The M1's entertained the students from Bristol on Sunday in a game that Hawks needed to win to make sure they remained in the Conference’s leading group with just two more games to follow before the mid-season break. With injuries starting to deplete their squad, Hawks had to shuffle their pack for this game and it soon became clear that this was going to be a closely fought affair. Mistakes littered the play of both sides and Hawks unfortunately set the tone for their own game with far too many misplaced passes. Neither side really threatened until a bizarre passage of play produced four goals in eight minutes. First Hawks took the lead on twenty one minutes when Jack Biggs struck the post from a penalty corner leaving Ed Tristem to return the ball into the goalmouth for Andy Watts to deflect home. Two minutes later Bristol equalised from their own penalty corner when the flick deceived George Oyebode in the Hawks goal. After a further two minutes the visitors took the lead when a hopeful cross into the circle was expertly turned home but Hawks levelled the scores again two minutes later when Drew Blackburn managed to force a shot at goal when a penalty corner routine broke down allowing Freddie Foster to deflect high into the net from close range. Both sides drew breath in what was left of the first half and honours were even at the half time break. The quality of play did not improve in the second half and neither side was able to impose themselves on a game that was lacking in any real quality. Oyebode made one stunning save and clearance to keep Hawks in the game and Ed Ellis also stopped a certain goal with an eye-catching goal line clearance from a penalty corner. As the game seemed to be heading for an inevitable draw, coach Todd Williams made a handful of positional changes and with eight minutes left on the clock Hawks forced a penalty corner of their own. Despite a misdirected injection Jack Biggs and Andy Watts managed to exchange a couple of passes to allow Biggs to convert and give Hawks the lead. Hawks played out the remaining time without any frights and with Birmingham and Cardiff playing out a draw, Hawks find themselves within four points of the leaders without having hit top gear in recent games.
Thanks to Clive Jones for the excellent photos.