An impassioned, Kevin Keegan once said ‘I will love it if we beat them- love it’. It was an unsociable 09.30am meet at Cheney Lane. Paid parking. No goals on arrival, but the opposition suggested we ‘choose a side and wheel your own goal on to the pitch’. Oxford Hawks men’s 4’s would love it if they beat Oxford- love it.
After a rather rushed warm-up, the 4’s looked shaky in the opening ten minutes. As local derbies go, this one was crucial- before pushback, Hawks were two points above Oxford men’s 3’s, who were hovering anxiously above a possible third relegation place in MBBO division two. Oxford distributed the ball nicely from right to left, finding plenty of space, and chances, as Hawks settled into the game.
Oxford were knocking on the door. But for a fantastic clearance off the line midway through the first half by stalwart David Cooke, they would have been in front. However, Hawks began to find their own rhythm and created chances of their own. Up against his former counterparts, Matt Oakes took the game by the scruff of the neck. Demonstrating close possession of the ball and precise through balls, chances fell to the industrious Arthur Baldock and Paul Scragg, but Hawks could not convert. An honourable mention must go to Oxford’s young goalkeeper for an exceptional performance. More to come from Hawks’ very own outstanding shot stopper in due course.
The first half ended 0-0. The score-line did not do this game any justice- the travelling maroon gang were rewarded for their support with an entertaining game of hockey. Although, a lapse in concentration would be costly for either team- this was a one-goal game.
The second half proved to be as tightly contested as the first. Chris Maidlow and Rich Tyser were prying on the opposition defence for a mistake, James Holder and Tom Harris stood resolute at the back, whilst Nick Lamb continued to persevere and give Hawks some much needed territory- a formidable presence for the mighty 4’s since returning to the fold- thank you Zoe.
Both sides were beginning to tire, but it was Oxford who proved to struggle more with the demands of this clash as the game reached a crucial turning point. After at least three chops at the aforementioned Nick Lamb, he slalomed his way into Oxford’s D and was awarded a short corner for his endeavours. A glorious chance for Hawks; one which the in-form Barnaby Barber took with both hands. Barber did as Barber does- a drag flicked finish into the bottom right corner of Oxford’s goal sparked jubilant celebrations. In a game of fine margins, this goal would surely be pivotal.
Not as pivotal, however, as a save of the season contender from Ben Pearce in goal. In a man of the match and season defining performance from the young goalkeeper, Pearce shot off his line to prevent an almost certain goal from Oxford to keep Hawks ahead- a truly fine save. Moments later, the flying 4’s were in Oxford’s half of the pitch. In yet another unselfish game from Hawks’ forward line, Paul Scragg was found with time and space to fire the ball into Oxford’s goal to make it 2-0 to Hawks and seal victory.
Another fine performance from the men in maroon. That is now ten goals in their past two games and, crucially, two clean sheets in a row. And yes… Hawks loved it- absolutely loved it.