You’d have to rewind back all the way to 25th June for when Hawks last had an opportunity to play at home at the Hawks Nest. COVID restrictions combined with wet weather had prevented Hawks from hosting a match for 7 weeks, but they were finally back at the Nest, taking on Adelaide Victory.
Coach Gaz Von Duve made two changes to last week’s line up, with Liam Mullan starting in the midfield after Callum Elms sustained an injury in the match against Cobras. New signing, Paris Duffield, had his first match in the starting 11 for Hawks, replacing Ollie Grant who was suspended the week before.
In Hawks defence were Goalkeeper Connor Hudson, Captain Nathan Elliott, Jared Daly, Owen Smith and Nick Walker. Joining Mullan and Duffield in midfield were Callum Hutchins and Scott Harrison, with Jake Loechel and Danny Pauli playing up front.
After a clear sunny day, the temperature at the Hawks Nest plummeted to 9 degrees for the 7.00pm kick off. Hawks had an early chance within the first 5 minutes of play, sending Victory scrambling to defend with a header and block before it eventually was put out for a corner. Hawks dominated large passages of play in the first half and were able to soak up the pressure from Victory when they pressed. Hawks were finally able to break the deadlock in the 35th minute from a set piece. From the corner kick, Elliott timed his leap in front of goal, rising above the pack to score a powerful header. Hawks camped out in Victory’s half for the remaining 10 minutes and held the 1-0 lead going into the half time break.
Pauli had a clear run and shot on target early in the second half which the Victory ‘keeper was able to palm away. Shortly after, through a passage of play down the right wing, Hawks defence were caught flat footed and the Victory Striker was able to ghost in and calmly place the ball into the back of the net, making it 1-1.
Hawks came agonisingly close in the 63rd from a Hutchins free kick, which Loechel cut back across goal, but Hawks were 2 seconds too late to tap it in from close range, allowing time for the Victory ‘keeper to scoop up the ball out of danger. Hawks made their first sub shortly after, with Elms coming on for Harrison. In the 73rd minute, Coach Von Duve made his second substitute, replacing Smith with Sam Thomas, a cautionary measure with Smith carrying a bit of an injury.
Hudson pulled off a great save to deny Victory in the 80th minute, Hawks had further chances that they couldn’t convert before Victory had one last opportunity. The Victory attacker was at such close range in front of an open net that it was actually more difficult for him to miss – but miss he did, sending the ball skyward and over the cross bar from about a foot out from goal. The drama didn’t end there, Hawks had one last attempt themselves, again missing contact with the ball by a split second much to the dismay of the Hawks supporters who were behind the goal and let out a groan in unison. Shortly after the Referee blew his whistle, the game ending in a 1-1 draw.
Best players for Hawks were Loechel, Elliott, Pauli, Mullan and Hutchins. Hawks Travel away this week to take on Fulham, returning for a Plethora of catch up games at the Nest from Tuesday 24th August.