After struggling early in the season, the 5s had been in good form with 2 wins and a draw from the last three games. Last week’s draw was characterised by a number of unsuccessful shorts (approximately 10) and special attention was paid to this in the warm up. There were notable absences in captain Will (Ed deputising) and Rich T (injured– good luck with the recovery Rich) but with full 16 and Boots running the sideline, there was optimism before push back. A win against mid-table Oxford City would mean moving up to mid-table.
The first half saw the 5s dominating the game but failing to put together many sustained combinations: loose balls in the final third and aerials when better passes were probably available. Worse, another three(ish) short corners came and went without really troubling the City keeper. Then, having barely had a sniff, City were presented with a golden opportunity when an over-ambitious ball from Hugh at centre back was intercepted and a promising attack was turned into a three on two break. Fortunately Hawks new goalkeeper, Dennis – showed composure beyond his 14 years to pressure the attacker and then make a smart save with the inside of his leg.
Going in 0-0 at half time Boots’ chat was that if we could continue playing and improve our composure in the D we should come away with a win. Unfortunately the second half started poorly for Hawks when another ball out from the back, this time from Todd (who otherwise had another spotless game), found an attackers stick and another three on two ended with a City goal that the keeper had no chance of saving. Going down brought some renewed energy to Hawks. One promising attack saw Jamie Bush complete some tight stick work to get out from left back, followed by a couple of sharp passes bringing the ball into the D only for a miscontrol to end the opportunity. Further opportunities followed but a heavy touch hear and a poor pass there, together with some decent work from the City centre back who kept his stick low in the tackle, meant Hawks had nothing to show for their pressure.
With five minutes to go, things were becoming increasingly fraught and the positive chat that has been a credit to the 5s this season was beginning to sour. Finally, two minutes from time Hawks won yet another short corner. At this point Hawks had probably had about 20 corners without scoring in their last games three games. The ball came out accurately to Ed who controlled neatly and slid the ball across for Ali who had moved a few feet into the D on the left hand side. Ali swept the ball first time, made a sweet contact and the ball ran along the ground into the City goal. Phew.
Lucky to come away from the Eastcote game with a win three weeks ago, the 5s can consider themselves unlucky to have drawn two games in which they had much the better chances. Next week brings a trip to Slough (one place above), followed by a difficult game against Windsor (2nd top) before the winter break. No doubt there is enough quality for the (mostly old) men of the team to stay in the division, but with only four goals in four games a solution more work on shorts is probably in order. It’s shaping up to be an interesting second half of the season…
Man of the match
Thanks to Evelyn Hargraves for the excellent photos.