West Hampstead are defeated by Oxford University as six players lose against their former side

Laxman Karan (centre) maintained his record of scoring in every game this season, but West Hampstead

Laxman Karan (centre) maintained his record of scoring in every game this season, but West Hampstead were defeated. Pic: Paolo Minoli - Credit: Archant

Six members of the West Hampstead squad suffered a home defeat against their former side on Saturday as Oxford University emerged victorious at Whitefield School.

Tom Bullock, Ally Brown, Ben Battcock, Dan Solomon, Harry Slater and Ed Perry all played for the Blues in the early noughties and they came up against their old coach John Shaw at the weekend.

Ironically it was an own goal from ex-Cambridge student Allan Williamson that gave second-placed Oxford their lead, and Tom Williams then put the visitors 2-0 up.

Laxman Karan halved the deficit in the dying moments with a trademark penalty corner – maintaining his record of scoring in all five league games this season – but West Hampstead suffered their third defeat and are one of three sides sitting on four points in the bottom half of the Southern Premier Division Two table.

Bullock told Ham&High Sport: “It was a tough game that meant a lot to a number of our team for obvious reasons. We felt we negated their obvious youthful advantage but, once again, our lack of cutting edge in their circle, combined with two defensive errors, cost us.

“It’s a tight league though and so we move on to the next game and we’re looking to put a run together. If we can cut out the errors, man for man we feel we can compete and win against anyone.”

A tight first half ended goalless and West Hampstead captain Phil Young emphasised the importance of concentration during the interval, but the first lapse of concentration came from his team as Williamson struggled to control a bobbling cross in front of his own goal and deflected the ball past the wrong-footed goalkeeper Adam Carter.

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Oxford grew in confidence after their breakthrough and promptly doubled their lead as Williams met a low cross at the back post, leaving West Hampstead up against it with 20 minutes left.

Their frustrations boiled over and Benji Knights-Johnson and Slater were sin-binned. But, despite being down to 10 men for long periods, the home side continued to battle away.

Bullock almost narrowed the gap, spinning audaciously and leaving three defenders for dead before shooting narrowly wide, and with two minutes left he was denied by the visiting goalkeeper after a deflection move from a penalty corner.

The resulting set piece was dispatched by Karan, halving the deficit with 90 seconds left – and West Hampstead then won another penalty corner at the death. But, this time, Karan’s flick was saved.