It’s a winning start for both Hampstead & Westminster teams as they return to play

Lucy Hyams fires home (pic Andy Smith)

Lucy Hyams fires home (pic Andy Smith) - Credit: Archant

Hampstead & Westminster’s women and men got the 2020-21 hockey season off to winning starts at the weekend.

Holly Hunt attacks (pic Andy Smith)

Holly Hunt attacks (pic Andy Smith) - Credit: Archant

The women were in action first on Saturday, as they travelled to Nottingham to take on Beeston.

Having finished just two points behind runners-up East Grinstead last season, their debut in the top flight of the Investec League, they forced a lot of short corners in the first half, but were unable to take advantage as the scoreline remained blank.

After making some changes to tidy their play, Hampstead made the breakthrough in the third quarter with a perfectly executed counter attack as Lauren Turner squared the ball to Holly Hunt in the circle and she fired between the legs of the keeper.

The second goal came from an absolutely fantastic crossfield ball from Grace Balsdon to Lucy Hyams at the top of the D, who brilliantly eliminated a Beeston player and fired the ball home on her backhand.

Lucy Hyams fires home (pic Andy Smith)

Lucy Hyams fires home (pic Andy Smith) - Credit: Archant

Beeston created a couple of opportunities as the game became more open in the fourth quarter but nothing to worry Hampstead too much as, after a long break from league hockey, they kicked the season off with an away win.

Hampstead are without a game this weekend, as the odd team out in an 11-strong division, but return to action on October 3 when they welcome Loughborough Students to Paddington Rec for a 1.30pm start.

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The men, meanwhile, also began their Premier Division quest on the road as they journeyed to the West Country to take on Exeter University.

Sam French put them ahead with a fifth-minute tap-in at the near post but Charlie Taylor hit back to level against the run of play.

Grace Balsdon at a penalty corner (pic Andy Smith)

Grace Balsdon at a penalty corner (pic Andy Smith) - Credit: Archant

Hampstead & Westminster then moved 2-1 up on 21 minutes through a clinical Hywel Jones finish and last season’s runners-up added three more goals in a seven-minute spell to take control.

Matt Guise-Brown fired a penalty corner into the top of the goal, before James Oates finished off a superb pattern of play for the fourth.

And Guise-Brown then converted from another penalty corner shortly before half-time to put Hampstead 5-1 up.

Joseph Sharp received a green card late in the half, leaving the visitors down to 10 men after the restart, and Guise-Brown was similarly penalised on 42 minutes.

Lucy Hyams celebrates (pic Andy Smith)

Lucy Hyams celebrates (pic Andy Smith) - Credit: Archant

Exeter’s numerical advantage was negated when Kiran Patel was carded for a poorly timed tackle, but the home side netted a second on 50 minutes through a Duncan Scott penalty flick.

And after Hampstead failed to capitalise on a period of pressure in the final quarter – a goalline clearance denying Guise-Brown a hat-trick of corners – Exeter got a third through Max Sydenham.

But there was to be no fairytale finish for the students as Hampstead & Westminster recorded a 5-3 win at the end of an action-packed encounter.

Like the women, they are also without a fixture this coming weekend but they entertain Old Georgians on Sunday, October 4 (2.30pm).