The Hawks convoy set off towards Banbury along the A4074 in great spirits refreshed from half term and with a squad of 15. Henman took up the vanguard in his very own ‘battle bus’ customised LR Defender but was soon overtaken by messrs Stoker and Wells and Gordon in more speedy craft. Those in the battle bus soon wished they had opted for other transport as Henners eclectic music rang out. The 25 mile journey to Banbury seemed much longer but it’s all part of the hockey experience and I’m sure the boys education is all the richer for listening to Crash Test Dumbies…..
Banbury are top of the table and despite fielding a squad which including a sprinkling of youth it was clear from their set up that the juniors would only join in once the path to victory was assured. Hawks were boosted by some of our earlier season juniors including Harry Venables, Charlie Colebrooke, Ed Wilkinson, Freddie Sunderland, Ollie Dunn and Ollie Webb. The formation was set as usual with the wise heads of Roger Dunn, Mark Stoker and Dave Wells at the back. Henman, James Mayo, Venables snr and Barney took control of the middle of the park and Nathan Sutton was ushered up front to give us more firepower which had been lacking in the post Xmas games. Jack Sobey was a late call up in goal.
It was a cracking game from start to finish. Banbury were strong throughout the field but Hawks were eager and pressed at every opportunity. All the juniors showed their skill and determination and grew in confidence. This resulted in an early goal for Hawks following an effective ‘press’ from Hawks at a Banbury 16 hit. Harry V stole the ball from the Banbury defence, took on two defenders and then rounded the keeper for an assured goal. It was then end to end stuff. Banbury persevered and Hawks succumbed to 2 goals from their own defensive errors. Henners kept up a steady stream of strongly hit passes to the front line, together with the occasional aerial and the equally frequent ‘not so’ aerial. Freddie showed some good skills down the wings and the two Ollies were both industrious.
In the final third of the game Hawks started to get some periods of good possession and this culminated in some great interplay between the young forwards. Another break by Hawks saw a great pass from Harry V to Charlie Colebrooke who rounded the keeper and from all of 6 yards managed to fluff the shot on the open goal by some impressive margin. But we didn’t give up and another passage of open play saw Ed Wilkinson launch a perfectly timed ball straight to Nathan Sutton who deflected the ball past the keeper into the goal. Another example of Ed’s fine reading of the game which he displayed throughout the match.
And so it ended 2-2 with a well-deserved point for Hawks 7’s who have played some great hockey without much reward this second half of the season. Banbury served a good helping of pie and beans and we enjoyed re living Charlie Colebrooke’s ‘if only’ moment. MOM went to Harry V for his goal and sterling work throughout the game. DOD went to Henners purely based on his comic performance. And so we trundled back to BRN in the ‘battle bus’ in good spirits but luckily the strain of the engine on the M40 drowned out Henners next favourite CD…….