Once again the sun was shining as the fans (and their pets) arrived for the Hawks under 12's first home game of the season at Patcham Place. With the Director of Football in attendance once again, the management duo of Gareth and Rob tinkered slightly with the starting line up as we took unknown Lancing Rangers Select, who were something of an unknown quantity due to their playing in an entirely different league.
With the pre-match rituals complete (the less said about the rather public visit to the trees the better) the times lined up ready for kick off. As with last weeks match, our opponents came out of the blocks a little more quickly (perhaps we need to encourage them to get home a little earlier from clubbing on a Saturday evening!) Lancing kept the ball very well in the opening 10 minutes, and looked very dangerous moving forward down both wings and through the middle.
The communication across the Hawks backline was once again excellent,Dylan G slipping seamlessly into the back three and making some vital interceptions early on. Lancing continued to bomb forward, their link up play between midfield and their main striker was particularly impressive, but the defence held firm, The impressive Lancing number 9 did break through once or twice, but once again Aran's positioning and presence forced him to shoot wide.
The Hawks midfield began to sit a little deeper and slowly but surely started to get more possession, with some tenacious tackling from Jude S and Alfie winning the ball and releasing the pacy Josh and Jacob down the wings. Unfortunately Josh was once again the victim of a rather robust series of challenges down the left hand side and was forced to leave the field early, Frank coming on as his replacement.
With the midfield getting more possession of the ball, Hawks began to have more success attacking down both sides of the pitch. On more than one occasion we created one on one opportunities which were either met with great saves from the Lancing goalkeeper (who had a tremendous game) or were steered agonisingly wide of the post.
A wonderful dribble down the left hand side from Frank ended with a free kick on the on the left hand side of the penalty area. Jude MH strode up confidently and his wonderfully taken shot looked destined for the top corner, but sadly for Hawks, crashed against the crossbar and away to safety.
At the other end, Lancing continued to look dangerous in attack, and some skillful work from the centre forward inside the penalty area created a good chance but as ever Aran's positioning was perfect and he held the ball comfortably.
As the half drew to a close, some good work once more down the left hand side forced a corner. Jude MH's delivery was excellent, and Albert, up from the back, planted a header inches wide of the far post.
Almost immediately the referee brought an entertaining but goal less first half to a close.
Half Time Hawks 0 Lancing Rangers 0
The management duo imparted their words of wisdom, and made a defensive change as Luis came on to the left side of defence in place of Max, and made a position change pushing the pacy Jacob up front, with Jude MH moving to the right side of midfield. Lancing again started off sharply, and the Hawks defence worked hard to prevent any clear cut chances. Max returned to the fray in place of Dylan, and the defence remained extremely solid.
Alfie and Jude S were once again tackling like tigers in the middle of the pitch, and very quickly the Hawks began to dominate the game. Alfie and Jude S had the centre of the pitch totally in control and began to spray passes out wide, to the pacy front three. Frank, Jacob and Jude all created excellent chances for themselves, showing some wonderful skill and close control. Unfortunately for the Hawks the chances were not taken, they seemed to go anywhere but into the net, great goalkeeping, shots just wide, goal line clearances kept the score at 0-0. The nervous supporters on the touchline were beginning to think that perhaps this might not be our day.
with 15 minutes to go, Jude S won yet another tackle in the middle of the pitch. The ball broke to Jacob who used skill and strength to hold off the defender, and as the keeper advanced, Jacob kept his cool and slid the ball under him into the net to give the Hawks a deserved lead.
Hawks 1 Lancing Rangers 0
Hawks clearly had the momentum now and attacked at will down both flanks and through the middle. The solid defensive trio of Luis, Albert and Max provided excellent possession for the midfield, and our pace down the wings created plenty more chances. Frank again made good inroads down the left to cross for Dan, on as a second half substitute. Dan finished coolly in the corner with the Lancing players appealing in vain for offside.
Hawks 2 Lancing Rangers 0
Eben came on as a substitute on the left hand side and almost immediately linked superbly with Alfie in the middle. Alfie then produced the pass of the match, a fantastic reverse ball through to Dan who timed his run to perfection, his finish having just enough pace to go over the line before the covering defender could get there. A tight game that looked like it could be heading for extra time had suddenly been turned on its head with three quickfire goals.
Hawks 3 Lancing Rangers 0
Lancing never let their heads drop and continued to look dangerous in attack, but the defensive solidity and excellent protection from the midfield limited any clear cut chances. Max and Eben combined well down the left to force a last ditch tackle from the Lancing defence. Jude MH swung in another fantastic corner, and Dan leapt like a salmon at the near post to complete his hat trick. There was some discussion on the touchline as to who had got the final touch but having reviewed the goals from all angles on Sky Sports, the dubious goals panel have credited Dan with the goal (ensuring a not insignifcant pocket money bonus into the bargain)
Hawks 4 Lancing Rangers 0
Again, Lancing continued to press right to the end. Some resilient defending from Max resulted in a corner for Lancing. A dangerous ball was put across the Hawks box, eluding everyone except the Lancing number nine who finished confidently into the roof of the net. Despite the game being won, you could see that the Hawks players as one were annoyed to have conceded, a positive sign in terms of their spirit and determination.
Hawks 4 Lancing Rangers 1
Almost immediately the referee blew for full time, and the Hawks were into the hat for the next round of the cup. Another strong team performance from all the boys, with strong and determined tackling mixed in with some excellent passing and movement. Well played!