West Hampstead away is always an intriguing fixture. Tackling the cruel mistress that is the North Circular is a tough task, let alone leaving West Hampstead with three points. This season, however, the travelling party found their way with minimal fuss, arriving with plenty of time to enjoy the splendorous backdrop that is Brent Cross shopping centre. Could this be a sign of things to come?
Hawks travelled to Whitefield School with twelve players- including the returning James Holder from a broken finger sustained at the beginning of the season. The rather depleted squad, who did not go through the gears in their warm-up on this frosty early-afternoon encounter, could be forgiven for not holding too much hope as the umpire blew his whistle to signal the start of the match.
Out of the blocks came Hawks. Chris Maidlow busily shut down the opposition defence and, when in possession, Barny Barber sought to distribute the ball from the middle of the pitch with poise and purpose. Hawks were looking like a potent threat. Their patient build-up play was rewarded. Some fine passing around West Hampstead’s D paid off as Maidlow found Luke Piper, who rattled the ball home to make it 1-0 to Hawks. A superb opening to this game.
Piper had the bit between his teeth. Minutes later, he picked the ball up 30-40 yards out. He drove at West Hampstead’s defence, veering past the opposition with the ball on the end of his stick. Into the D he went and with the wave of his stick, the backboard sounded again. But for intervention from the umpires, who deemed Piper’s shot to have been from outside of the D, Hawks would have been 2-0 ahead.
In a cruel twist of fate, West Hampstead were level five minutes later after dispatching a short corner. A tetchy exchange of possession between both teams for the remainder of the half saw the score line remain 1-1 at the interval.
Hawks were not deterred. Barny Barber maintained his composure in midfield, aided by the consistent Danny Johnson and the skilful Arthur Baldock. Hawks drove at West Hampstead, knocking on the door for their second. In the form that he is in, you cannot stop Luke Piper. Once again, he manufactured a chance out of nothing in West Hampstead’s D and finished high into the middle of the goal to put Hawks back in front; nothing more than they deserved.
West Hampstead chased for an equaliser from hereon. In the process, space opened for Hawks and, with it, chances to put the game to bed. Arthur Baldock slalomed into West Hampstead’s D, putting his opposing player on the floor in the process. A short corner was given to Hawks. Barny Barber’s persistence in this game was rewarded as he flicked the ball into the net to open Hawks’ lead.
Hawks remained in the driving seat for the remainder of the game. A brick wall made up of George Dawson, Tom Harris, Matt Oakes and James Holder prevented West Hampstead from putting away any sniff of a chance.
The final whistle blew, making it 3-1 to Hawks. A 100% record this season in the unfamiliar white. Difficult to navigate, yes, but Hawks will gladly travel back to West Hampstead if they can guarantee performances like this for the remainder of the season.
MOM: Luke Piper