Hockey: Hawks start the long haul

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The Independent Online
OXFORD HAWKS, pushed back into the Inter League play-offs after an appeal ruling rescued Harleston Magpies during the week by restoring four points to them, set about ensuring their place in the National League next season at Milton Keynes yesterday rather than resorting to the courts as they have threatened.

Hawks had to settle for a 2-2 draw against Harborne, after dominating the opening exchanges and squandering numerous chances. They took control midway through the first half with two goals inside a minute. Ali McShane, guilty of several early misses, was the architect of both goals - the first for his captain, Simon Dawson, and the second for the former Hounslow striker Matt Osborne. With Hawks reduced to 10 men by the temporary suspension of Ed Baldock, James Wright pulled a goal back for Harborne for a final 2-2 scoreline.

The opening game started dramatically with a second-minute penalty stroke awarded to Eastcote after Peterborough's Steve Gregory sold a dummy to goalkeeper Dan Brown, who was adjudged to have brought him down in the resulting collision. After consultation, the umpire changed his mind, however.

After Eastcote had twice surrendered the lead, they won two penalty corners with James Grant getting a deflection off Danny Geach's powerful strike for the winner. Grant's moment of glory was short lived as he was sent to the sin-bin for a crude tackle on the restart. As time was called, Peterborough won a penalty corner but clumsily failed to get the ball back into the circle.

Eastcote's 3-2 victory was built on a solid defence, in which a former Cambridge University captain, Colin Carter, did all required of him while his brother, Steve, scored their first two goals. Peterborough's replies came from the non-stop Gregory and their captain, Mark Britton, at a penalty corner.