Bereft of any youth this week the Mens 6th XI faced a Tring side who were determined to take some points today to avoid the relegation spot. Such was the situation facing the 6's that Darby was drafted in to goal keeper for the first time in ages.
Skipper Spittles gave his usual Churchillian pre match address with some caustic but factually correct observations about the squad's lack of pace. Spittles added that with a bare 11 players we'd need to draw on all our reserves, only to retract this statement as he planned the line up to find a 12th man had cropped up from somewhere. Our lack of pace was much in evidence in the first 15 mins as Tring showed us how to pass the ball and used their pace to undo us with 3 early goals whilst also assisted by some fairly dire Hawks passing. And so at half time we tried to re group and do justice to a glorious sunny spring afternoon and put some honour and commitment into the game.
As is often the case with the 6th XI it is that cliched 'game of 2 halves'. Hawks came out with a new sense of pride and every player stepped up to the mark. At the back Darby made some great saves to justly earn his MOM accolade. Spittles had to retire injured having taken a blow to his arm, and so we were back to core of 11. Rodders dropped back to help the back line with Dave Wells who played a blinder with a stick that stuck to the ball like velcro. Hawks started to put some good passing moves together with Cairns/ Robbins/ Chair and Bishop linking well and imposing themselves on the game. Up front Nico was put on point duty to run down the defense at 16 hits and the pressure started to pay off. Shirley and Elliott marauded (ok ....drifted about) in the D and harried the ball carrier if they drifted too close (actually they had to be quite close).
And so the game changed and we had more possession which resulted in a goal in the first 5 minutes. Venables received the ball at the top of the D and confused both himself and the defender by drifting to his left and unleashed a speculative reverse tomahawk (ok.... sweep) which slammed into the back net (ok....arced goal wards to be deflected by a defenders stick past the goal keeper). It was a miracle anyone in the 6th XI could get down that low or get back up again. Here we go...1-3.
Buoyed by this the 6th XI stormed forward again. This time Elliott received the ball close to the top of the D and with the advancing keeper to beat he deftly scooped the ball which ricocheted in to the far right top corner (and out again). The umpire was on the line and in the absence of goal mouth technology the goal was given (never in doubt). Game on....2-3.
Tring were having none of it though and eager to secure all 3 points secured a short corner which Hawks were unable to clear. Their lead advanced to 2-4.
Relentless, Hawks pressed again and this time secured a short corner of their own. Previous attempts had failed due to poor ball control but this time we had the routine carefully worked out....Elliott to deliver the ball out to Cairns(stick stop)...Shirley to dummy a shot, slip left to Venables who would unleash hell ....simples! And so to reality....Elliot scuffs the ball out wide left to a surprised Venables who gets a pass to Shirley and then to Cairns who has drifted right and manages to lift the ball over the keeper. We don't care how they come....3-4!
Hawks pressed forward again but showed their Achilles heel (literally and metaphorically) as the youth element of Tring broke through and took Darby on with a one on one which was lifted impressively to put them 3-5 ahead. And so the game ended. Hawks were delighted to have at least got the upper hand in the 2nd half and retired to the bar for the Eng v Wales game. Thanks to David Cook and Jeff for umpiring and we hope Spittles arm is ok.....Thanks to Clive Jones for the photos.