Hawks men’s 4s succumbed to a 4-3 defeat at the hands of West Hampstead 3s. It was a cruel blow for the 4s, who were leading for large periods of the game, only to go behind in the final minute.
Nonetheless, how great it was to return to BRN. Huge credit must go to West Hampstead- the opposition travelled to Oxford via train, overcoming the travel restrictions recently imposed by the UK government.
Both teams would be forgiven for thinking this game would lack quality after four weeks without picking up a stick. However, both teams played at a high intensity and chances were plentiful. The 4s would go ahead in this fixture, thanks to a belter of a finish from Barnaby Barber from a Hawks short corner. Hawks were in control for much of the first half, and their persistence was rewarded with a second goal. A thumping Luke Piper attempt somehow found its way to George Guillain, who merely needed to nudge the ball over the line to double Hawks’ lead. However, West Hampstead did pull a goal back in the closing stages of the first half to make 2-1 at the interval.
Once again, Hawks were in a position they have found themselves in throughout the season. They were ahead and simply needed to mirror their first half performance to see the game out. However, a lack of concentration, and perhaps fitness, proved to be their downfall.
West Hampstead drew level five minutes into the second half after a fairly scrappy opening five minutes, but the 4s did manage to regain their lead through Luke Piper. After slaloming his way past a couple of West Hampstead defenders, Piper negotiated the ball on to the reverse side of his stick and confidently slammed it past the West Hampstead goalkeeper and into the middle of the goal to make it 3-2.
The final 10 minutes were disappointing. After knocking on Hawks’ door for much of the second half, West Hampstead bagged themselves an equaliser from close-range. But the opposition struck a hammer blow that no one saw coming- a fourth goal in the dying stages of the game sealed all three points for West Hampstead, who will have thoroughly enjoyed their train journey home. It was counter-attacking hockey at it’s finest from West Hampstead, and the 4s will feel the result was slightly unjust, but in a game of fine margins they lost their focus at a pivotal time.
Attention quickly turns to an important fixture versus Wycombe next week, where Hawks will hope to climb the table after what has been an incredibly inconsistent start to the season.
Thanks to Evelyn Hargraves for the excellent photos.