Thame away is always a tough local derby and with only two points separating the teams in the league this looked like it should be a competitive fixture. We travelled with a squad of 15 including 7 colts and umpire Dave Wells.
Hawks started hesitantly and started making some basic handling errors and giving possession to Thame. Our formation generally packs the midfield and defence with age and experience and a forward line of youth and enthusiasm. This should ensure we keep the ball from our D but moving out of defence we were guilty of One Directional play….firing the ball up field to our youth section rather than building an attack. Or we would get stuck in the wide channels and try and drive through players rather than recycle the ball. Too often we were dispossessed and subjected to Thame counter attacks, one of which resulted in a short corner from which Thame scored through a well struck hit.
Half time came and it was still 1-0 to Thame. Captain Venables reinforced basics of passing, using width and ball control. Less One Direction and more of a Robbie Williams ‘Let me entertain you’ vibe….you get the drift….bear with…
In the 2nd half Hawks took the fight to Thame with an assured display from Will Smith in centre midfield. Will started to run the show with better distribution and surging runs to the D which Thame could only answer with stick tackles leading to free hits and short corners. Hawks couldn’t convert though despite several practice runs. Eventually a long corner saw a pass to Will on the edge of the D and a strike at goal which was saved by a foot on the line…P Flick. Will stepped up assuredly slipped the ball to the left corner. After a few more short corner warm ups Hawks secure the lead from a Will Smith strike at the top of the D. Will continued his mazy runs frustrating the Thame defence but the game started to get physical and the umpires called order and the skipper called for subs and gave Will a rest. Hawks then continued to press forward into the Thame half with increasingly assured played from Harry V, Jamie W and John B jnr as Thame tired. This led to some great interplay resulting in John B snr driving to the D and slipping the ball to Harry V who slapped the ball past the approaching keeper. At 3-1 with 10 mins to go Hawks tried to keep composed but gifted Thame some short corners through desperate defending. We held out though and were all pleased to come away with the win.
The change in the 2nd half was exemplified by the fact that keeper Aravind only had two touches. The younger players continue to shine. John Black jnr (aka Mr Tickle) had a great game and for a lad with short arms has an incredible ability to tackle and frustrate defenders. Jamie Wells had a good return to the team and was unlucky not to get a reverse stick shot on goal. Harry V continues to add to his goal tally and was as determined as ever. Ollie Webb is increasing with confidence and delivered some great balls into the D. Charlie Colebrook showed good stick skills and perseverance and George Chambers played strongly in both midfield and attack using his fitness and speed to good effect.
Man of the match this week goes to Will Smith but with special commendations to all the juniors for their second half effort. Big thanks also to Dave Wells for his assertive umpiring.