The Falcons arrived at Southampton, a traditional tough team to get a result, with a plan to take the game to the opposition from the start. With resources to implement and a desire to maintain the new year momentum all looked good on paper.
Falcons then immediately swooped and with an excellent opening the ball moved around the pitch and found Roper, Doggett and Dunnill combining down the right channel with Southampton chasing shadows.
Roper drove to the bye-line and his pull back sat up perfectly and from close range Dunnill smashed the ball into the roof of the net. For 20 minutes the pattern and passing of the Falcons left Southampton on the back foot, and they were now content to park the bus to stem the tide.
inevitably the solid defence and determination to disrupt the Hawks play paid dividends and with a level of frustration impacting on the fluency of play the passing became more tentative and allowed Southampton into the game.
With rotation and fresh legs Atkins, Bowden and Billington were able to work the wide spaces and free up the midfield where Kaluza, Warner and Dunnill had space but faced a crowded and compacted last quarter of the pitch.
Southampton were hitting Hawks on the break whilst securing a solid centre with John their centre back marshalling his troops well and picking off the constant attacks through the centre.
There was a need to get behind the defence to secure the 2nd goal as the result remained in the balance and finally in the last 10 minutes the width enabled space and good chances fell to Roper, Doggett and Griffiths but the Southampton keeper held firm.
The game was then put to bed as a good interchange with Billington, Kaluza and Griffiths found space in the left channel. Griffiths held the ball and as he was closed down he slipped the ball to Warner as a huge channel appeared down the right. Warner's sublime pass into space, and ahead of Dunnill, allowed him to drive into the D where a crisp finish gave Dunnill a brace, closed the game, pick up the M of M award and jug avoidance. The latter secured for accepting his substitution with relief!
Jones at the back, now able to free himself from the solid task of closing the quick running Billy for Southampton, and collecting a green card for his endeavours, was finally seen to smile and look forward to the France v Ireland rugby encounter. The best bits were fortunately at the end of this game so the day ended in reflection, frustration, satisfaction and libation.
Finally well done to Paul Brees in goal who was exemplary all game and maintained his clean sheet but appeared determined to leave half of his clothing at Southampton!