Squad selection hasn't quite settled yet and there were a few notable omissions from this weeks squad. It was Dolly's birthday and he chose to celebrate by NOT playing hockey...strange. Darby rested his limbs in advance of the Oxford Half whilst Venables and Shirley (Oxfordshire's un-fittest man) threw caution to the wind and decided to use the game as part of their tapering plan. Welcome return to Sam Raynor and a welcome to Nick Tonkin who has a considerable hockey pedigree (unfortunately ice hockey).
Hawks took a bit of time to settle into the game and adjust to a somewhat slow and sticky pitch and contrived to give the ball away and generally rush things. Witney were a development side with sprinkling of midfield talent who looked like they were prepared to run at us and feed the solitary front man. A fairly early foray saw GK Leo make two impressive saves in the same move. If Hawks had gone a goal down early our heads could well have dropped. But Hawks then decided to apply some pressure and move into the Witney half where we secured an early short corner. Deciding against 'route 1' we agreed to a right slip. The ball came to Sam V who decided otherwise and slam the board to the back board for an early lead against the general run of play.
Hawks started to settle and move the ball around with a bit more assurance. Karl and Image got the marking sorted. We concede a couple of shorts but the first was fluffed and Leo dealt well with the other.
Sam R was a useful addition to our line up and patrolled the right well and the usual solid defending coming from Stoker on the left.
At a Witney 16 hit Hawks pressed efficiently and Venables intercepted the hit out and drove to the D striking the ball to the keepers right.
Hawks rounded the half off with another goal coming from Elliott from a very tight angle from the right of the D.
3-0 seemed a generous half time lead and we agreed we needed to take more time, not rush passes and that Leo's saves had been very important in those early moves.
Second half saw Hawks generally forget the half time words but held Witney at bay. Leo again made some good saves and Sam V worked tirelessly in midfield. Maybe it was tired legs but we started to make some lazy tackles which the umpires picked up on and this then led to an Elliott stick tackle being adjudged as to hard resulting in a yellow card. Hawks were able to soak up the pressure and Nick Tonkin was employed as the sole front man who ran his legs off chasing balls. The last quarter became a bit scrappy but we held on and 3-0 felt like a great result on a lovely sunny afternoon.
MOM Leo Eleftheriadis