Defeat is hard to take for Hampstead & Westminster

Hampstead & Westminster's Toby Roche is partially hidden by Wimbledon players celebrating a goal at

Hampstead & Westminster's Toby Roche is partially hidden by Wimbledon players celebrating a goal at the England Hockey finals weekend (pic England Hockey) - Credit: Archant

Captain Roche disappointed to lose to Wimbledon

Hampstead & Westminster captain Toby Roche could not hide his frustration after their 2-1 loss to Wimbledon at the league finals day at Lee Valley, writes Lee Power.

First-half short corner goals from Simon Mantell and Borja Llorens left Hampstead with a mountain to climb, but Richard Alexander halved the deficit early in the final quarter.

It was not enough, though, as Wimbledon held on to reach the final, which they lost on penalty shuffles to Surbiton, while Hampstead went down 7-3 to Holcombe in the third-place play-off match.

Roche said: “It’s incredibly disapppointing to lose in such a tight fixture. We felt we had a chance to win, we felt we had the run of the game.

“It’s very small margins. They executed their short corners well and scored two out of three and we didn’t capitalise on our chances.

“We’re two well-matched sides, but unfortunately the rub of the green didn’t quite fall for us.

Most Read

“They’re an experienced side and did incredibly well to get into the final four in Europe, so they know how to win and close out games. All credit to them, they took their chances and did what they had to do. We felt we had enough to win the game but it didn’t happen.”

Hampstead had finished the regular season in fourth place, after enjoying two close battles with Wimbledon, who topped the table.

And Roche hopes their battling qualities will serve them well when the return to action next season, adding: “We lost 2-1 at their place, drew 2-2 at home and lost 2-1 again. We know we give them a good game and it’s always very tight.

“A few times this season we’ve come from behind and really fought fixtures when probably we shouldn’t have won them and we have done.

“When ‘Ratman’ scored we still thought we could get two or three chances to win the game, but they closed it out well and it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

“It’s the first time the club has ever got to the play-offs. We’ve previously been struggling at the other end of the table, but with Kwan (Browne) and new players coming in it has taken a bit of time to gel.

“But we’re getting to where we think the club ought to be. It’s good to have the experience and hopefully we’ll do better next year.”