Men’s 1s in convincing win at Plymouth
Published on 25th Sep, 2023
The M1’s opened their 2023-2024 National League West Conference campaign with an away trip to Plymouth. Always good to get the long trips out of the way early in the season, especially when you come away with a comprehensive 4-1 win.
Hawks started brightly and quickly gained control of the game, working good circle entries, and generally dominating the ball and territory throughout the first quarter. Aerial passes frequently found a Hawks shirt, creating problems for the home defence and the Hawks press did a good job of keeping the pressure on Plymouth. The home keeper made a number of good stops, including one from a smart shot on the turn from the top of the circle by Luke Hooper. Hawks’ good work was faltering on a lack of precision in the crucial areas in and around the opposition circle. That finally changed in the 25th minute when a firm long pass from Ed Ellis found Jack Hobbs with space to work in on the opposition 25-yard line. Hobbs made an excellent trap, turning the GK as he entered the circle and lifted the ball into the goal from 10 yards to give Hawks a deserved lead.
Two minutes later Hawks increased their lead when good work in the circle worked the ball to Hobbs whose two shots were returned to him by the GK only for his third shot to find a foot on the goal line - Jack Biggs firing home the resultant penalty stroke.
Six minutes later Hobbs made a good pass to Julian Laird in the circle, only for Laird to be felled by the home keeper. Again, Biggs made no mistake from the penalty spot and Hawks took a commanding 3-0 lead into the half time break.
Plymouth seemed more determined to make a game of it in the second half, and Hawks had to work harder to retain the upper hand. But too often Hawks’ good circle entries produced no outcomes. Plymouth on the other hand started to create circle entries for themselves and, unlike Hawks, in the 42nd minute at least managed to convert one into a penalty corner. Barny Barber in the Hawks goal made a comfortable initial save and the ball was safely cleared by his defenders. Hawks suffered a couple of green cards (Simon Hill and Rob Dunnill) for, in the eyes of the umpires, some over-zealous tackles and this disrupted Hawks rhythm.
With ten minutes left on the clock the home side forced a second penalty corner. But with its execution carrying little threat, Hawks immediately countered, Biggs clearing Barber’s save to Laird who in turn quickly found Zak Hartley on the right flank. He fed the ball to Hobbs in the circle who finished smartly off his reverse stick to put the result beyond doubt.
Annoyingly, with five minutes remaining in the game, Hawks defence lost concentration and conceded a soft consolation goal but all in all a very satisfying performance and result for the M1’s.
Mentions to Barny Barber, Bas Marshall, Andy Appleton, Charlie Bowskill, Simon Hill and Zak Hartley who all made their M1 and national league debuts. At 15 years old, young Zak hopefully has a very bright hockey future ahead of him.