Southampton made the long trip to Oxford Hawks who welcomed back Russ Warner from his ongoing birthday celebrations, this time from a golf trip to Marakesh on a not so sunny and wet Saturday afternoon.
Without Phil Dunnill for family reasons (best wishes mate), Nige Doggett moved to centre forward and his energy, supported by the White duo of Mark and David, the Falcons chased down the Southampton midfield and defence from the get-go. With Colin ‘Buzz’ Burrell supporting them and with fellow midfielders Russ and Club Captain Hutts securing the middle of the pitch it took only 6 minutes for David White to latch onto a Buzz pass into the circle and finish well to settle nerves and set the tone for the game.
Less than 5 minutes later Warner was found by Mark White and a first time pass to Buzz moving toward the circle allowed him to set himself and as the ball crossed the line smash the ball inside the near post for 2-0. Falcons didn’t let up and soon after when Chris Billington found Buzz in the left channel he went past his marker into the circle and with a disguised square pass took out the rest of the defence and goalie allowing Mark White to finish comfortably for a 3-0 lead inside 15 minutes. A Southampton midfielder at this point was overheard to say, OK you’ve won the game already, you can calm down now and that’s what happened for the next 15 minutes, as Falcons fell into the trap of trying to route-1 everything instead of avoiding contact and switching play, moves which had led to the initial success. But things were righted ahead of half-time when a good move led to Steve Griffiths being found in a high position and he was able to slip the ball past the goalie for a 4-0 half-time lead.
Half-time was surprisingly vocal with lots of criticism of each other, mostly in good spirit but it was clear Falcons were in no mood to let up and they clearly wanted to embed and maximise the better components of their play. Wilsdon in goal was being ably supported by Jonesy, Blommers and Dutch Heinrich who were dealing comfortably with occasional Southampton attacks but there was an early wobble to nudge the Falcons back into top gear when a poor clearance led to Southampton having the first chance of the second half. That was it, Falcons upped the accuracy and speed of play with Doggett and David White pushing forward at pace, a short corner was won and Russ Warner was able to despatch for a 5-0 lead. Another short corner then led to a superb switch move (no it really wasn’t a mishit!) that Buzz despatched with aplomb for his second of the game! Not to be outdone as top scorer of the day, David White took advantage of great build-up play from Blommers, Hutts and Doggett and before the end added his second and Falcons seventh of the day.
Both teams dried off, enjoyed Hawks hospitality and renewed old friendships, its these relationships that stands the vets teams apart as many players have competed or even played together for 30 years or more. Southampton were bade farewell as was Warner as he takes yet another trip ahead of his 60th Birthday!
Hawks now look forward to a visit in the opposite direction to face Southamptons local rivals Trojans next Saturday in an early evening start ahead of the second round in the HA Cup next Sunday at Teddies against Stratford.