With floodlights on for the start of a wintry match, Hawks revved up to complete the double over Reading 3As, their pre-Christmas mission being to remain in promotion contention. Sophie D and Caz had early chances, both shots grazing the outside of the post, and it wasn’t until the 12th minute that Hawks got a breakthrough when Caroline and Row combined well on the left, Sophie B cannily linking to play the ball on to Gabs, whose shot was shepherded into the goal by Caz.
Buoyed by success, the goals started to flow for Hawks, Rebecca connecting with Sophie T’s shot from short range to make sure it converted. Phil claimed an assist for the third goal, which flowed the length of the pitch; her defensive clearance picked up by Row, who drove up the left wing, laying off to Emily, who crossed to Mum, perfectly positioned on her favourite far post for a trademark tap in. 3-0 and starting to look comfortable.
Eager to consolidate their position, Hawks maintained pressure in the attacking third. With half time approaching, Row had a shot saved off the line, then Caz made it four, putting her own icing on the cake after a lovely solo run.
Reading did threaten occasionally, particularly down the right, some of their youngsters showing good pace, but Catherine marshalled her midfield resources effectively to stifle their ambitions. April, Becky and Phil commanded the defensive third, making numerous timely interceptions. Olivia comfortably tidied up the few stray balls that ventured her way and was possibly grateful for the chance to warm up a bit when Reading were awarded their first penalty corner as the whistle blew for half time,
Hawks started the second half with sustained attacking pressure, resulting in a series of penalty corners, but Reading had adjusted tactically, ‘parking their bus’ in front of goal and were grateful for the performance of their keeper in keeping Hawks out. From this phase, Rosie came closest to scoring when her shot ricocheted off the post.
In her penultimate match before heading off on her travels, Sophie B played with customary full commitment, both on her feet and prostrated on the pitch - and received her customary green card mid-way through the second half for her verbal protest following a number of consecutive stick and body checks as she went on a midfield charge.
As darkness fell and the ice crystals started to glimmer on the pitch, Hawks were awarded another run of short corners. On the fourth of these, April scored with a cracking shot from the top of the D. 5-0 up. Much as Phil had earlier claimed a defensive assist, so should Becky for the sixth goal – a clearance wide out of the D to Row, who slapped the ball up the pitch to Emily in so much space she was starting to feel lonely. Despite the added challenge of adjusting position to receive the ball after it deflected off Dizzy’s stick en route, Emily drove to the top of the D and, with impressive composure, smacked a wicked shot that flew past the Reading goalie.
Job done. Hawks top of the table over the Christmas break. Played 11, Won 9, Lost 2, Goal difference 32. Ho ho ho!