The thrill of a local derby. Friends playing against each other and plenty of action in both Ds - enough to keep spectators huddled on the touch line in penguin-like groups on a day of BRN Arctic wind-chill casting covetous glances at Becky’s blanket. Hawks U18s were missing some key players for this Home Counties Premier League fixture, but their numbers were bolstered very competently by U16 players drafted in from their preceding match.
The game was more evenly balanced than the 9-0 final score line suggests, Oxford placing the Hawks defence under repeated pressure from open play and penalty corners in the first half, young Emily putting in a great shift in goal. Annie got the breakthrough goal for Hawks after 10 minutes, well positioned on the post to convert a textbook penalty corner move from Row. Another short five minutes later saw Lexi unleashing a goal-bound shot that Gabs shepherded into goal from zero range, giving Hawks a 2-0 advantage at the turn.
An inspired half-time talk from Sue and Sam saw the U18s retake the field with renewed purpose, scoring two goals in rapid succession from open play. From that point, the dominance of Hawks became more pronounced as Oxford tired. Although the Hawks defence was kept busy, Row, Emily C and Jess had it covered at the back and strong out-letting swiftly converted overturned ball into attack. Chloe, Kirsty and Gemma linked well in mid-field and Maddie, Georgia and Jen ran tirelessly to create opportunities up front. A hat-trick from Gabs was one of the highlights of the day, with Rachel, ET and Annie scoring a brace each.
This result takes Hawks up the league table and tying for third place in the Home Counties Prem, having already played the top three teams - a great way to start 2018!