After some highly positive but mixed results from pre-season friendlies, Oxford Hawks Ladies 4s were feeling ready and eager to take on Milton Keynes Ladies 2s in the first game of the 2020/21 season. Hawks knew it would be a challenging game, but were ready to take on that challenge and fight for those first 3 points.
After an intense warm up, the Ladies 4s were in the zone. From the first whistle, Hawks worked together well. They were making some excellent passes across the pitch and everyone really stepped up their game to keep the skilful opposition at bay. Even though Hawks enjoyed the majority of the possession, Milton Keynes did well to break down the attacks and frustrate the forwards in the first 10 minutes.
Nevertheless, Hawks continued to look strong on the attack and were a danger to the Milton Keynes defence. Caz, Lucy and Jossy were all looking especially dangerous in the middle, making some lovely passes to create space for the break. This determination and composure was finally rewarded when a superb ball in from Lucia found its way to Kim’s stick, who proceeded to neatly slot it past the keeper with ease. Making it 1-0 to Oxford Hawks.
After this great opening goal, Hawks were determined to keep the play in their attacking half and dictate the game. Annabel and Freya put in some critical tackles at the back and worked incredibly well at getting the ball down the line for a quick break from Abigail and Alice. From this, Hawks looked like they were going to score a second in quick succession after a calculated ball from Lucy found Emily, who drove it up the line and into the circle. Unfortunately, the baseline strike on goal was parried by the keeper and Rebecca was unable get the rebound, pushing it just inches wide.
After a motivational team talk from Becky at half time, the squad was feeling good going into the second half. Hawks knew that Milton Keynes were ready to fight until the final whistle, but so were they.
Milton Keynes had the push back and came out noticeably stronger in the second half, trying to throw Hawks off balance with a couple of early strikes. This was no problem for POM Iona, who put in some smart saves to protect her goal and deny the opposition an early return. It was this excellent defending that kept Hawks firmly in the lead.
Hawks were utilising the space well again, and working it around the opposition with skill. A quick break from Lucy and Mimi saw the defence outnumbered as they pinged it back and forth up the pitch. Rebecca positioned herself in front of the goal, ready to execute a classic set play. Lucy received the ball at the baseline and worked it around the keeper, pushing it to Rebecca on the penalty spot. A hard slap to the left corner brought to score up to 2-0. Hawks were ecstatic with this textbook team manoeuvre and tried to maintain this momentum.
However, despite their best efforts, Hawks were finally undone by a fast counter. Milton Keynes had managed to break through the defensive line to score a scrappy response. Bringing the scoreline up to 2-1 going into the dying minutes of the match.
Despite this, Hawks were giving it all they had in the final five minutes. Some excellent defending from Catherine (capt) and Vicky saw any other attacks from Milton Keynes swiftly rebuffed. The final whistle went, and Hawks secured the three points after some impressive team play leading to a deserving win.