Bishop's Stortford Community Football Club and Real Stortford begin the 2021-22 youth football season
Elizabeth Dawes was the player of the match as Bishop’s Stortford Community Football Club under-13 girls started the season with a 1-1 draw at Harpenden Jets.
The team are now competing in Hertfordshire Girls Football Partnership, Division Two after a successful Division Four campaign followed by winning their mini group after the post-Covid restart.
Stortford were behind at the break and levelled matters through Dawes’ spectacular long-range strike.
Ella Draper then produced an excellent fingertip save to thwart the Jets and injured herself attempting to smother the loose ball, with Keira Hider having to replace her in goal.
Neither side could find a winner as it ended honours even. Dawes’ creativity and wonder strike earned her the player-of-the-match award.
The under-14 girls were unlucky not to pick up a point as they suffered a 2-1 loss away to Ware in Division Two.
Amy Lenihan gave them the lead with a neat finish following nice build-up play between Gemma Beazley and Tilly Humphreys.
Ware levelled matters within a minute, however, and it did not take them long to go ahead.
Anna Baros put in some important interceptions and Willow Crace made some fine tackles on her debut to keep it at 2-1.
Stortford fought back in the final quarter and were unfortunate not to equalise as Baros went close with several long-range efforts and Macey Brown almost netted on her debut.
Under-18 Rovers showed bags of character and commitment in their 3-1 defeat at FC Comets in Mid-Herts Rural Minors League, Division Two.
Illness and unavailability meant they had only eight players and Billy Martin playing his first game in goal, but they battled hard to fulfil the fixture.
James Caldwell, Luke Hale and Fergus Shinnick defended well, but the Hitchin-based hosts scored twice before the break.
Charlie Fisher took over in goal after the restart and performed well, as had Martin, while the midfield of Jack Frings, who was man of the match, Bryn Henriques and Adam Blair-Park worked tirelessly.
And, after the hosts added a third, Rovers got a deserved consolation when Blair-Park headed in at the back post from a corner.
Jake Lacey scored and was named man of the match as Real Stortford under-16 Bulls began the new campaign with a narrow 3-2 defeat at home to Parsloe Athletic.
The hosts made a slow start to the Mid-Herts Rural Minors League, Division Three contest and fell behind.
A combination of high pressing and fluent passing helped them work their way back into the match, with Lacey's excellent run and finish getting them level by half time.
Bulls continued to impress after the restart, but they had little luck in front of goal and were unfortunate to concede two efforts that had large slices of fortune about them.
The industrious Charlie Baker and creative captain Darragh Flood kept driving them forward and the latter expertly converted a penalty to set up a frantic finale, but they could not find a deserved equaliser.
There was better fortune for Real Stortford Men as they recorded a 2-1 home win over Troll Campbell FC.
The side, who have been promoted into Division Four of the East Herts Corinthian League, were formed to give Real's under-18s another route into the men's game. The current squad includes 20 players who have represented the club at youth level.
Real broke the deadlock late in the first half when Tolu Osiyemi set up Kai Campbell to score after they had missed a host of opportunities, but there was still time for the visitors to equalise following a defensive lapse.
The home team spurned further chances after the restart before Aaron Cameron-Prior's shot was deflected past the visiting goalkeeper.
Real shot-stopper Will Skingley, who made a superb save in the first period, and his defence, marshalled by captain and man-of-the-match Aaron Bonney and Jake Morley, stood firm to secure the points.