Later that day, Hawks’ second and final match kicked off against Leamington. The conditions were now of sheeting rain, but this was no distraction from the job at hand for Jemma at centre back, whose wide-reaching distribution and defensive solidity was much appreciated by the whole team. The core of defence was bolstered further by the dominant presence of Bex at the back, who undertook heroics in many sticky situations, intercepting and tackling to save the day. These efforts of the impressive back line were mirrored by the forwards as the game went on. Resulting from Smithers’ silkily smooth skills and Tiny’s tearing around up front, causing chaos, Hawks were able to win short corner after short corner, yet none were converted, and the match was goalless going into halftime.
The second half began with the home side on the front foot, thanks to the tireless endeavours of the inside forwards. Hie’s dancing around defenders with sublime Indian dribbling, and the sound of several metallic clangs from powerful hits of Sam onto the post, piled the pressure on the Leamington defence. This was aided by Hibby, as she meandered assuredly around dazed defenders throughout the match, the ball glued to her stick. Andy’s tactical and inspirational advice from the sideline drew comparisons with Nuno Espírito Santo, spurring on the team as they threatened the Leamington goal with increasing intensity. Finally, Hawks were able to penetrate the admirable opposing defence, as Caro scored another goal in the day from a short corner, bringing the score up to 1-0. However, it wasn’t long before the visiting team levelled proceedings, and it remained 1-1 for a tense while. Just when it looked like a draw would be the final scoreline, Lexi smashed the ball into the back of the goal from a bouncing cross, reminiscent of Ben Stokes’ winning shot in the Ashes only a week earlier. The ecstatic celebrations and roar of the crowd were of a similar magnitude too, and when the final whistle blew a mere couple of minutes later, the Hawks team were applauded like heroes off the field of play.
That drew to a close a perfect start to pre-season for the Hawks team, with wins they will hope to replicate in the coming weeks.
Match report by Gemma Taylor.