Hampstead & Westminster’s hopefuls end season with wins, but wonder what now?
PUBLISHED: 17:30 19 March 2020
Hampstead & Westminster enjoyed a home double over Beeston in their final matches of the regular domestic season.
But having secured their semi-final spots ahead of League Finals, they saw England Hockey then suspend all activity until April 15 at the earliest due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The women needed to win and hope rivals East Grinstead didn’t to claim the runners-up spot in the Investec League Premier Division and Joyce Esser broke the deadlock in the second quarter.
Rochelle Gianfrancesco denied relegation-threatened Beeston on the counter, but it took until the 59th minute for Hampstead to double their lead at a penalty corner, as leading scorer Joie Leigh netted her 11th goal of the season.
Two goals in the last three minutes from Lauren Turner and Esser sealed a 4-0 win, but East Grinstead’s win over champions Surbiton ensured they would finish second and earn home advantage in the semi-final with Hampstead, who finished third after a remarkable debut season in the top flight.
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The men hosted their Beeston rivals at Paddington Rec the following day, with their Great Britain internationals available after a warm weather training camp in South Africa was postponed.
And they also needed a win to secure second place behind champions Surbiton, but saw a host of early chances go begging and Lekan Ogunlana deny Beeston on a breakaway.
Despite a 10-minute yellow card for Richard Smith, Hampstead broke the deadlock as Rupert Shipperley fired home from the top of the D, having recently earned a centralised GB contract alongside three clubmates.
The game continued with more drama than the home side would have liked with three further cards, but Shipperley managed to add a second goal late on to settle the home side’s nerves.
And although Wimbledon inflicted a first defeat of the season upon Surbiton, Hampstead cliched the runners-up spot for a second successive season and a home semi-final.
However, with those ties originally scheduled to be played on the weekend of March 28/29 and the finals on April 4/5 it remains to be seen if they will get a chance to defend their title at the Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre.