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Hampstead & Westminster can’t alleviate relegation fears after draw against Reading

PUBLISHED: 09:00 05 March 2015

Hampstead and Westminster's James Simpson (left) celebrates his goal against Reading. Pic: Mark Clews

Hampstead and Westminster's James Simpson (left) celebrates his goal against Reading. Pic: Mark Clews

© Mark Clews

Hampstead & Westminster’s men were unable to alleviate their relegation fears in the Premier Division as they twice lost the lead at home in a 2-2 draw against Reading on Saturday.

Reading's Ben Boon (far left) deflects the ball into the roof of the net past the diving Hampstead and Westminster goalkeeper Harry Gibson at Paddington Recreation Ground. Pic: Mark ClewsReading's Ben Boon (far left) deflects the ball into the roof of the net past the diving Hampstead and Westminster goalkeeper Harry Gibson at Paddington Recreation Ground. Pic: Mark Clews

The situation could have got even worse on Sunday as they went 1-0 down to basement boys Southgate, but the game was abandoned prematurely when the referee pulled a calf muscle and was unable to continue, or be replaced.

That may prove to be a valuable let-off for H&W but they nonetheless dropped to eighth place out of the 10 teams in the division and face a real fight to retain their top-flight status, lying just three points ahead of both of the bottom two sides, Canterbury and Southgate, with three games to play.

New Zealand international Andy Hayward returned from a couple of months playing in the star-studded Indian Premier League, and Hampstead made a bright start at Reading on Saturday, playing arguably their best hockey of the season.

Matt Botha furthered his recent goalscoring prowess, firing home inside the Reading circle, but the visitors began to create chances and Ben Boon dived to deflect a superb right-wing cross into the net.

Hampstead regained their lead as man of the match James Simpson scored his first competitive goal for the club, leaving the hosts 2-1 up at half-time – and he was then denied by the keeper in the second half.

But instead of going 3-1 up, Hampstead conceded a second equaliser in the final 10 minutes when goalkeeper Harry Gibson conceded a penalty stroke.

H&W then started poorly away at Southgate the following day and soon fell behind, only to be saved from a potential defeat to the league’s bottom side as the referee pulled up in the 24th minute and had to call the game off.

Hampstead host Surbiton on Sunday and will then have a double-header on the final weekend.


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