Hampstead head into break on winning high

Fran Tew on the attack (pic Mark Clews)

Fran Tew on the attack (pic Mark Clews) - Credit: Archant

Hampstead & Westminster’s hockey hopefuls head into the winter break on a high after away wins at the weekend.

Sam French battles for the ball (pic Mark Clews)

Sam French battles for the ball (pic Mark Clews) - Credit: Archant

The women travelled to in-form University of Birmingham, who had drawn with Surbiton a week earlier, as the Investec League leaders dropped their first points.

And they opened the scoring in the second quarter as Lauren Turner deflected Sarah Robertson's reverse-stick cross home.

The home side levelled before half time from a short corner, but Hampstead regained the lead seven minutes into the second half as Fran Tew fired a rocket of a reverse stick shot into the corner, giving the keeper no chance.

Joie Leigh finished off a clinical corner deflection in the final quarter of the game to take her tally for the season to nine and seal a 3-1 win for Hamppstead, who sit in second place in their top flight debut, with six games to play in 2020, looking to seal a spot at the League Finals in April.

Lauren Turner shields the ball (pic Mark Clews)

Lauren Turner shields the ball (pic Mark Clews) - Credit: Archant

The men also travelled north for their last game of 2019 to take on Brooklands Manchester, with second placed Wimdledon taking on third placed Old Georgians.

And they got off to a strong start, withh Sam French finishing off a brilliantly worked team goal with an equally impressive finish.

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Hampstead continued to exert pressure on the opposition with Matthew Guise-Brown forcing a string of strong saves from penalty corners, but they were unable to extend their lead.

Brooklands equalised midway through the second quarter with a well worked penalty corner from Peter Flanagan but Hampstead were back ahead only moments later with a cheeky backhand from Ireland's Chris Cargo to lead 2-1 at half time.

Joie Leigh looks to pass (pic Mark Clews)

Joie Leigh looks to pass (pic Mark Clews) - Credit: Archant

Hampstead added to their lead just before the end of the third quarter with a clinical rebound finish by Rhodri Furlong after a shot from skipper Toby Roche had been saved.

And Welsh international Rupert Shipperley made it 4-1 with a well directed deflection through the keeper's legs, with 12 minutes remaining.

But Brooklands showed character and scored two quick counter-attack goals to set up a tense finish.

Hampstead held on for a 4-3 win to go into Christmas in third place, one point behind Wimbledon with a game in hand.

They head indoors in the new year and hope to repeat last season's impressive campaign and reach the Super Six finals in February.

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