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Battle of two unbeaten Hawks sides

10 April 2021, 09:30, Banbury Road North (Top)

Falcons 2 - 2 Oxford Hawks Men's 7s

It was with great disappointment that the MBBO Open League Division 8 West was bought to a premature end just as the 'Magnificent 7's' were topping the table in perhaps their finest season.  Likewise, the Falcons were cruising along nicely with an unbeaten run of 6 games in the Wessex Supervets Alliance. And so, with the end of Lockdown3.0 came the opportunity to settle a score and earn bragging rights between these two undefeated teams.  The Magnificent 7's are an assemblage of mixed ages and vintage and questionable talent.  The Falcons providing unquestionable vintage and an array of talents.

The gauntlet duly laid down by skippers Venables and Burrell and as with all good duels the time was set for an early meet.....0930 was no problem for these early risers keen to 'get on' and leave time for other pursuits.....gardening, dog walking, trips to the physio...

It was great to meet up again after a break of some 3 months or more.  It was clear that there was need for some urgent trips to the barbers....Shirley sporting a sweep back reminiscent of the late Peter Stringfellow...not a good look on so many levels.

The Magnificents produced a squad of 14 in various states of physical well being and duly went about a sort of warm up.  A bona fida team included a balance of ability. James Burroughs, Ollie Graham and Pete Hobbs providing some youth (non vaccinated) whilst the remainder of the squad fitted into solidly into the 'jabbed' category.  And talking of solidity we were delighted to have Phil Hargreaves as GK once again.  The Falcons were clearly meaning business and lined up with a team bristling with talent from yester year.

The Magnificent decided to shore up the back with Shirley, Image, Stoker, White and Hobbs guarding the D.  Burroughs, Graham Jnr and Snr, Webb and Venables patrolled the midfield and the strike force up front comprised Darby, McGriggor, Elliot and Breen....bristling more with whiskers than talent but full of enthusiasm...

As the game started the Magnificents, none the better for a rest of several months, gifted the ball back to the Falcons on several occasions.  The Falcons put on an impressive display of passing round the back and switching sides of attack which looked pretty but were generally kept at bay by the defense....not the back line 4 ....but Phil 'the Impenetrable' Hargreaves. It was like watching a game of pinball as the ball rebounded off his pads.  It was not all one way traffic though and the Magnificents showed promise with one of many breaks where our relatively younger legs gained the advantage only for our finishing to let us down.  The Falcons eventually managed a goal mouth scramble to take the lead but the 7's came back quickly and Darby slotted in characteristically from short range to equalize.  Further breaks resulted in Venables converting to take the lead. In the interim the Falcons had numerous short corners, all ricocheting of Phil's pads including one which caught  'Stringfellow' right on his digit from a Boots canon. General concern subsided pretty quickly and we went to half time generally pleased with a 2-1 lead.

Second half started to open up as legs tired and more short corners were conceded by the 7's but again all repelled by Phil using every bit of his, pads, stick and even heading one of his mask.  Despite this we leaked a soft-ish goal from open play whilst defense slept.  We had our chances though and with a bit more skill we could have scored...but then with a bit more skill we probably wouldn't be playing the the 7's....

So, the first leg of this 3 (or possibly 5) match test series finished an honorable 2-2 draw. All agreed it was a great game and brilliant to be back on the pitch.  Man of the Match clearly goes to Phil 'The Invincible'...with mentions in dispatches for Stringfellow for returning to play in the 2nd half despite his throbbing finger, Jack White for some elegant and assured play at the back, Ollie G for his running and Pete Hobbs for some solid tackling.  We're already looking forward to the next encounter.

Thanks also to Geoff P and Harry V for umpiring.


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