We always knew Stratford would pose credible opponents having only really put distance between scores in the last 15 minutes when we played them in the 2018/19 season tier-2 competition. With both teams progressing tier-1 this season it was likely both had strengthened and that was clear on a very cold day at Stratford High School.
The first half begun with Hawks edging possession and creating a lot of chances, unfortunately taking none! Stratford showed some good skill on the ball and even managed to put the ball into the net from a penalty corner, only for the initial strike to be head high and disallowed.
The very real threat of conceding seemed to stir the strikers from their slumber and when Adam Laird dribbled through but was taken out by the goalie, David Cooke stepped up to convert the resulting penalty stroke.
A 1-0 half time lead probably failed to reflect Hawks possession but did reflect Stratford's excellent keeper and Hawks profligacy in front of goal.
The second half begun at pace and Stratford seemed keen to get back on level terms, but a solid defence martialed by Paul Poulter and with Phil Hargraves between the posts repelled all borders! We then scored a couple of goals to take the wind out of the home teams sails Simon Dawson netting his first and Mark White scoring a tap in after good work by Laird and Dawson.
Hawks were now controlling the game and an unfortunate deflection of a Dawson effort gave the score a more reflective complexion of possession and chances with Hawks progressing into the last 16 with matches to be played on 12 Dec.
MoM: Paul Poulter