An away fixture in half term in London was always going to be an availability challenge. The match was flagged as low availability in the first three weeks of the season, and as the second half of the season has become more critical for points, the importance of the match became more and more significant.
As match day drew closer, it was clear that this prophecy was coming true. On the tuesday evening, the Hawks lineup was a bare 11, and the call was made for more players. Both the 5's and the 7's had 15 players, so more players would be easy...
However, as fast as players were offered as potentially available, another player would drop off the list, leaving a team of 9 available on Friday evening - things were not boding well!
Special mention has to go to Tom Gilman - saviour of the hour - who made the short hop back from the family holiday in Cornwall to bolster the side - leaving Padstow at a cool 05.40 to be there in time. Even with such commitment, Hawks were only available to make 10
Hawks started well, and made probing passes across the West Hampstead midfield. The play was fast, and the distribution from both sides was effective. Both Hawks and West Hampstead had their chances, with shots and short corners a plenty. From the forward line, Jeremy was effective as ever up front, strafing shots against the keeper, and building play across the midfield. The injury returning George Gullain was particularly effective in penetrating and supporting the forward line; whilst the >100 years of experience across the midfield duo of Gilman, Cairns, and central defence of Kaye provided an effective core.
However, as the lack of substitutes kicked in, Hawks began to drift off the pace, as West Hampstead were able to slowly turn the wick. A final score of 8-1 does not convey the effort of Hawks, who were able to continue to play against adversity, and does little to celebrate the skill of Theo in goal - without whom it could easily have been double. The teams performance was outstanding in the face of adversity.
The results see Hawks drop six points behind 9th, but with some space ahead of Sonning, and with squad numbers looking more consistent through to the end of the season.