Hampstead women take title; men reach finals
- Credit: Archant
Hampstead & Westminster had a day to remember as their women clinched the Conference East title and their men snatched a top-four finish.
The men went into the final weekend in fifth place, needing to win their last two matches and relying on other results to go their way.
And they took 15 minutes to break the deadlock at lowly Sevenoaks, with a Matt Guise Brown short corner.
The hosts levelled from a corner of their own moments later, but Will Calnan (2), Sam French and Mike Watt struck to put Hampstead 5-1 up at the break.
Knowing they needed more goals to boost their chances for the league finals, Hampstead took their keeper off for the second half and played with 11 outfield players, but Sevenoaks netted after seven minutes.
The hosts removed their own keeper and Hampstead cashed in as French added three more goals and Kwan Browne and Stephen Dowds also struck to seal a 10-2 win, notably boosting their goal difference.
With the top four teams playing each other on Sunday, Hampstead travelled to lowly Canterbury and found themselves 3-1 down at half time.
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Calnan replied, but time appeared to be running out for Hampstead when Guise Brown levelled with six minutes left.
Another Guise Brown short corner put them ahead and French sealed a 5-3 win in the last minute, while Reading dropped out of the top four after losing to Wimbledon late on.
Hampstead will now face Wimbledon in the semi-finals at Lee Valley on April 28.
The women needed four points from two games to be crowned champions and saw off bottom club Chelmsford 3-0 with goals from Lauren Turner, Joyce Essex and Louise Radford.
Second-placed Sevenoaks visited Paddington Rec on Sunday, but Meg Byas finished off a short corner move and Mel Wilkinson doubled Hampstead’s lead.
The visitors halved the deficit after the restart and removed their keeper with five minutes left, with two yellow cards for Hampstead setting up a nervy finale.
But the unbeaten leaders held on to claim the win and title in only their third year in the National League set-up.
They have one rearranged fixture to play in April before heading to the promotion play-offs for a chance to move into the Premier Division.