The Hawks players took a very positive approach to this fixture, determined to make the most of some slick pitch conditions. They started very strongly, moving the ball efficiently around the back through Kieren Roche and young guns Finn Rumby & Anton Eisner. The pace was impressive, largely due to some purposeful leading from Martin Pickup, Bradley Fogden, Chris Pittaway and Arthur Baldock in midfield. After working their way up the pitch, Hawks secured two penalty corners in quick succession. However, Staines defence were up to the challenge and snuffed out attempts from Luke Piper and then Ian Roberts. The first half finished 0-0 but it was clear that there were goals to be had in this finely-balanced affair.
The second half started at a similar pace to the first, with both teams trying to exploit weaknesses in the others' strategy. Inevitably, as players grew tired some tackles became less controlled and discipline slipped occasionally, resulting in cards for both teams. Consequently, the game became more open and chances were available. The first goal came from a converted Staines penalty corner, which gave Hawks GK Will Barlow no chance. This seemed to provide a bit of motivation for Hawks and Ian Roberts went on a determined run before off-loading to an eager Martin Pickup. He scored what is already being described as a 'goal of the season' effort, a sharp reverse hit into the far corner, to make it 1-1. Staines did not relax and notched another goal soon afterwards. Hawks duo, Robbie Scragg and Matt Northfield, continued to provide outlets through their sensible leads and at the back, Jonny Flory and Brett Morrison kept cool heads, preventing Staines from penetrating the D on a number of occasions.
In a final flurry, Hawks keeper Will Barlow stretched down to his right to perform an outstanding save from a dangerous Staines shot, before the Umpire awarded Hawks a penalty stroke for a much-contested foot on the line from a Staines defender. Ian Roberts converted with precision and power, levelling the match as it neared its conclusion. Just as it seemed the points would be shared in this evenly-matched game, Staines managed to bundle their way through and score the winner with two minutes remaining. Hawks did not have time to reply again, and the away team finished on top: 2-3.
There was some excellent hockey from both teams and although they didn't take the points this week, Hawks 3s look to have a very good chance of success this season if they continue to build upon the high standard exhibited today.
Thanks to Evelyn Hargraves for the excellent photos.