Hampstead & Westminster suffer home defeat against Beeston

Richard Alexander (left) in action for Hampstead & Westminster. Pic: Mark Clews

Richard Alexander (left) in action for Hampstead & Westminster. Pic: Mark Clews - Credit: Archant

Hampstead & Westminster suffered a 1-0 home defeat against title contenders Beeston in the men’s Premier Division on Sunday.

In the reverse fixture back in October the sides had produced a thrilling encounter with chances at both ends, eventually resulting in a share of the spoils and a 1-1 draw – but Beeston left London with all three points this time.

A strong crowd assembled at Paddington Recreation Ground and the home team played with composure and poise as they gradually built from the back and fed the midfield trio of Iain Mackay, Richard Alexander and Harry Slater.

The Nottinghamshire side tried to put pressure on the Hampstead back line, but they were able to turn their strong defensive work into periods of attacking force.

Instead, the Beeston keeper was forced into a string of top-quality stops, repelling a deft deflection from Matt Botha and then making a spectacular double save to stop Will Naylor at a penalty corner.

Beeston, following the example set by their netminder, then grew in confidence and began to find their stride in attacking areas.

The visitors broke down the right-hand side and won a penalty corner for a foot in the D, before earning a short corner – and during a goalline scrap they managed to bundle the ball in at the back post.

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Going in at half-time 1-0 down, Hampstead came out fighting in the second half but failed to build any attacking momentum.

Beeston were happy to soak up pressure and play on the break, their experienced heads demonstrating some resolute defending as they stuck to the task.

Despite the best efforts of midfielder Slater, breaking up the counter-attacks and feeding the ball to Alexander and Alex Jakeman, who probed forward, the hosts were unable to create any clear-cut chances.

Hampstead exerted intense pressure in the last 10 minutes in the hope of grabbing a share of the spoils, but it was not to be as late cries for two penalty corners were turned down by the umpires.

Hampstead, who remain sixth in the table, travel to Manchester on Sunday to face eighth-placed Brooklands MU, who are just one point behind.