Men’s 1s Make Hard Work Of It
Published on 17th Oct, 2023
The M1’s made hard work of returning to winning ways on Saturday afternoon at BRN, eventually overcoming Cheltenham by 3-1 in EHL West Conference.
Hawks started well and after nine minutes a good interchange in the corner of the right flank saw the ball moved to Austin Greenlee who smartly won the first penalty corner of the game. Jack Biggs converted on his return from a two-match absence. However, most promising moves that followed in the first half fell down either because of bad decision making or poor execution and consequently Hawks failed to transfer their superior possession onto the scoreboard.
At the start of the second quarter a sloppy pass in the Hawks midfield gifted their visitors with their best field position of the game and it took a smart foot save by Barny Barber to retain their slender lead. Further chances to extend the lead came Hawks’ way in the seven minutes leading up to half time, including a penalty corner won by Simon Hill following a good pass from Biggs and the best move of the half through the inside left channel involving Hill, Jack Hobbs and Zac Hartley. But Hawks were wasteful and had just the solitary goal to show for their first half efforts.
As if to emphasise their profligacy, Hawks lead was pegged back by Cheltenham two minutes after the half time break when they were allowed to move the ball the length of the pitch to finish neatly with a deflection from close range. But Hawks responded well and five minutes later they regained their lead. Luke Hooper initially failed to control the ball on the edge of the Cheltenham circle, but his persistence saw him regain possession and turn and shoot powerfully in one move from 15 yards out. In the minutes that followed, Hawks took control of the game and several promising moves mostly restricted Cheltenham to defensive duties. But Hawks ball-handling lacked precision and at the three-quarter break Hawks lead was still only a single goal.
Four minutes after the break, Julian Laird finally gave Hawks the cushion their overall play had warranted when he carried the ball through the inside right channel before exchanging passes with Hartley and finishing smartly with a reverse stick strike. Another penalty corner brought a fine save out of the Cheltenham keeper and a quick counter out of defence presented Hobbs with an opportunity to put the game beyond doubt with five minutes left on the clock. But as in the preceding 65 minutes, Hawks failed to capitalise and they will need to play with greater accuracy when they make the trip to Devon next Saturday to take on Ashmoor who, like Hawks, have won three out of their first four games.
Many thanks to Clive Jones for the excellent photos.