The M1's hosted Canterbury on Saturday evening under the floodlights at BRN in their last home league game of the season. And it proved to be some spectacle for the supporters as Hawks eventually ran out 5-2 winners from a game in which both sides played their part in the entertainment. Canterbury started by far the stronger, moving the ball at pace and pinning Hawks into their own half. They were well worth their opening goal in the seventeenth minute, even if the goal came courtesy of a sloppy misplaced pass out of defence which found the open stick of Canterbury’s influential Aussie Craig Boyne. In three swift passes the ball had been moved to Callum Lea Browne at the top of Hawks circle and he finished calmly off his reverse stick into the bottom corner. Hawks had already played themselves into the game but the goal seemed to galvanise the home team and within four minutes they had equalised courtesy of Andy Watts, who also finished smartly off his reverse stick from the top of the circle after latching onto a long ball from Ed Ellis. The game had a quick flow to it, both teams moving the ball well and pressing hard. But it was the visitors that regained the lead seven minutes before the half time break when Hawks sloppily gave the ball away on the half way line. Canterbury countered through the inside right channel and a mistrap in the Hawks defence allowed Louis Ridge to slip the ball past Chris Price’s outstretched left foot. In keeping with the way both sides were playing, Hawks levelled again within two minutes following a swift move down the left flank where the ball eventually reached Tom Miotto. His inch perfect cross was met by the diving Ed Tristem at the near post and his first time deflection gave the visiting keeper no chance. 2-2 at half time and all still to play for.
Hawks were certainly up for the challenge and started the second half with the best goal of the game. Within two minutes of the restart, Hawks won possession in their own half and transferred the ball to Miotto in the inside right position. His incisive ball carry led him all the way into the Canterbury circle where he fed Watts on the dead ball line. Watts swift return pass allowed Miotto to square the ball to Ted Bennett who applied the finishing touch from five yards. The game continued to ebb and flow, with Hawks gradually gaining the ascendency. But a one goal lead is always slim and Canterbury continued to threaten themselves. Miotto missed a gilt-edged chance to give the home side some breathing space when he missed his shot from a well worked penalty corner routine with the goal at his mercy and as the game entered its final phase both sides were still pushing hard to take all three points. Relief for Hawks finally came with four minutes left on the clock when another free flowing move saw the home side move the ball out of defence and find Watts in space to attack at inside right. His slipped pass to skipper Olie Lobo was squared across the circle to present Tristem with his second goal of the game. Hawks made sure of all three points in the final minute of the game when a pass from Ted Bennett to Matt Wood in the Canterbury circle saw the visiting keeper make a rash challenge and fell Wood, leaving Jack Biggs to convert the resultant penalty stroke against a ‘kicking back’ - the keeper having been shown a yellow card.
So Hawks extended their fine form through the second half of the season which has seen them pick up 14 points from 7 games, losing only once, and rise to mid-table respectability ahead of their final game of the season next weekend away at Oxted – who have already won the division.
Many thanks to Evelyn Hargraves for the photos.