South Berkshire Terriers responded perfectly to the disappointing defeat away at Witney last week, with an assured 2-0 victory against Oxford Hawks 7s. It was a game of two halves - with Terriers on the front foot for much of the first half, whilst in the second they gave away the majority of possession without ever coming under sustained pressure in the D.
The team started brightly, with urgency and pressure giving the Hawks little time to settle on the ball. Three short corners came in relatively quick succession without success. But with 8 minutes gone a 4th was earned and a well worked penalty corner routine saw the ball slipped left to Dominic Harvey who drilled a dragflick low to the keepers right. A certain goal was only stopped by a foot on the line, and whilst the ball appeared to have dribbled across the line, a penalty flick was the final outcome. Paul Harvey stepped up and confidently slotted the flick home to give the Terriers a deserved lead.
With their tails up, the Terriers continued to press. Austin Jennings had his strongest game in a Terriers jersey, with strong running behind the defence, whilst James Romain proved an excellent target upfront with his movement keeping the Hawks defence busy. Julian Chapman made a welcome return to the Terriers midfield and his close control was too much for the Hawks to deal with as he sliced through with a couple of strong runs, and was unlucky not to earn another penalty corner after an abrupt stick tackle as he closed on the D. Alongside him in midfield, David Murray was an assured presence and treated balls fed down the right like a club treasurer guarding the weekly subs - swiftly controlling balls he received before feeding them on as the Terriers found regular opportunities to attack down the right.
1-0 at halftime was probably not a fair reward for the Terriers efforts, and the game swung in style in the second half as Hawks upped the intensity and began to take a firmer control of the game in midfield. The Terriers continued to be a threat on the break, and with 50 mins gone Ben Lambourne was rewarded for another all energy midfield display. Plucking a lofted clearance from the keeper on the edge of the D, Ben drove with the ball to the right before firing a shot hard and low into the far corner.
With a 2-0 cushion, the Terriers settled into a period of soaking up sustained pressure from Oxford Hawks. Lessons were learned from last week's defeat, and whilst the Terriers gave away the bulk of possession, they were resolute in defence, maintaining their positional awareness and ensuring that whilst the Hawks had opportunities to move the ball around, they were limited in their excursions beyond the 23m line. A high press from the Hawks proved hard to break down, but did give the Terriers the chance to try and sneak a third goal on the break when they were able to get the ball forward. James Romain was unlucky not to get more from a late break, whilst Robbie Campion was relentless again in chasing down opportunities and creating width upfront.
Overall, a well deserved victory for the Terriers - lots of positives from some great attacking play, and plenty of opportunity to continue to learn how to break down well organised, high pressing opposition. Roll on next weekend as the Terriers visit the Rovers in Reading - a dog puntastic match in the offing.