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A tale of two halves: the worst of times, the best of times...

03 December 2016, 12:00, Banbury Road North (Near)

Men's 3s 4 - 4 Amersham & Chalfont Men's 1s

Following a bitterly cold week, the 3s were relieved that temperatures had improved sufficiently for Saturday’s clash with high-flying Amersham to take place. However despite the improvement in weather, there was still a rather frosty atmosphere in the changing rooms pre-match, as Ebenezer Baldock launched a one man revolt against the Dunleavy regime. The team were aghast; a tearful Martin Pickup had to leave the room, muttering a hastily invented excuse about “forgetting his astros”. Nevard presumably possesses clairvoyant abilities, as he didn’t bother to turn up until after the incident. Dunners, I suppose, will have to take on the role of Bob Cratchit for this shoehorned narrative, though his diminutive stature and permanent state of injury would be more suited to Tiny Tim. Anyway, Cratchit soldiered on with the team talk and informed the squad that Amersham scored the majority of their goals through direct balls to the forwards or penalty corners. 

15 minutes into the match and rather predictably, Hawks had conceded a goal from each of these sources  A long ball down the right resulted in Tom Biggs finding himself home alone against two Amersham forwards, and they duly converted for the opener. To their credit, Hawks replied almost immediately as a Dan Bradley drag flick found the net, but the away side soon restored their lead with a PC of their own. It was all a bit frantic from the home side, who were guilty of trying to force the ball on a number of occasions. On the flanks, Bradley and Lovibond seemed to be competing for who could run into the most flat stick tackles – the DOD vote later giving Bradley the win. With Amersham looking very dangerous on the counter, Hawks did eventually learn their lesson, and grew into the match as the half wore on. There was a lot of pretty build up play around the 25, but clear cut chances were few and far between and 2-1 remained the score until the break.

The second half proved to be a real ding dong affair, and Hawks came racing out of the blocks. The miserly Scrooge allowed the Amersham midfield no time on the ball, winning possession and starting an attack down the right. A pinged cross by Hawks flashed across goal, and up stepped The Ghost of Hawks past: Mark Crowley, who slotted home to level the scores. The home side continued to press, but with the visitors’ counter attack still proving effective it turned into a real end to end battle, and another penalty corner flick meant Hawks would have to come from behind a third time. Their chance to do so arrived when Marky Mark fell victim to a clunky crunch of a tackle after he’d picked the pocket of a defender, with a stroke awarded. Unfortunately Jake Taylor displayed a little too much Christmas spirit, and his generous donation straight down the middle was gratefully accepted by the keeper.

This gift was soon followed by cards issued by the portly gentlemen: a green for Nevard and a slightly harsh yellow for Foster meant the home side were on the back foot again, and yet another PC flick took the score to 4-2. Hawks were on the ropes and but for some excellent stops from Biggs, Amersham would have been out of sight. With 10 minutes on the clock things were looking ominous until an intervention from Cameron Saint, aka The Ghost of Hawks Present – and a present indeed it was. With no clear danger, a loose touch from the centre back let Saint nick the ball off him, before marching into the D and sliding it under the onrushing keeper. Sensing they were in with a chance, Cratchit implemented a fairly questionable 1-6-3 formation which could have been disastrous. Fortunately, there was a final twist in the tale provided by The Ghost of Hawks Yet To Come, in the form of Harry Venables. Picking up the ball on halfway, the youngster drove forwards into the 25 before firing a superb reverse stick ball into the D, and a deft deflection into the top corner from Bradley made it four apiece.

The remaining five minutes saw both sides pile men forwards in search of a winner (fairly terrifying for both defences) but no further goals came and a draw was, in the end, a fair result. Those familiar with the story will be aware that Scrooge and Cratchit share a pint in the bar afterwards and a valuable lesson is learned – in this instance, that Hawks have the ability to compete with any team in this league. The final 3s game before the winter break sees them travel to Eastcote, and a win would set them up excellently for the second half of the season.

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