Hampstead & Westminster captain has mixed feelings about timing of winter break

Hampstead & Westminster captain Toby Roche. Pic: Mark Clews

Hampstead & Westminster captain Toby Roche. Pic: Mark Clews - Credit: Archant

Hampstead & Westminster captain Toby Roche says he has mixed feelings about the timing of the winter break as the men’s Premier Division stops for two months.

After winning their first two top-flight fixtures, a new-look H&W side has struggled in recent weeks, winning just one of their following nine league games.

However, Hampstead fought back from two goals down on Saturday to earn a 2-2 draw away against league leaders East Grinstead – who had only dropped points in one other game - thanks to goals from Will Naylor and Matt Botha.

It meant Hampstead ended 2014 on a high, with their next Premier League fixture a long way in the distance on February 8.

Asked if the break had come at an inconvenient time, Roche told Ham&High Sport: “Yes and no. The break serves us well in the sense that it gives our injured players time to recover.

“We lost [New Zealand international] Andy Hayward to a broken thumb away at Surbiton [on October 11] and that needed an operation so hopefully we’ll have him back in the new year. It also gives us time to reassess things and regroup.

“But it’s frustrating timing that we can’t now build on Saturday’s result and try to get some momentum together.

Most Read

“We felt we’d put together a 40-minute period in the second half, and that we were going to get the next goal if there was going to be one, so it would have been good to have taken that confidence forward.”

Despite the weekend’s result, Hampstead dropped to seventh place out of the 10 teams in the table, and they will spend the winter break sitting three points outside the top two.

The bottom side will be relegated at the end of the season, while the team above them will be involved in a relegation play-off competition.

“We didn’t really set any definite goals at the start of the season,” said Roche. “We had a new coach and new players so we knew this was going to be kind of a transitional year.

“I think if we can be the ‘best of the rest’ we’ll be happy with that. The top four teams have got a bit of a gap behind them now.

“If we can do something about that in the new year then that would be great, but the focus will be on beating the teams around us and putting some distance between ourselves and the bottom two.

“We’ve got Canterbury – who are bottom – in our first game back so a good performance and a good result there would help in that regard.

“We’ll be following a fitness programme with gym sessions over the next couple of months, and we’ve got indoor tournaments.

“There are regional qualifiers over two weekends at the start of January, with the potential for a third.”