The games are coming thick and fast for the Hawk's under 12's, even this early in the season, as they took on fellow division four rivals Seaford Town Youth in the Under 12's cup at Braypool. The Hawks knew that it would be a tough game, having played two very closely contested games in division three last season.
The coaches once again imparted their words of wisdom to the slightly tweaked starting line up and the very young looking (but it must be said, extremely competent) referee, blew his whistle to start proceedings.
Barely had the shrill blast of the whistle disappeared into the Braypool air than the Hawks were behind. The movement of the Seaford central striker bamboozled the Hawks defence as he timed his run to perfection, latching onto a long through ball, and finishing confidently into the corner, giving Aran no chance in the Hawks net.
Hawks Youth 0 Seaford Town Youth 1
This was the first time that the Hawks had been behind this season, and those on the sidelines wondered how they would react to such an early blow. Given that the game was being played where the RSPCA has its Brighton headquarters, it was somewhat appropriate that the Hawks responded like a wounded animal, having had their wings clipped so early on (okay no more animal references).
The Hawks immediately took control of the midfield, winning the key battles and generating good spells of possession. Jude S, terrier like in the tackle (sorry, couldn't resist) began to boss the left hand side of the pitch with good support from the overlapping Max. Jude S won another crunching tackle on the left hand side and slid a wonderful slide rule pass through to the rampaging Dan. Dan used skill and a turn of pace to beat his marker and sent a wonderful cross into the penalty area. Eben had ghosted in unmarked and took up a fantastic position at the far post. Such was the quality of the cross that he was left with the task of tapping home for a deserved equaliser.
Hawks Youth 1 Seaford Town Youth 1
The pattern of the game at this point was rather strange, with the Hawks midfield in control and fashioning good possession and chances for the forward line, whilst at the other end the Seaford striker was causing the Hawks defence all sorts of problems with his excellent movement, pulling onto each of the defenders in turn, and playing on the shoulder of the defence very well. On a number of occasions he got in behind the defence only for the ever alert Aran to snuff out the danger, acting as 'sweeper keeper.
At the other end, the Hawks had a number of half chances, Dan working well in tandem with the midfield. The Hawks won a number of corners, and as ever, Jude MH's delivery was superb, the ball bouncing dangerously in the area on more than one occasion, but the ball would not drop at a Hawks players feet and Seaford were able to clear their lines.
The balance of the team at set pieces had really come on in the games so far this season, keeping a good shape and making it difficult for the opposing team to bring the ball out of defence. From a Seaford goal kick, Dan's pressing and energy forced the defender into a mistake, and he needed no second invitation, pouncing like a hungry cheetah, and using great upper body strength to hold him off and shoot confidently into the corner and continue his fine scoring form this season.
Hawks Youth 2 Seaford Town Youth 1
Almost immediately the referee blew for half time, and the boys left the field bouyed by taking lead right at the end of the half. For the first time this season I sat in on the team talk, and the calmness and wise words of Gareth were very impressive, giving clear direction as to what was wanted in the second half. Changes were made to keep things fresh, Dylan, Frank and Jacob entering the fray.
The Hawks carried on where they had left off in the first half, Alfie and Jude bossing the midfield, and using the pace of Eben, Frank and Jacob to great effect, the two wide players beat the defence on a number of occasions, but once again the crosses seemed to elude the onrushing Hawks forwards, or shots were blocked.
Defensively the team were much tighter, the communication between Albert, Max and Dylan was excellent, ensuring there was always enough cover, both Albert and Dylan using good anticipation to get in front of the striker and win the ball, with Max sweeping up impressively behind his two defensive partners. The management team made further changes but the team ethic and shape remained intact, and the Hawks were comfortably in control.
A long clearance from Aran was allowed to bounce over the Seaford defence, and Jacob used his lightening pace to run in behind them, with a clear run on goal. He drew the goalkeeper expertly before slotting home nonchalantly with the inside of his left foot, into the corner, in similar fashion to Ozils sublime finish for Arsenal the previous day.
Hawks Youth 3 Seaford Town Youth 1
Dan came back on into midfield and immediately set off on a mazy run that almost ended in a goal scoring opportunity. Down the left hand side, Frank continually found space with his skilful dribbling. Some of the passing and movement from the Hawks really was a joy to watch, defence winning the ball and setting the midfield away, with some intricate passing triangles creating more and more space and chances.
The referee blew for full time and it was another deserved win for the Hawks against an impressive Seaford side who will prove tough opposition in the league games to come later on in the season. It was certainly an impressive performance from the team yet again, the togetherness and team spirit is great to see. So the Hawks progress in to the next round of the Under 12's cup where they will face wine connosieurs Woodingdean Youth Claret in the next round on Sunday 28th September.