Hampstead & Westminster captain hails hitman Andy Hayward after sixth strike

Hampstead's Richard Alexander (right) and Will Naylor (left) celebrate with Andy Hayward after the N

Hampstead's Richard Alexander (right) and Will Naylor (left) celebrate with Andy Hayward after the New Zealand international opened the scoring in the draw at Beeston. Pic: Josh Dixon - Credit: Archant

Summer signing Andy Hayward scored his sixth goal from a penalty corner in four games as Hampstead & Westminster drew 1-1 away against last year’s champions Beeston in the men’s Premier Division.

The New Zealand international’s latest strike took him joint top of the goalscoring chart, alongside East Grinstead’s Ashley Jackson.

Captain Toby Roche told Ham&High Sport: “With a guy of his calibre and world-class status we were expecting big things but he’s hit the ground much faster than we expected.

“He’s very clinical at corners – I think he’s scored six out of nine or 10 and there’s almost an expectation now when we win one – but his contribution to the build-up and his influence on the group have also been big factors.

“He’s a very affable guy and it’s great to have someone of his experience in the dressing room and in training and giving pointers to some of the younger players.

“The appointment of [coach] Michael Johnson and his staff has also been very important and we’ve had big performances from people like Harry Gibson, our new goalkeeper, so it’s not just about Andy.

“I’ve been hugely encouraged with how things have gone so far this season, but we’re four games in and it’s only a start.”

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H&W started strongly in Nottingham with Great Britain Olympians Richard Alexander and Ian Mackay making good headway in midfield.

After good work down the left in the 23rd minute, the visitors won a penalty corner and Hayward converted with aplomb to establish a well-deserved lead.

Going behind forced Beeston to click into gear and they exerted a sustained period of pressure, only being denied an equaliser by the in-form Hampstead keeper Gibson.

The second half was a frantic affair with both teams creating, and wasting, good chances. But Beeston levelled 20 minutes from time as Sam Ward struck following a neat ball into the middle.

Hampstead pressed for the winner with Alexander, Nick Page and Harry Slater all making useful contributions in creating opportunities. Both sides had good chances but the goalkeepers ensured there were no more goals at either end and honours ended even.

Hampstead, who sit third in the top-flight table, travel to face second-placed Surbiton on Saturday.