It was strange turning up at BRN for a league match on a Tuesday, it’s not very often that we play under floodlights, but with so many games postponed during December/January we are trying to fit them in whenever we can. Thank you the folk that attend club training, both men’s and ladies, as we had to make alternative arrangements for club training to allow the game to take place.
With three games still to play and gaining promotion last weekend, it’s now all about whether we finish first or second. Our opposition, Marlow, have finished third in the league so had a point to prove and travelled with a strong squad. The team talk from Jacs once again talked about “doing the basics excellently”, simple hockey and working hard for each other ….. and if there was just one win to be had, this was it. With the team fired up and hungry for another three points the game started at a tremendous pace.
Both teams were organised, strong in their tackles and were looking for an opening. The inners made up of Emma, Megan and Saskia made some great leads but were closely marked. Katie Merrick was a tower of strength in the centre, dictating the pace of the game and switching play to Becca, Nicky and Gabs who drove into the space to create openings for the forward line. Hawks created the early chances but the Marlow defence held strong. There was very little in the game until Hawks won a penalty corner. Lizzie’s strike at the top of the circle was deflected by Emily on the right post to give Hawks a well-deserved lead.
Within 10 minutes, Hawks were two up; a reverse stick strike from Megan was left by the goalkeeper – I can only assume that she thought it was outside the circle – but the goal was awarded and Hawks began to dominate the game. Marlow created a handful of chances from long balls but were thwarted by tight marking, their penalty corners caused little concern and Olivia had all the angles covered. The forward line of Beth, Lizzie, Bonnie, Emily and Phoebe worked tirelessly to press the ball and Hawks deserved the two goal advantage at half time.
The half-time team talk from 1st XI coach Andy Clark was inspirational and we went out in the second half full of confidence knowing that a win took us closer the division champions. The second half started similar to the first, few chances with both teams trying to exert their dominance. MOM Katie Merrick opened up the pitch with precise passing; where does she get her energy from? Hawks tried to stretch the play but they lost the ball in attack and, after a run down the left side (helped by some nifty footwork!), Marlow suddenly found an overload of players in the Hawks circle and passed the ball into the goal. 2-1 all to play for, and Marlow pressed higher up the pitch pressing defenders Jacs, Katie and April.
Hawks held firm while Marlow threw everything at them going close on a couple of occasions but failed to beat goalkeeper Olivia Clark. With a squad of 16 players on the night, Hawks could refresh the dynamism and took control for the last 15 minutes of the game. Bonnie’s shot looping towards the goal was saved by the out-stretched goalkeeper but she stayed patient and her goal came after receiving a pass from Emily and finished off smartly into the net. 3-1 the points were in the bag. At the final whistle the team were jubilant and thankful of the crowd that supported on the night. Just two games to go – gosh it’s been a long season – but there is a great prize if we pick up 4 points from the final two games.