An early start away at promotion contenders Slough proved not conducive to the L4s playing their best hockey. It was always going to be a challenge – Hawks had won their last 4 matches, but Slough had won their last 12! The match started spritely enough, however, with a lovely build up down the right wing involving Sophie and Emily creating an opportunity for Milly to have a good thwack at goal (sadly parried by the keeper), one of the Slough defenders being left damaged on the deck in the general melee that followed.
After the injury enforced break, Slough demonstrated that they meant business when one of their forwards took it upon herself to waltz past our defenders before casually lifting the ball over a prostrated Evelyn. 1-0 down within 10 minutes. Hawks then came under sustained pressure from a pink Slough tide, but the defence held firm for a further 10 minutes until a Slough move down the left flank culminated in an airborne shot that found the back of the net.
Hawks mustered a few breakouts in search of the Slough goal, with Megan in good form on the right wing. Sandra created a rare chance in front of goal, but with too many defenders surrounding her to get the shot away. The pink tide continued to flow in one direction, Slough proving strong on both flanks, but Hawks were starting to get the measure of them, the defence making some epic challenges, surviving numerous penalty corners, Evelyn pulling off some great saves and Phil executing an awesome body check!
A more determined and structured Hawks team took to the field in the second half. Although the Slough pink tide kept coming, it was met with strong resistance from Becky (who played a blinder). The midfield kicked in with increased vigour, Catherine, Vicky, Caroline and Nicky upping distribution. Megan and Milly were strong and feisty and Sophie was everywhere, connecting with Emily, Caz and Sandra. Row was given damage limitation duty, man-marking the ‘fast young one’, and supporting the attack whenever the chance arose. Slough were wise to the long ball forward, however, meaning Rebecca couldn’t get her usual through service. It felt like a real achievement that nearly 15 minutes went by before Slough scored another well-taken goal from a short. In the blink of an eye, however, a shot from the top of the D made it 4-0.
Hawks kept working hard and creating chances in the last quarter. At times, there were 10 players defending inside the 25 and Evelyn needed to make an epic triple save to keep the score respectable - but a match dominated by defence ended on the attack, Caz out left finding Rebecca in a good position, then a half-chance for Emily connecting with a wicked drive into the D from the 25 by Vicky. Reasons to be cheerful: still holding third slot (although now 6 points behind Slough and Witney), and with a game in hand.