Hockey: University of Exeter 0 Hampstead & Westminster 5

Hampstead & Westminster huddle after their win at Exeter University (pic Lee Power)

Hampstead & Westminster huddle after their win at Exeter University (pic Lee Power) - Credit: Archant

Hampstead & Westminster handed out a lesson to the students of Exeter as they made it five straight wins in the Premier Division in sunny Devon.

The visitors were far from at their best during the first half, despite taking an early lead through captain Toby Roche.

And they were grateful to keeper Toby Reynolds-Cotterill for some vital saves, before doubling their advantage on the stroke of half time through Matt Guise-Brown.

A third Hampstead goal early in the second half left the hosts with a mountain to climb and they conceded twice more as last season’s runners-up showed their clinical edge.

Exeter’s Duncan Scott had the first sight of goal but sent a shot on the turn flashing wide of the right post, before Marc Edwards produced a strong run on the left on eight minutes and crossed into the D, where an initial effort came back off the far post before Roche bundled home the loose ball from close range.

Paul Melkert was shown a yellow card soon after, but Rupert Shipperley’s strong run at the heart of the home defence set up Edwards, who saw his shot blocked and Shipperley’s follow-up effort also.

Sam French had a short corner effort knocked away by Harry Mellows, but Exeter’s James Thomas was then denied by a great Reynolds-Cotterill save and James Ferguson fired a reverse-stick attempt wide.

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Sam Hooper’s short corner drag flick was pawed over the crossbar by Reynolds-Cotterill, before Hampstead’s James Oates – fresh from his goalscoring heroics for Great Britain under-21s at the Sultan of Johor Cup – had a shot from a corner blocked and Matt Guise-Brown fired wide.

Steve Kelly gave the ball away outside his own D and saw a shot from Thomas hit the back of a Hampstead defender, before Hooper’s corner flew over.

But Hampstead went 2-0 up from the last play of the half as Guise-Brown produced a fine drag flick into the bottom corner.

The second half was only three minutes old when another Guise-Brown corner was saved, but Irish international Chris Cargo helped the loose ball goalwards from an acute angle and saw it cross the line.

Joe Crame was shown a yellow card for a tackle in midfield, before Exeter’s James Carson fired wide of the near post.

But Cargo sent a reverse-stick attempt into the side netting at the other end and it proved a useful sighter as he advanced into the D on the left moments later and drilled another reverse past Mellows to make it 4-0.

A surging run from player-coach Kwan Browne then set up Oates, who fired wide, but Reynolds-Cotterill had to dive full length to knock away Archie Winter’s effort as Exeter looked for a consolation.

Hampstead had the final word five minutes from time, when Guise-Brown sent a superb short corner drag flick into the top corner of the net, but there was still time for Reynolds-Cotterill to produce a double save to thwart Hooper and Carson at a late corner.

Next Saturday sees Hampstead host Holcombe in a top-of-the-table clash at the Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre, under the floodlights.