There were a few nerves in the changing rooms at Fortress BRN this Saturday as Hawks Ladies 3s prepared to face the youthful Uni 2s team on the near pitch. The uni had won 2/2 of our encounters last season, but Hawks had some new young blood of our own in the form of several up and coming juniors. Once we were sure we really did have a keeper (and a whole 12 other players), we were determined to put together a fine performance for the home crowd.
Skipper Lizzie (ever so slightly less youthful after last week's birthday celebrations) briefed the team to focus and make the ball do the work, and we set out to put together some of the excellent play we've demonstrated in recent games (ideally this time with some more goals to show for it).
Hawks were energetic from the whistle, but the Uni had some skillful players and outclassed Hawks in the first ten minutes. However, Hawks built some sustained pressure with big performances from midfielders Katie, Megan, Rosie, Alex, and Emily. Up front we benefitted from the pace and innovation of Gemma, Giorgia, Emma, and Captain Lizzie, who were constantly threatening the Oxford D.
Towards the end of the first half, an outstanding break from Emily near the halfway line saw her outpace everything the Uni could throw at her. Following a bit of encouragement from the sideline, Emily found herself in the D, unopposed, and took a textbook slap shot at goal. The keeper found the first save but had nothing left to deflect Emily's rebound, which went neatly into the back of the goal. 1-0 to Hawks! It took a while to sink in for Emily and once she had done apologising for not putting away the first shot, and calling the second a fluke, we hope she can appreciate her extremely timely goal.
Hawks went into half time in the unenviable position of being 1-0 up, but a good talk from Lizzie and we were ready to go again. Full backs Nicky and Lucy were challenged by a few great breaks from the Uni but put in some excellent block tackles, allowing Kim and the midfield to outlet back into the Hawks attack, and Olivia was on hand making a couple of excellent and important saves to maintain the scoreline.
One of the Uni players was unlucky to pop the ball up into her own head, and that's where it started to unravel for the Uni. Giorgia scored an excellent second goal for Hawks, getting right into the ugly zone (cheers Rory) and spinning to tuck the ball under the keeper. From thereon in, Hawks put in a dominant performance and were rarely threatened. When a second Oxford Uni player went off to injury, leaving Oxford temporarily with nine, Hawks continued the pressure and were rewarded in the last minutes of the game with a third goal from Lizzie, taking the score to 3-0.
All in all, a fine performance from Hawks, making the most of the talent of our new junior players in combination with the seasoned defence and midfield.
Well done to Katie & Gemma, who shared MOM.