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Fox hopes it will third time lucky as Hampstead & Westminster reach EHB Cup final

PUBLISHED: 11:14 21 March 2013 | UPDATED: 11:14 21 March 2013

Hampstead & Westminster's Olympian Dan Fox (right) in action against Beeston in last year's EHB Cup final

Hampstead & Westminster's Olympian Dan Fox (right) in action against Beeston in last year's EHB Cup final

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Hampstead & Westminster’s Dan Fox hopes he and his team-mates can shake off their ‘nearly men’ tag and win the EHB Cup after reaching the final for the third time in four years.

H&W contested the final of the national competition in 2010, and they also made the semi-finals in 2011 and last year’s final – only to be beaten by Beeston on every occasion.

However, Hampstead overcame their rivals in this year’s quarter-finals, and they went on to beat Cannock on penalties in the last four on Sunday.

“Hopefully it will be third time lucky,” said Fox, who represented Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics. “We’ve lost against Beeston for the last three years in the cup, but we’ve got rid of that demon now.

“This is pretty much the equivalent of the FA Cup in hockey, and the club have never won a national trophy or won the Premier League, so this is another chance to win our first major piece of silverware.”

Hampstead had home advantage for Sunday’s semi-final against Cannock. Andrew Smith put Hampstead ahead after eight minutes, and they held that lead until 11 minutes from time – but Peter Jackson equalised for the visitors and Matt Plunkett then put Cannock 2-1 up.

Fortunately, Chris Bowen equalised a minute later and the match headed to extra-time and then penalty flicks.

Hampstead’s Will Naylor and Sam Pike scored their efforts, but Cannock missed their first attempt and Ian Scanlon saved their second to make it 2-0, before Neil Hamilton and Jack Beard found the net to win the contest 4-1.

“We were fairly comfortable in the first half but we didn’t put the game to bed and then they went 2-1 up and it looked like we’d thrown it away, “said Fox. “Luckily Chris scored. He plays in defence and I think it was his first goal of the season – it wasn’t a bad time to get it.

“I was due to take the last penalty so it was a bit of a relief that it didn’t get that far – especially as it was so cold I could barely hold my stick!

“These things are over quickly and it either goes your way or it doesn’t. Our first three flicks were really good and they missed their first two so it was basically over.”

H&W will take on Surbiton in the final on May 4, and Fox will be up against some familiar faces – including H&W’s former coach Todd Williams.

“Todd was our coach in all of those cup games against Beeston, when we got so close to winning it – but he’s coaching Surbiton now so either he’s going to finally do it and win the cup or we are!” said Fox.

“I know James Tindall and Rob Moore from the Great Britain team – we were all at the Olympics together – and Chris Grassick has just been called up as well.

“We played Surbiton on Saturday, the day before the semi-finals, and we all said ‘hopefully see you in the

final’. It turns out that’s what’s going to happen.”

Ominously, Surbiton won Saturday’s league clash 3-1 on their home turf, leaving Hampstead eighth out of the 10 teams in the top flight with one fixture remaining.

“It’s been a bit of a disappointing season in the league,” said Fox. “We’re safe from relegation but we’ve had mixed results.

“We drew with Surbiton and Beeston, who are the top two teams, but we also drew with Southgate, who are in the bottom two.

“We’ve had lots of new players this season and a new coach, Chris Roholt, so it was inevitable really – but we’ve got the chance to end the season on a real high now with the cup final.”

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