After a few weeks without a league game over Christmas and the New Year a large crowd gathered in eager anticipation of a cracking start to the match...and they weren't disappointed, with the fastest goal scored this season, inside the first 10 seconds of the start!
Right from the push-back the ball was passed straight through to the centre forward who cracked an “unstoppable” shot past the helpless (and frankly hapless) keeper who wasnt covering his near post!! Brilliant - except one major problem, the goal was scored by Witney, not Hawks! 0-1 to Witney. Questions also need to be asked about the whereabouts of Mark Stoker, George Chambers Roger Dunn and Russell Warner the back 4 where were they for those 10 seconds??
This setback proved just the motivation Hawks needed and a within a couple of minutes Matt Dodd dribbled into the D and shot past the keeper to score, 1-1. A few minutes later, following good approach play by the midfield, he scored again, 2-1 to to Hawks, and shortly afterwards completed his hat trick to make it 3-1 to Hawks. Much credit goes to Jonny Florey and Dan Bailey for this turn around. Fed by a now visible Roger Dunn from right half Florey and Bailey had grabbed the initiative for Hawks.
There followed a period of sustained pressure by Hawks, but two excellent saves by the Witney keeper kept Hawks at bay. However, they could not hold out indefinitely and Matt scored again to make it 4-1. Then came the turning point of the match when Gary Mahon suffered a clash of heads with a Witney player and had to leave the pitch. Enter the teams' talismanic (sic) captain Nick Rogers who strode onto the pitch like a stag reclaiming his hunting ground from a young pretender. Such was his aura of invincibility that Witney didn't even muster a single attack. So Nick, having savoured the scent of battle, promptly subbed himself off again after 5 minutes without having touched the ball!! But its first impressions that count.
Matt promptly scored once more and Mahon affected by the bang to the head had two major impacts on the remainder of the second half – one positive a goal, one less so other than to the smallest player of the pitches right knee. 6-1 at half-time.
The second half started just like the first with Witney scoring their second goal of the game within 10 seconds of the re-start! But Matt scored his sixth of the game shortly afterwards to make it 7-2 to Hawks. However sensing blood (probably their own) Witney took advantage of the remainder of Hawks Xmas largesse and scored a third which probably should count as an own goal based on the palpable effort of a 16 yard clearance from a certain England trialist who frankly should know better. 7-3 Hawks
With Hawks under sustained pressure there was only one answer- the return of the braying stag Nick Rogers to the fray doing what he does best, robbing the opponent's centre forward just outside the D and clearing Hawk's lines with 70 yard aerials.
This encouraged Hawks to up the tempo with Dodd getting his seventh and Johnny Flory ( on his return to his spiritual home of the 6s).
Special mention goes to Richard Venables who worked tirelessly, Toby MacLachlan who took the 6s mantra “easy early” to heart and might have scored but for a couple fo great saves by the Witney keeper and two new able debutants Peter Wyld and Ben Knowlden. The former solid in the back 4 and the latter slotting nicely into the youthful forward line.
In fairness Witney were not without ability and certainly enjoy their hockey which made for a great afternoon of entertainment for the assembled masses of spectators. News is out about the great hockey played by the Hawks 6s (76 goals in 11 games) and so it is likely to be ticket only at Banbury Road North next week when Hawks entertain Leighton Buzzard on the next stage of the EASY EARLY TOUR.
On another day Dan Bailey would have been a deserved MOM for his superb work on the right wing but with seven goals its difficult to ignore Matt Dodd who possibly achieves the highest ever fantasy league total for one match.