For a youthful side, with a shiny new captain, and shuffling of players over the summer, the first league game of the season was always going to be a tough affair. This was further exacerbated as the 6's had a very sucessful 2018 season, promoted into MBBO division 5, and were playing against a side wh had opted to relegate themselves frmo a league above.This led to a very tough first league fixture, and ended with a net result of a 6-0 loss.
One week on, with a side very much resembling that of the previous week, the task was a difficult away fixture at Sonning. Sonning have always been a side with a solid defensive record, but have never scored highly. The nature of the Sonning Lane pitch is such that ball speed is low and work rate is high, and it is always a close fixture.
As the team set off, the thoughts of the previous week remained in the heads of many (and for some the ringing in the ears from a particular misplaced Dunners pass).
The priary focus for the week was to play simple hockey, and to attempt to build a structure for the side, whilst maintaining the enthusiasm within the side.
A key change to the side (aside from the replacement of Dunners in the back line) was the appearance of long term Hawks stalwart, Jim (the Cat) Felix - who maintained both the 6's cast of top drawer keepers out of the woodwork, and animal pseudonims; but also ensured that, for another season, Jim remains on the list of active club players (i believe it is now up to 35 years continuous service, but i will happily be corrected)
Once play began, it was clear that this was not going to be a similar game to the previous encounter. What a difference a week makes. The team had suddenly found an inspiration, and felt like a team. There was a clear work rate throughout the side, with a committed back line making early strides to cut out all attempts at penetrating the 25, a midfield duo of Ed and Gilman who maintained an intense engineroom in the middle, and enabled the more youthful players to gravitate around them and push the space out wide; and a potent forward lineup who took every opportunity, putting their body on the line (even headbutting the backboard for the second goal!)
Whilst it was Sonning that saw more of the short corner action, these were rarely a threat, and it was on the closing chimes of the first half that Ed Watson was able to capitalise on a period of dominance in the midifeld to open up the scoring.
Most of the second half was an even affair, with a slipped ball out of the attacking 25 was converted into an opportunistic breakaway, and left Hawks to realise the fragility of the goal advantage.
With both sides raising the tempo in the final quarter, and tiredness kicking in, the quality of play from both sides declined with 15 minutes to go. Tempers were rising and skill levels were declining. However, a well worked passage of play across the midfield saw Jeremy able to reach a deft pass, and was able to convert to go a goal ahead, despite the intervention of an opposition arm on the back, and attempting a Buzz Lightyear 'falling with style' - with a little less success, as he met the backboard square on.
Honourable mentions for Man of the Match go to Peter, Jonty, and Jeremy; but Man of the Match was voted as Archie this week for a sterling performance at the back.
With the quirks that having a university side as scheduled opponents the first week of the season bring, and the withdrawal of one side from the league, next weeks fixture takes place on Sunday, away in Reading, with the enormous unknown that comes with the A34 being closed around Oxford.