Fresh from a tight crowd pleasing victory against Hawks 4s last week, a buoyant 5s squad were determined not to let the weather dampen spirits as they entertained Oxford 3s on a wild and windy afternoon. After captain Will had helpfully gone through the team sheet yet again, Oxford belied their early indifference to actually start the game by setting off at breakneck speed once proceedings were finally underway. With the ball zipping around on the damp pitch and energetic running from the away team, Hawks were under the cosh in the early exchanges and despite the best efforts of the defence (and some superb goal-line scrambling from Charlie Ponder) the visitors eventually converted their pressure, bundling the ball into the net for the opening goal. As Hawks began to find their feet and settle into the pace of play, the contest began to even out and the half time whistle saw the score still at 0-1.
After the break, Hawks came out with a clear purpose to step up positively from the back and this change of tactics had almost immediate effect: first a short corner strike crisply taken by Jeremy Nugent into the bottom corner drew the scores level and then shortly afterwards a well worked attack saw Matt Nielson sweep the ball confidently past a diving keeper to see Hawks take the lead. The frenetic pace of the game never let up, especially as Oxford chased the game with their constant threat of counter-attack. Perhaps the key moment of the half came after an uncharacteristic defensive error led to an Oxford forward finding himself clean through on goal, then being fouled on his way to goal, with a penalty stroke awarded. Up stepped Man of the Match Jack Sobey to provide the most spectacular of a string saves made over the course of the game. With time running down, Hawks did their best to hang on to the slender lead, but alas with only a couple of minutes on the clock Oxford finally managed to convert one of their counter-attacks with, in truth, a superbly well taken goal. 2-2 the final score which, after the inevitable disappointment of coming so close to another win dissipated, felt like a fair reflection of a game where both teams had prolonged periods of pressure and considering Hawks had been fortunate to only concede a single goal during the first half.
Thanks to Evelyn Hargraves for the excellent photos.