There is a well rehearsed saying in sport that you have to stay in a game to have any chance of winning it. The M1s' game on Sunday, when they hosted Havant at BRN, provided the perfect illustration of this as they rode out twelve penalty corners against them before countering with two goals in the second half to leave Havant wondering how on earth they had failed to score themselves.
The writing was on the wall as early as the fourth minute when Hawks conceded the first of what seemed like a wave of penalty corners. Like so many to follow, Hawks defended it defiantly, this one being run down by Drew Blackburn. A minute later Chris Price cleared the ball off the dead ball line which lead to a flurry of three successive PC's, all of which were repelled by the Hawks rearguard, the last one being expertly steered off the line by Ed Ellis. Then in the last minute before the quarter break Price made an outstanding reflex save off a deflected PC move, leaving Jack Biggs to complete the save with an overhead clearance more suited to a game of hurling. Interspersed with the penalty corner barrage, Hawks managed to produce an insipid display laced with poor decisions and unforced errors which provided Havant with opportunities to counter attack at will.
The second quarter was equally uninspiring from the home side with extended periods out of possession caused mainly by carrying the ball into trouble or dribbling the ball onto the flat stick of opposition players. Hawks could not even make pay a numerical advantage when the visitors had two players sitting out green cards. Ed Tristem also received a green card in the same scrappy period of play. Further penalty corners came and went for Havant, one coming back off a post and Ed Ellis being called on for a second time to make a spectacular goal line clearance. Although a marginal improvement was seen in Hawks performance in the second half, they remained guilty of making too many passes either through or too close to opposition players and the tally of cheap turnovers continued to rise. But as Havant's frustration started to surface at their inability to score themselves, so Hawks began to realise they were still vey much in the game at 0-0.
Hawks won their first and only penalty corner of the game early in the second half to provide some much needed momentum and although Havant won further penalty corners themselves, they continued to be denied by Price, including one excellent diving save. The deadlock was finally broken ten minutes into the third quarter when Owen Lloyd made a positive carry from midfield down the right flank before feeding Tristem. Tristem carried the ball into the circle and with a pull back found Freddie Foster who selflessly squared the ball to the waiting Ted Bennett who finished calmly from close range. A minute before three quarter time Hawks extended their advantage when Ted Bennett found space in the inside left channel before picking out Tristem on the edge of circle with the time to turn and shoot past the helpless Havant keeper.
The final quarter passed without excitement. Rob Dunnill was shown a yellow card and Havant continued to knock on the door. But the Hawks defence was resolute and despite too many players making little contribution, they saw out the game safely to take all three points. Much work to do in training this week before a trip to league leaders Reading next Sunday.
Many thanks to Clive Jones for the excellent photos.