The ladies 3s met up at Sonning (NOT Reading Hockey Club, which confused a few of us), ready to face the team who were currently lying 3rd in the table. We were 2nd and Buckingham were one point ahead of us.
This was always going to be a nail-biter; historically this fixture always is.
We had a fabulous team; a real mix of youth and experience including Vicky Martin, a former National League player, and Charlotte Crampton-Smith, fresh from Uni but clearly with experience of a higher standard of play. Not to mention a few “Golden Eagles” and a number of talented Under 18s.
We started well, scoring within the first few minutes of the game thanks to some incredible skill and pace from Charlotte and an excellent finish by Rebecca Black.
The second goal followed shortly afterwards and resulted from one of the four short corners that Captain Kim had requested! This time Charlotte got the final touch.
Sonning were awarded a short corner, one of many questionable decisions, which un-nerved Hawks and a well-struck ball slipped past Caroline and Evelyn just inside the right post.
Hawks needed to re-group and play the simple hockey that is necessary in times of PANIC! Sonning continued to put pressure on the Hawks defence but our third goal came straight from a clearance in our ‘D’. Vicky calmly dribbled the ball away from the Hawks goal and towards the side line. A pinpoint-accurate pass to Charlotte on the defending 23 saw her dribble past several Sonning players and confidently slot the ball past the keeper. 3-1 to Hawks.
Half time arrived with the need to take stock of the situation. More eagle-eyed members of the team spotted the rather impressive tactics board by our opposition’s dugout….We knew they were going to come out strong in the second half, and they did.
Sonning had played two high forwards throughout the first half but seemed to now understand how to make the most of this formation. It called for some tight marking from Lottie Powell and Katie Cannon who responded well to the squeals from the goal keeper.
There were several occasions when Sonning overloaded our defence, despite some great ‘tracking-back’ by the halves. Sonning’s second goal came from a strong attack down their left. The ball was passed to an in-coming player on the right post having temporarily broken away from her defender (who was in hot pursuit!)
Our fourth goal was clearly planned in the Cannon household prior to the match. Katie, on a now familiar attacking move out of defence, passed the ball to sister Becca, who ran to the baseline and crossed the ball finding Emily Black in a perfect position on the far post. PHEW! 4-2 to Hawks.
A perfect strike into the backboard from Rebecca Black was controversially disallowed which would have sealed the deal.
The remaining few minutes seemed to last an eternity and Sonning refused to give up the fight. Buoyed by an enthusiastic bunch of supporters on the side line, they continued to apply the pressure. A seemingly innocuous ball into the D was mis-judged by Evelyn and the ball cruelly ricocheted off her own pads into the goal. 4-3.
There was no doubt that none of us felt we’d played well but at least it was a win and we’d take the three points. The body language spoke volumes though; we would have to play A LOT better in future. Our spirits were lifted later in the day when other results came through. The league leaders Buckingham had drawn their match against Oxford which meant the Mighty Hawks were now TOP!