In what can only be described as the most important weekend of the year for Oxford Hawks Men’s Section, the 1st XI found themselves struggling for players. With both the 2nd and 3rd XI’s playing for promotion and an injury ridden squad, as has been the theme for the season, they found themselves facing the weekend with only 7 of their regular players. Calling on some of the younger members of the club to step up to the plate, they took to the pitch with half of the clubs U18 squad and their coach.
It was clear from the first whistle that West Hampstead were keen to avenge the 12-1 drumming Hawks dealt them away from home early in the season, and for the first 15 minutes the home team looked shaky as they tried to gel together and soak up the relentless pressure they were being put under. It was, however, to no avail as 15 minutes into the first half poor Hawks marking left a West Hampstead striker free in the middle of the D to calmly slot the ball in the bottom corner. Hawks continued to battle, and with the juniors beginning to find some confidence begun to put some promising moves together. Hampstead were not giving in though, and found themselves winning a short corner as the result of a foot in the home teams D. They clinically despatched this into the side netting of the Hawks goal. As it looked like heads might begin to drop Hawks picked themselves up and started to take the game to the opposition. As they started moving the ball forward it became apparent that the aging West Hampstead side would struggle with the tenacity of the clubs juniors. After a serious of passes from the back Hawks got the ball forward quickly and found 15 year old Dom Maclachlan in the D, who touched it past the keeper for his first goal for the clubs 1st XI. This fired up the spirit in the juniors and ten minutes later they once again found one of their younger players Tom Best sticking the ball in the back of the net to bring the game all square at half time.
The start of the second half was once again torrid for Hawks, however some fantastic defensive play from Sean Maclachlan just about kept West Hampstead out. Ten minutes in, Hawks turned over possession in their 25 and West Hampstead capitalised moving the ball quickly round a confused defence and into the back of the goal. As the game went on the away team were evidently becoming increasingly frustrated and managed to find themselves down to nine men. Playing the next ten against a half court press Hawks were unable to break through and create anything until the ball fell to captain Tom Godding. Beating two players, he moved the ball to Andy Seiman who calmly fed it back to Godding for a first time strike that damaged the backboard. The final play of the game saw Hawks at 3-3 with a short corner, desperately hoping to grab three points, but it wasn’t to be as their shot went wide and the game ended level.
A thanks should be given to all the junior players for stepping up and without exception, playing brilliantly for the club.
Thanks to Sian for the photos.
Squad: Phil Hargraves, Ethan Chapman, Dan Money, Dom Roche, Tom Godding, Nick Lamb, Andy Sio,
Dom Maclachlan, Seam Maclachlan, Toby Blong, Ben Mitchell, Tom Best, Hugh Gordon, Bas Marshall.