After a promising pre-season programme and a victory against Horsham in the National Cup last weekend, Hawks welcomed Old Cranleighans to BRN for their first league fixture of the season. Under the control of returning coach Imran, new manager Neil Biggs and new captain Rob Dunnill, Hawks welcomed back into the squad Tom Godding, Ted Bennett and Kieran Roche who were absent last year, and also welcomed into the fold Oli Lobo, who switched his town/gown allegiance, arriving from the University of Oxford.
Hawks started brightly and dominated the first 15 minutes, camped in OC’s territory. They didn’t convert this pressure into goals though, with Jack Biggs striking a post from a penalty corner, a few near misses and Hawks having a penalty stroke overturned. OC’s eventually settled into the game, but Hawks took the lead after another spell of pressure and Biggs arrowed a low flick into the corner to make the score 1-0. Hawks then looked to extend their lead before half-time, but it was OC’s who struck next and leveling up the score 1-1 going into the half-time interval.
After some wise words from Coach Imran, Hawks looked to control the game in the second half and move the ball quickly to their forward line who were looking dangerous on the break. The game became frantic though and neither side gaining total control. Hawks were disrupted by a green card to Drew Blackburn, who was having a solid game marshaling the Hawks back line, and then another to Dan Rhodes, who then decided to upgrade it to a yellow whilst already sitting on the bench with a few choice words to the umpire. DOD was duly awarded to Rhodes post –game.
Hawks finally regained the lead after Matt Wood brilliantly carried the ball about 50 yards and finally found the final pass, resulting in a tap-in for Thom Sobey. After some resolute defending to keep the lead, Hawks broke down the OC’s end again earning another penalty corner, which Biggs dispatched into the netting to seal a 3-1 win.
A good winning start to the league campaign, with the side knowing they can definitely improve and much more to come over the long season.