Hawks Men’s 4s suffered their first defeat in five games at the hands of league leaders Abingdon 1s. Hawks' game plan frustrated the visitors, but it wasn’t enough to conjure an unexpected result.
Hawks kept their depth with a half-court press and invited Abingdon to attack - much to the dismay of the opposition player-coach. The disappointment was evident from the away side, as they often stood waiting for the Hawks forward line to put some pressure on the ball carrier and, therefore, create some space to form an attack. But the 4’s stuck firmly to their strategy, causing Abingdon to rethink how they could breach the home side’s defence - resorting to long aerials and crashing the ball through sticks.
Unfortunately, the opposition did manage to score their two goals within the first 20 minutes – both from deflected attempts. The first was actually a penalty flick, as the goal bound effort was stopped on the line by a Hawks body. However, their second goal was a chance deflection through the legs of Phil Hargreaves, but this was all Abingdon could manage.
For the remainder of the first half, and indeed the match, Hawks persevered with a half-court press and would only continue to disrupt Abingdon’s usual way of playing. Rather than search for another goal, Abingdon were happy for Hawks so sit inside their own half. Likewise, Hawks were happy for Abingdon to keep the ball in their own half – even though they were 2-0 down, there was always the chance that they could score on the counter-attack and cause the opposition to implode.
During the first half, Hawks lost a lot of possession by miss-trapping and forcing the ball, but there was a clear improvement in the second half. In fact, there was probably an even number of chances for both teams in this period. Half-chances from the likes of Bradley Fogden and George Guillain were not converted, whilst late attempts from Matt Oakes and a Luke Piper penalty corner could not achieve parity between the teams.
Even if it was a dull game for the watching spectators, there were many positives for the 4s to take away at the full-time whistle. For one, they had managed to keep the opposition at bay for much of the game when every other team in the division have been swept aside. Other pre-match tactical adaptations were also well received and executed by the squad.
The 4s will now hope for an unbeaten final leg of fixtures before the Christmas break.