Hampstead & Westminster squeeze past Cannock to clinch Premier League survival

Joel Carroll

Joel Carroll - Credit: Archant

Hampstead & Westminster secured their Premier League place status after a dramatic weekend that began with a last-gasp defeat and ended with a decisive victory.

H&W went into the double-header against Wimbledon and Cannock needing a win to secure their survival – and they looked in real trouble after the first match.

Wimbledon were the better side from the start on Saturday, exerting constant pressure.

The game was goalless at the break and for much of the second half, but Phil Ball netted the winner for Wimbledon in the last minute as he buried his reverse stick shot with conviction.

That setback made Sunday’s clash against Cannock a six-pointer, with Hampstead one place and two points ahead of their hosts. A victory for either side would leave the other needing one more win to have any hope of avoiding the drop.

The game was nervy in the opening stages with both sides trying to keep it tight, but Cannock broke the deadlock on 25 minutes as Callum Mackenzie volleyed home.

A rallying cry from coach Michael Johnson saw Hampstead emerge for the second half with added impetus, and Joel Carroll restored parity on 42 minutes when he converted a penalty corner. A second quickly followed, as Sean Loughrey scored against his former side to give Hampstead & Westminster a precious lead.

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Cannock exerted plenty of pressure and won a penalty corner on the final whistle. However, Richard Alexander came to the rescue for Hampstead, charging down the shot to secure the three points.

With other results going their way, Hampstead moved up to sixth – and safety – and will play their final league game this weekend against undefeated Holcombe.

Meanwhile, Hampstead & Westminster ladies hosted seasoned National League team Sevenoaks on Saturday. Hampstead were keen to continue to build on the previous week’s strong performance, where they beat league leaders Slough 3-0.

Alexandra Irwin opened the scoring for the home side finished off an assist by Cressida Grant. Hampstead kept working hard all over the pitch and creating chances, forcing a second goal just before half-time when Irwin struck again.

Two goals up at the break, Hampstead started the second half well and Fleur Horner converted a strong penalty corner with a hard slap into the corner.

A goal by Sevenoaks put some pressure on the home team in a panicky final 15 minutes, but Hampstead & Westminster hung on for victory.