It's a very strange league South Regional one! With a couple of possible exceptions every team seems capable of beating everyone else on their day. So, Eastcote, beaten by Hawks 2's a fortnight ago, now sit top of the pile despite having lost three games out of nine. Hawks having surrendered 13 points already this season are only 4 points behind but languish mid table. Any side that can put a decent run together could win the League and there are 13 games to go. Thus every match is approached with an air of hope and expectation.
On Saturday the chums travelled to Ashford buoyed by the joyous midweek news that Stotty had declared himself fit to play after several frustrating weeks on the sideline with a troublesome hamstring. I say "joyous" but joy tempered with some scepticism since this was not his first such announcement and, on at least one of those previous occasions, his "return" had lasted just 5 minutes until he broke down again.
So, after some penetrating questioning as to the realistic state of his leg Stotty was included as a late addition to the side. That development in itself gave rise to some further concerns. Which Stotty would turn up? The Stotty who has more than enough talent to boss games at this level or Mr Tom (frustrating) Lawson who can resemble nothing so much as an irritating tic. As it turned out I needn't have worried because Stotty was at his best and produced a highly influential showing in midfield which allowed him to nick Man of the Match from the increasingly dependable Finn Dunleavy. See photo 4 which shows him in magisterial form.
In fact the entire side played really rather well for most of the game against an Ashford side who were better than their League position suggested they might be ( but there again they had won their previous two games against sides higher in the League than either of us - see what I mean about this League?).
At half time after a quite splendid team performance from everyone Hawks were deservedly 3-1 to the good wth open play goals from Jake Taylor and James Cutter and a shortie from Dan Bradley. The second half was not so good as Ashford got an early goal and the chums lost their way a bit, allowing the home side to pick up an equaliser and thus a share of the spoils. We could and probably should have nicked it at the end but it was not to be.
Everyone - quite properly - was a bit crestfallen at the end but there was much in the chums' performance to admire not least Connor Payne in defence, Knoxy in midfield and the much improved Cameron up front. Altogether a good performance on the whole against a "tidy" (Welsh for half decent) Ashford side. If we play like that again we might just put a run together. Oxford next week will provide a stern examination of our capabilities.
Interesting statistic - Ashford fielded a player who has scored 220 South Hockey League goals - Hawks top scorer has 3!!!
MoM - Stotty.
Thanks to Steve McCarthy www.soccersnaps.co.uk for the excellent photos. The rest of the pics can be viewed at https://www.flickr.com/photos/ahcpics/albums but as the Ashford team photographer the emphasis is of pics of those players.