A streamlined ladies 4s team began their post-lockdown season in a friendly against league rivals Thame 1s. Thame arrived with their new coach, a squad of 16 (including two goalkeepers) and a serious-looking pre-match briefing, while Hawks favoured a breezier start to the season with a core 11 players plus a few welcome others who had to leave early/arrive late/come from another game. Thanks so much to Chloe, Lara, and Ava, all of whom squeezed in our match around other commitments.
Despite Thames’s superior pre-game organization, Hawks began the match with energy and verve. We looked solid through the midfield and defence, with Catherine and Claire doing a wonderful job of holding the middle against Thames’s centre-heavy formation. Hawks dominated the first few minutes, with great runs from Karen and Annie resulting in promising attacks on goal. Thame rallied quickly and built some excellent play, stringing together lots of quality passes.
Hawks’s early commitment resulted in a string of attacking penalty corners, all of which had promise but were ably saved by Thames’s GK. Eventual Chloe stepped up (fresh from her L3s fixture) to take a great deception shot at goal, taking Hawks to 1-0. This gave Hawks a great burst of energy and another strong run of play, resulting in a brilliant pass from the midfield which gave Karen the chance to tap in a one-touch strike, all while facing away from the goal and shooting blind behind her (an early contender for 4s goal of the season).
Thame shook off the 2-0 scoreline and built promising attacks on the Hawks goal, where young Trin pulled off a series of brilliant saves. Charlotte looked strong in full back and we were delighted to have Lara back on the pitch, looking like she’d never been away! Eventually the Thame attack put together a passing goal which went in off the left post, taking us to 2-1.
Half time came around with old-school oranges and the commitment to keeping the ball moving however much we might tire in the second half as we lost two more players. The L4s looked confident throughout, moving the ball nicely through the width and the Hawks defence happy to clean up whatever Thame brought their way. Abi looked strong on the left half and connected well with Catherine in midfield. Inners Annie and Becky worked tirelessly to create options for attack and won some nice short corners.
A spell of attacking gave Karen a shot on goal, which was saved by the Thame keeper on the ground. Kim got to the ball just before Thames’s defence did and slotted it away to put us 3-1 up. Thame managed to pull back another (3-2) before a spell of brilliant team play from Hawks put the ball out to Kim on the left wing, where she laid in a cross to Karen (who nimbly drew the defender away) allowing the ball to pop up for Rebecca to punch in a truly brilliant fourth goal for Hawks. At 4-2 up with ten minutes to go, Hawks held it together in the heat and were able to hold the scoreline with a respectable win over a solid Thame team.
Thanks much to Kara for organising the team and to Jacqui for umpiring!