Hawks Ladies 4s arrived in the changing room at Tilsley Park ready to face Abingdon. We were missing a few familiar faces as none of us expected to still be playing this late in the season but the cavalry were on hand to ensure that we still had a fantastic team of 14 determined players. The result of this game would decide third place in the league.
For the first ten minutes, it was stalemate with both sides testing the goalkeepers early on. Evelyn was forced to clear an aerial ball using a left-handed tennis volley as the ball looped over everyone else but was due to land right in front of her goal with one of the Abingdon forwards chasing it at pace. She was relieved that she had been to tennis training this week!
Hawks were determined to develop the transfer across the pitch; something which has been lacking in recent games. We know that we can use this to great effect so we soon regained our confidence through some steady, accurate passing across the back. Emily Taylor showed maturity, Phil Williams and Caroline Baggs anticipated the interceptions and kept the incoming forwards at bay. Vicky Easton kept the right option open, ‘pre-scanning’ the next pass to the players further up the pitch.
We then began to transfer the ball through Catherine Taylor and the other mid-fielders and it was through one of these superb examples of team play which finally broke the deadlock. A run from Sophie Dawes down the left found Sandra Satterly in the circle. The Abingdon keeper ‘logged’ and Sandra calmly lifted the ball on the reverse stick over her and into the back of the net.
It was still 1-0 at half time and we knew that we couldn’t afford to be complacent. We had had a lot of chances in front of goal but had been thwarted by the Abingdon keeper. We needed a change in plan; using the baseline of the pitch but pulling the ball back to incoming attackers rather than forcing a shot from a narrow angle.
The second half started much the same as the first but Hawks’ confident passing in all areas of the pitch opened up more opportunities. Goals number 2 and 3 were both fantastic team goals; the first starting with a free hit from Emily on the left being transferred across the pitch, finding Vicky in acres of space, using good leads from Paola, Emma and Olivia and beautifully finished off by Rowena on the left post.
The third involved some good ‘one-two’ passes between Caroline Baggs and Sophie Dawes with another great finish by Rowena.
3-0 was not enough for Hawks and the fourth goal came thanks to Caz Batten who struck confidently from the top of the D. Again, virtually every member of the team contributed to the lead-up. 4-0 to the Mighty Oxford Hawks 4s!
A triumphant team huddle after the final whistle confirmed that these 3 points would mean that we would definitely finish 3rd in a league to which we were only promoted a year ago. We’d played some great hockey against some tough opposition and there was still one more re-arranged match to come – Sonning, away at 10:30 in three weeks time? Bring it on!
Thanks to Charlie Baggs for his excellent umpiring and Phil Williams for a yummy MOM cake!