Hockey: Hampstead & Westminster men crowned champions

Matt Guise-Brown (pic Mark Clews)

Matt Guise-Brown (pic Mark Clews) - Credit: Archant

Hampstead & Westminster 3 Surbition 1

Hampstead & Westminster’s men were crowned champions of England after beating Surbiton at the League Finals at Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre.

The two sides met in a repeat of the 2018 final, which Surbiton won on penalty shuffles, only this time Hampstead claimed the bragging rights to cap their 125th anniversary in stunning style.

After a fiery opening few minutes, Hampstead opened the scoring towards the end of the first quarter with a drag flick at a penalty corner from Matt Guise-Brown.

They were down to 10 men at the time after Harry Martin was green-carded, but Surbiton saw two members of their corner defence team sent to halfway, before Hampstead worked the ball to the top of the D for Guise-Brown to fire goalwards, where it took a slight deflection to beat Harry Gibson.

And it could have been 2-0 as Sam French fired inches wide of the far post before the end of the quarter.

GB international Will Calnan won another corner early in the second period, but Richard Smith fired wide of the left post with Guise-Brown on the sidelines.

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Toby Reynolds-Cotterill made a stunning stick save to deny player of the season Alan Forsyth and preserve his side’s lead, as league champions Surbiton looked to get back on terms.

And a foul by Chris Cargo handed Surbiton their first corner of the match, with Brendan Creed finding the net from close range, only for the goal to be ruled out by the umpires, who judged the ball had not come out of the D.

Martin played in Kei Kaeppeler on the right to win a corner for Hampstead, with Guise-Brown back on the pitch for this set-piece.

But James Goole picked the resulting flick off the line and Calnan was thwarted by Gibson seconds later, before Surbiton countered to go close through Dave Pickett.

James Oates was next to go close for Hampstead as the first half entered its closing stages, with Kaeppeler shown a green card.

But they doubled their lead in the third quarter with another stunning goal from leading scorer Guise-Brown, leaving Surbiton with a mountain to climb in the last 15 minutes.

And they halved the deficit with just over eight minutes to go as a long aerial pass found Tom Salisbury on the left and he advanced into the D and played the ball into the net off Jonny Gooch.

Calnan had a chance to make it 3-1 almost immediately but Gibson made the save, and also denied Oates shortly after.

Hampstead had Mark Edwards to thank for a block on the line at a Surbiton corner, though, after Cargo had been penalised for a tackle.

And Reynold-Cotterill kept out a drive from Forsyth as the match entered the final three minutes.

Surbiton removed Gibson for a kicking-back, with two and a half minutes left, but the move backfired as a long ball reached French, who kept his composure to find the vacated net for the third Hampstead goal.

It was a case of redemption for French, who had missed in the shoot-out a year earlier, and capped a superb day for the club after the women had gained promotion to the Premier Division only a couple of hours earlier.