You’ve heard of the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ and the ‘Thrilla in Manilla’. The ‘Battle of the Balds’ at RAF Halton, between Tring 1’s and Oxford Hawks 4’s, will go down as a sporting classic.
Travelling with a lighter squad, Hawks knew they would have their work cut out against a team one position higher than them in MBBO division two. In the opening stages of the first half, Hawks struggled to maintain possession. Missed traps and passes saw Hawks surrender territory to Tring. However, they were unable to convert any of their short-corners or clear-cut opportunities.
Tring were letting Hawks off lightly. Although few and far between, the men in maroon knew they would have to take at least one of their chances. The breakthrough finally came. From a short-corner, Barny Barber slipped the ball to the back post and, after a few chops, Paul Scragg managed to squeeze the ball home. Joyous celebrations from the away team. When ahead this season, Hawks have looked dangerous. For the remainder of the first-half, Hawks pressed high and forced Tring to pass the ball around the back. Tremendous worth ethic and endeavour from Arthur Baldock and Rich Tyser saw Tring penned into their own D. Hawks went in at half time 1-0 up.
The second half saw the battle of the balds continue. Tring No.6 and Guy Biggs were inseparable. This left the remaining 20 players on the pitch to go toe-to-toe. Hawks passed the ball around well and forced Tring to chase the game. After a spell of continued pressure, Tring found themselves back in it with a converted short corner. Their tails were up, temporarily.
Hawks took the game straight back to Tring. Following a superb dribble from Arthur Baldock, one of many during this game, Paul Scragg popped up to secure his second of the game. The ball fell to Scragg on the penalty spot and he duly scooped the ball into the left-hand side of the net. Once again, Hawks had the upper hand in this game. With this, they also regained their composure and some spectacular possession hockey saw Hawks frustrate the opposition. The aforementioned No.6 lost his head (not his hair) which saw Tring lose their structure.
Hawks were beginning to zip the ball around. Space was opening up and they were attacking Tring’s D with menace. After some patient build-up play, Chris Maidlow was found lurking at the back post to notch his third goal in two games. At 3-1, Hawks were now in the driving seat. If that wasn’t enough, a sublime solo run from Bradley Fogden saw him enter the D and dispatch a reverse stick shot into the goal to top off a fine performance.
At full-time, it was Tring 1-4 Oxford Hawks. Back-to-back wins for Hawks for the first time this season. No wonder the umpire observed a certain smiling cheshire cat as Hawks departed the playing surface.