Hawks ladies 3s headed back to Marlow determined to maintain league success, only a few weeks after a narrow defeat in a pre-season friendly.
We set off from Oxford in driving rain, which only got worse as we approached Marlow Sports Club. Thankfully we had plenty of support from spectators, including our tiniest supporter, Rory, who seems happy enough to hang out in the changing room with us!
As the game began, the pitch was waterlogged in a couple of spots and Hawks found it difficult to generate the zippy pace and form which brought us so much success in recent weeks. Marlow started strongly and dominated the game in the first half, packing their defensive D but finding gaps in the Hawks press which allowed them to have several runs on goal. Hawks keeper Emily thwarted several Marlow shots with her nimble footwork and quick reactions, keeping Hawks in the game. Captain Jacs took the tactical decision to come on in the full back line to calm things down after a period of frantic defending, and Hawks were able to settle, with strong work from Mel, Katie M, Megan, and Helen in the half back line.
The transfers we had been looking for started to come off which freed up our determined inners Saskia, Becca, and Bonnie to work their magic. Hawks started to have more chances up front and put pressure on the Marlow keeper, with Emma, Lizzie, Emily and Beth unlucky not to put away goals.
We went into half time at 0-0 without having won any short corners. As we went into the second half, we knew we had to firm up the press and keep the transfers flowing. Marlow were also determined to score and continued their pressure, with some fabulous saves from Emily earning her MOM. Determined efforts from Megan, Mel, Jacs, Katie C, Helen, and Kim in defence limited the Marlow chances.
Early in the second half, Marlow capitalised on the break as they had been threatening to do, and found a gap on the right hand post to take the score to 0-1. Hawks were gutted to concede their first goal of the season but reacted well and started to build the pressure in Marlow's half and had several near misses in the D, just missing out on the post several times and starting to win, but not convert, short corners.
The change for Hawks came when Helen intercepted a ball in the attacking 25 and drove straight into the D, pulling off a cracking shot which went narrowly wide. We were determined to get back in the game and from that point on looked certain to score. Emily B even ran so hard that her shin pad fell off...
Jacs made an exective decision to put fresh legs on the pitch and after some rapid changes, Hawks moved into a period of attacking play and were eventually rewarded with a goal in the 60th minute, which started out with a tackle deep in our own half, passed to Helen who worked the ball well into the attacking zone, found our attack, for Beth to neatly put away a goal on the right post from a great cross.
At 1-1, Hawks didn't back off and maintained the pressure despite a few counterattacks. We missed a couple of tap ins on the post but remained focussed. Finally, in the closing minutes of the game, Becca intercepted a hit from Marlow, drove into the D, and even though completely surrounded by Marlow players, found space for a reverse stick strike from a difficult angle - and scored! 2-1 to Hawks with only moments to play!
MOM was Emily M for keeping us at 0-0 under a lot of pressure in the first half. DOD vote went to Katie for managing to put her shirt on backwards.