After a week of intensive anger management therapy skipper Venables approached this weekend’s game with an air of positivity. Squad availability was good midweek and attendance at mid-week training also impressive. By Friday night we were having to give players to a beleaguered 5s but ended up with a squad of 15, although started with 13 as players struggled to arrive at the start time.
Abingdon looked an improved side from when we met earlier in the season given their recent form and their coach appeared with a white board full of team tactics. Hawks undertook their usual meandering warm up…
The game started brightly for Hawks and the first 5 mins of the game we played in Abingdon’s half and Hawks moved the ball well and attacked wide. After this early pressure though the game balanced out and it was clear Abingdon had a number of useful players. Hawks resorted to form at times and gave the ball away easily as we tried to advance out of our D. We started to give away a number of short corners but managed to repel all of these with some very assertive keeping from young Leo who also made a number of valuable clearances during open play attacks.
Hawks then took the first goal from a returning Darby who netted from the right hand side of the D after a nice passing move from Hawks down the right wing. The second came shortly after from Elliott after a short corner rebound. These early goals seemed to rattle Abingdon but it was only through Leo’s goal mouth action that we avoided a number of Abingdon attacks. Sri V also atoned for last weeks near own goal with an impressive reflex deflection defending a short corner.
At half time we reflected on this hard work. All had contributed. There was some nice one touch hockey and interchange between McGrigor and Graham on the right. Dolly was starting to control the midfield assisted by Sam V and Graham jnr. Geoff W and Karl H were solid in defence. Stoker, Sri and Image combining at half back.
Hawks went out hard from the start of the 2nd half and Elliott soon bagged his second to add to his increasing tally. Sam V then earnt himself a yellow card for stick tackling and Hawks retreated back into their own half to absorb the pressure. We (or rather Richard Webb) had a number (3) of opportunities (open goals) to increase the margin. The skippers blood pressure started to rise but any shouting from the side lines was pretty useless against the background noise of the A34.
Our 4th goal came from a carefully constructed short corner routine, which Sam V decided to ignore and slapped in to seal the match. Hawks then took advantage of a game that opened up as Abingdon tried to claw back a goal. A nice passing move down the right from Venables to Dolly then found Elliott in the D who rounded the keeper and scored with a reverse stick shot to round off the afternoon and collect his hattrick.
A great afternoon’s hockey and all agreed that Leo had a stormer of a game and had kept us in at the start. A really assured performance from a 15 year old who is growing in confidence with every game he plays. So MOM to Leo…but special mention to Steve Elliott who collected another hattrick and now goes into 2nd place in the Hawks goal scoring table. Always a great poacher and deflector…his 3rd goal was a very assured piece of work and his best goal of the season…so far….
Thanks to Abingdon for a good game and excellent hospitality afterwards.