With the Falcons players fresh from their winter break and joined by Dawson, Cooke, Venables and Kaye all looking fit and raring to go, it was with general optimism that the Hawks Supervets travelled to Hampton in Arden for the Last 16 Tier-2 Cup fixture on Sunday.
With everyone arriving on time and only light drizzle to contend with the players warmed up in plenty of time, contrasting with the locals who struggled to have a full compliment of players pitch-side for the allotted start time.
Starting 3 minutes late, Hawks immediately took the game to the hosts with some good build up play through the midfield of Mahon, Hutton and Burrell. Dawson up front had an early glimpse of goal but hit just wide and this was how the first quarter played out. Venables and Dunnill with Dawson up front were enjoying plenty of the ball but goals were at a premium. At the back the defence of Cooke, Heinrich, Kaye and Billington were moving the ball around well, tackling strongly and Atkins in goal wasn't being troubled.
Hawks pressure continued and the first of three short corners was squandered after Buzz's injection wasn't quite on the mark, however the second was spot on but defended excellently, but there was nothing the hosts could do when the third injection came straight to Dawson who this time picked a spot wide of the onrushing defender and found an inch gap inside the bottom left corner. Despite further possession and a couple more missed chances half-time came with the score 0-1.
The half-time chat from skipper Buzz was to keep doing what we had been doing, continue to dominate possession and create chances, to close down space and not drop concentration levels.
The team listened and the second half started in a similar vain and one of these attacks led to a move between Dawson, Burrell and Mark White on as substitute being illegally blocked and Boots despatched the resulting flick for a 0-2 lead.
Five minutes later another short corner was returned from Dawson to Buzz who had moved inside from injecting and was able to calmly flick the ball in for 0-3. Things were looking good.
Then a rush of blood and disregard for the half-time instructions ensued, the inevitable period of possession for Hampton led to some good attacking play and several short corners. A shot that Atkins appeared to have covered was unluckily deflected by Jones who had replaced Billington and left Atkins with no hope of recovering 1-3. Less than five minutes later a goal mouth melee resulted in a touch from the otherwise reliable Heinrich heading toward the far post where the Hampton centre-forward ran in to apply the deftest of touches 2-3.
Hawks were ruffled, but kept their shape with David Cooke playing outstandingly at right back, calm was restored and possession percentage improved significantly. Hawks began to play as they had at the start and managed to restore a two goal buffer when Dawson finally despatched one of several chances 2-4.
Hawks saw out the game from this position and move into the Quarter Finals on 8th March where they will face Isca at BRN - time to be confirmed but we will need lots of support!!
Captains Man of the Match: David Cooke with honourable mentions for Simon "Boots" Dawson and Phil Dunnill