Week 5 Featured Match Review: Hampstead and Westminster 3-2 Cannock

Hampstead and Westminster clash over the ball

A 68th minute winner from Hampstead and Westminster’s Toby Roche broke Cannock hearts in a pulsating encounter at Paddington Rec. The home side had raced into a 2-0 half time lead with strikes from David Smith and Richard Hildreth but a second half brace from Cannock’s David Beckett almost gave Andy Mitchelle’s side a share of the spoils.

The game was played at a furious pace throughout and the first chance fell to Nick Bandurak who shot wide of the far post when in space at the top of the D.

Hampstead got their noses in front on six minutes. Patrick Smith got down well to his right to repel a penalty corner but David Smith followed up and despatched the rebound.

Cannock’s goalkeeper was called into action again almost from the re-start. Callum Stoddart hit the baseline and found Nicholas MacLauchlan but his effort was well smothered by Smith.

Cannock forced their first penalty corner after 15 minutes. They slipped the ball left to Peter Jackson whose low flick was well saved by Ian Scanlon. The visitors forced another penalty corner in the 26th minute which was upgraded to a penalty stroke when the flick hit a foot on the line. Beckett stepped up and despite sending Scanlon the wrong way, hit the post, ensuring the score remained 1-0.

Three minutes before the break they were made to pay. Iain Mackay, who had an outstanding game, picked up the ball near the top of the D. Although a heavy first touch took the ball away from him, the former GB star got a shot off at full stretch. Richard Hildreth was alert and pounced to poke home his team mate’s shot at the back post.

Hampstead could have extended their lead immediately after the re-start. David Jameson’s looped cross fooled everyone and fell to Hildreth at the far post but his stabbed volley went wide.

Cannock were starting to get a foothold in the game and after 45 minutes they pulled one back. A mix up in the home defence resulted in the ball falling to Beckett inside the D. Cannock’s No.11 showed excellent composure, waiting for the goalkeeper to go to ground before rifling the ball into the roof of the net with a searing reverse stick shot.

Hampstead were clearly wobbling and five minutes later the game was all square. Mark Daniel linked up well with Beckett on the right. Scanlon smothered the initial cross but the ball was not cleared. It broke to Beckett going away from goal near the penalty spot where he turned and fired a lovely shot into the net for his and Cannock’s second.

Smith in the Cannock goal was down well again to see off another penalty corner as Hampstead tried to re-assert the control they had enjoyed in the first half. At the other end Jackson blazed a penalty corner wide and Chris Beck saw another set piece charged down by a Hampstead defender. With the game building to a pulsating climax, and the pressure becoming intense, both sides were made to take a break as a squirrel on the pitch forced the umpires to call a temporary halt to proceedings.

With the game resuming both sides were still throwing everything at each other in search of a winner. With two minutes left on the clock Hampstead struck again. Stoddart found Mike Dodd on the left of the D, he somehow smuggled the ball past Smith and Roche reacted the quickest to lift the ball into the net to re-take the lead for his side.

There was still one last chance for the visitors as the ball broke to Bandurak in the D near the baseline, but his shot flew over the bar and the home side had the points.

Cannock coach Andy Mitchelle could not hide his disappointment at the final whistle, telling England Hockey: “I felt that we were punished for our mistakes in the first half. We got caught too often in midfield with the ball and in fairness to Hampstead they took their opportunities well. Second half we were far better. We had far more chances on goal than they had but then we made a schoolboy error at the back and Hampstead got the winner.” He added: “Today demonstrates our season far. We’ve been able to create lots of opportunities but we don’t seem to be able to convert them. Plainly the missed penalty stroke in the first half has cost us the game.”

Hampstead and Westminster Player-Coach Tom Kavanagh was a relieved man after seeing his side grind out the result:

“I thought we played really well first half. We played the way wanted to and did all the things we were meant to do. In the second half there was a 20 minute spell where the game got away from us a bit. It was good to see that we battled through that spell and went on to get the points.”

Next week Cannock play host to fellow strugglers Sheffield Hallam whilst Hampstead travel to Reading. To read all of next week's fixtures and results for the weekend, you can find them all here.