Fresh from last week's 6-1 victory over Thame, Hawks ladies 3s were aiming to maintain their top of the league position with 3 points from Newbury & Thatcham 1s, who came up to Prem 2 this season. Newbury have had mixed results in this league but have had some huge victories and are obviously able to put goals away.
Captain Jacs briefed us to keep moving the ball around and to make the most of short corner chances after lots of practice at training, and to make sure that we used the underarm ball on the baseline to pass for a better angle on goal. Hawks began the game with a lot of positivity and soon found ourselves with attacking opportunities. The inners and forwards linked smoothly together with brilliant complementary leads, and the strong midfield of Rosie, Nicky, Katie M and Mel proved too much for Newbury to break through.
After 8 minutes, Hawks were awarded a short corner and it turns out training really does pay off, because it was golden. Bonnie's insertion was flawless, the trap was perfect, then the slip left was timed perfectly for a powerful cross to Bethany on the right post - who tapped it in just inside the post for a well-deserved goal. Buoyed by the goal, Hawks built on the early success with periods of well-controlled play, but were unable to get the ball across the goal line. With a tendency to go back into areas of trouble and a few too many intercepted passes, Hawks let Newbury back into the game and faced a few worrying attacks on goal which were ably dealt with by Megan, who boldly charged down the ball to the edges of the D and kept the scoreline at 1-0 in Hawks' favour.
Hawks kept up the attack and were unlucky not to put away a few shorties and 1 v 1s with Newbury's keeper. Just before halftime, Saskia's efforts were rewarded with a whack on the hand by a Newbury stick, so she had to retire with an ice pack to the shiny new Hawks benches. (Hope it's not broken, Saskia!)
The half time whistle went with Hawks certain that they had the edge and could put away more goals. Sue and Jacs reminded us that we looked dangerous when passing the ball around and had the edge with numbers and fitness. We went back into the game on a big 10 and within moments, Becca had been hit on the foot (the recently broken foot) and we had to go hunting for more ice packs. With our 15 strong squad now reduced to 13, Hawks were even more determined to find the goal, cutting down on careless passes and finding some well-timed balls into space down the line.
After a stressful 40 minutes holding 1-0, Hawks went into a series of short corners. We tried every trick in the book and executed some brilliant routines, but couldn't find the back of the goal due to good defence from Newbury's left back and GK. Newbury broke for another attack which was ably dealt with by the full backs, and suddenly we were back in their D for another attacking short. Lizzie stepped up for a straight strike - and she had her scoring face on. A perfectly executed insertion and stop set Lizzie up for an almight strike on the inside of the right post: GOAL!
At 2-0 Hawks relaxed a little bit and were able to find our second half form (though we'd make life easier if we could find it in the first half!) and we were suddenly in complete control of the game. Great team play built up into a series of sustained attacks, which found Bonnie in possession of the ball on the oppo's baseline. Everyone started yelling - UNDERARM! PASS TO THE P-SPOT - BONNIE! - at which point Bonnie coolly swept the ball. Right behind the keeper into the back of the goal. At which point we all took it back and pretended we'd just been cheering her on.
At 3-0 Newbury ran out of steam and Hawks were able to intercept, nip in front, and generally control the run of play. Bonnie inexplicably found herself back in the same position beside the goal and based on recent experience took a punt on scoring with another sweep. And found the back of the net to make it 4-0!
Nice work team!
MOTM was Lizzie for her determination all over the pitch and her very timely goal which opened the game back up for Hawks, and the 3s went into second position in the league based on goal difference.