have been grateful for some solid defending by his Strollers teammates in the early stages of the match as Harborough started the stronger side.
In possession Strollers failed to get their usual pass and movement game working effectively and it was looking possible that this game could easily slip away from them.
Then, against the run of play, leading goal scorer Nick Hunter scored a goal that seemed to come out of nowhere to give the Strollers an unlikely lead.
More resolute defending followed, both during what remained of the first half, and throughout the second period after Paul Kirby replaced Nigel Reeve at half time.
As a result of the fine defensive display by Strollers, Harborough had very few opportunities to level up the scores until the very last minute of the game when a slick one-two put them in on goal. A low shot into the corner looked to be heading for the net until Lee Takacs made a quick reaction save with his foot to turn the ball past the post for a corner and retain Strollers lead.
So, part one of the day’s double header finished with a 1-0 win for Stamford against a very tough and determined Harborough Town Yellows.
Match 2: Stamford Strollers A 2, Norwich Community Sports Foundation A 1
This fixture against 2nd placed Norwich A was expected to be a tight affair, and so it turned out to be.
In what was a cagey game throughout, few chances were created on both sides of the ball.
It was Strollers who eventually broke the deadlock, with Nick Hunter scoring a fine goal to make it 1-0 to Stamford.
More close competitive action followed, with some good saves being made at each end of the pitch, 2 from the Norwich keeper followed by an excellent stop by Lee Takacs to foil a goal bound Norwich strike.
Norwich seemed to lift their game and find another gear and, after exerting some pressure on the Strollers goal for several minutes, they managed an equaliser with the Norwich striker finding the net after a quick turn and shot, despite being closely marked by two Strollers defenders.
So, at half time the scores were level at 1-1.
In the second half Nigel Reeve came on to replace Iain Ross. Strollers started the half brightly, creating 2 chances that were smartly saved by the Norwich keeper. It was by no means one way traffic though and Strollers Keeper Lee Takacs was called upon to make 2 more saves of his own.
It remained a very close and competitive game right up until the final minute. With time running out for both sides to grasp victory, a free kick was awarded to Strollers close to the Norwich goal area. After a Norwich defender failed to move back the requisite 3 metres despite three requests from the referee, he was issued with a blue card, which means a “sin bin” for at least two minutes and as a result Norwich would have to defend the free kick and negotiate the final seconds of the game a man down.
From the resulting free kick, the ball was played to Nick Hunter who deftly side-stepped the Norwich defence to unleash a shot into the bottom corner of the goal and earn strollers a 2-1 win, maintaining their unbeaten start to the league season.
This was a great day for Strollers A, keeping them top of Division 1 with 6 wins from 6 and a lead of 6 points over second place Norwich A going into Strollers Christmas break.
Squad for the day was…
Lee Takacs (GK)
Paul Kirby (Captain)
Congratulations must go to the entire squad for an outstanding performance, and also special thanks to Paul Kirby and Paul Newiss for Captaining and Managing the squad on the day.
Also, a mention for Lee Takacs who performed admirably in goal on his Strollers debut, and for Nick Hunter who scored all three Strollers goals across the two fixtures.