Hawley were feeling ready to take their opportunity to close the gap on the two teams above them. The match started at a high pace, no sign of Christmas break cobwebs from either side, and continued in the same manner right to the end.
Hawley didn’t play badly and had the territorial advantage for most of the game. However, they found it difficult to create clear chances and those they did weren’t quite put away.
The back four was a back three for most of the game – starting as Thomas in the centre, Brad to the right and Kai to the left. Patch followed his man all over the pitch as required and it was great to see him back at his most powerful. For the first half and most of the match, the defence looked solid. Thomas was always there when the ball broke through and cleared effectively every time. Brad and Kai made sure they were first to the ball and found a Hawley shirt with a clearance or a simple pass where time allowed.
Macca and Connor fought hard in central midfield, with Mitch to the left and Alex to the right. Hawley found it hard to make the same use of the width as they usually do, with plenty of chasing and tackling required of all midfielders.
Up front, Allec and Lewis were strong and ran all game. But chances to catch Pinewood on the break were very limited and when they did reach the penalty area, Pinewood always seem to have players back there in numbers.
Joe was commanding as usual and calmly collected any saves he was required to make.
Hawley had a few chances in the first half, most from free kicks, but weren’t able to make any of them count.
In the second half, new signing Ben Toye
came into left midfield. He soon broke through and slotted the ball past the keeper, only to see it hit the inside of the left-hand post and bounce kindly to a Pinewood defender.
A good through ball to the Pinewood left-midfielder had Alex scrambling back. Alex got there and held him up, but Pinewood managed to get a cross in, which was met by their forward and turned past Joe for 1-0.
A little later Pinewood went two up thanks to a fine header over the advancing Joe, from a lofted ball.
Hawley didn’t give up and kept coming forward. Saphal came into his usual role, Johnny into left midfield (with Ben moving to the right) and Miles into left back. The boys starting playing higher up the pitch looking for elusive goals. Some chances came and went, but no golden ones as Pinewood were able to crowd out most attacks.
Hawley couldn’t be faulted for effort and there was a good degree of quality too, but it wasn’t their day. There were definitely positives to take from the match, the biggest of which was the return of Patch who won man of the match for his very strong display.
Man of the Match: Patrick