Hampstead & Westminster’s indoor hopes on knife edge ahead of a crucial weekend
PUBLISHED: 09:00 09 January 2020
Hampstead & Westminster face a tough test to reach the Super 6 Finals after winning two of their first four matches last weekend.
With the outdoor leagues taking a winter break, Hampstead headed to Repton for the Premier Indoor League to start their bid to reach the Copper Box Arena finals in February.
First up was Surbiton, who have won all 12 of their outdoor games so far this season, and led 2-1 at half time, with Kei Kaeppeler finding the net for Hampstead from a penalty corner.
The game was on a knife edge going into the last 10 minutes, with Kwan Browne firing in a penalty corner to put Hampstead 4-3 up with five minutes left.
But the game ended in heartbreak as Surbiton goal machine Alan Forsyth scored twice in the last two minutes to take all three points.
Hampstead regrouped for game two against Reading, previously a powerhouse of indoor hockey but struggling in recent years after losing many key players.
And the experience in the Hampstead ranks was too strong as the Maida Vale outfit ran out 11-4 winners after a clinical opening and closing quarter of the game.
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Goals came from all over the squad, but Kyle White was the pick of the bunch with a hat-trick from open play.
After an early night, Sunday morning saw another challenging fixture against Wimbledon who were also sitting on three points following a win against East Grinstead and 9-3 defeat to Surbiton.
Hampstead & Westminster got off to the perfect start, with Richard Smith converting a penalty corner after just two minutes, and the sides traded a goal apiece just before the half time break to see the north Londoners ahead at the midway mark.
But like in the Surbiton game, Hampstead failed to put the game to bed and allowed two late goals from Wimbledon to steal the points and leave them vulnerable on just three points from three games.
The final game of the weekend against Bowdon was a must-win fixture to keep hopes of a top-four finish alive ahead of the final round of matches on the second weekend of action.
And, as they did on the first day, Hampstead bounced back from defeat with a clinical display of indoor hockey, beating the Northern side by a convincing 9-1 margin.
Smith and White scored twice each, with James Oates, captain Marc Edwards, Chris Cargo, Hywel Jones and Kaeppeler also on target.
Despite only winning two of their four games and sitting sixth in the table, three points behind the top five, Hampstead top the scoring charts and have the best goal difference (plus 13).
But it will be a challenge this weekend as they face three of the teams above them - Holcombe, Sevenoaks and East Grinstead - as well as Canterbury for a place at the finals weekend.