Week 8 featured match review: Wimbledon 4-0 Hampstead and Westminster

Wimbledon NOW: Pensions Week 8 2013 Story

A virtuoso display from Phil Roper helped Wimbledon to gain a 4-0 win over Hampstead and Westminster, allowing Ben Marsden’s team to leapfrog their visitors in the NOW: Pensions Men’s Premier League.

Roper was a constant threat to the Hampstead defence and could easily have added to his two goals, were it not for a combination of the woodwork and some miraculous goalkeeping from Ian Scanlon.

Wimbledon imposed themselves on the game in the early going but found it hard to carve out any clear chances until around the tenth minute. Roper showed excellent technique to gather a difficult ball without breaking stride, before breaking into the D only to be denied by a smart stop from the advancing Ian Scanlon in the Hampstead goal.

Roper vs. Scanlon quickly became a feature as Wimbledon forced a series of penalty corners. The visitors’ goalkeeper made two excellent saves diving low to his right to keep the scores level. On 18 minutes it was a case of third time lucky for the former Sheffield Hallam man as he fired an unstoppable drag flick just inside the post and out of the goalkeeper’s reach to break the deadlock. Moments later Roper found himself with just the goalkeeper to beat. He showed good technique to collect and tee up a bouncing ball before trying to lift it over Scanlon who did well to get a glove up and clear the danger.

Scanlon continued to perform heroics, keeping his team in the game with an incredible double save. Ben Hawes threw an aerial pass over everyone and found Johnny Kinder in the D. Scanlon did enough to put Kinder off, but the ball fell to Alistair Brogdon. He lined up his shot but was denied by a splendid reverse stick block from the diving goalkeeper, who was then up quickly to repel the rebound from the same player.

Hampstead put together a good spell of possession as they battled hard to get a foothold in the game but Wimbledon carved them open once again. Roper played in Kinder on the left of the D but once again, Scanlon snaked out a left foot and got a vital touch to turn the ball away from danger.

The lead remained 1-0 at the break, but Wimbledon had created more than enough chances to be further ahead. It took them just four minutes after the restart to double their lead. James Osborn broke down the right and found Rob Pryce at the top of the D. Pryce had time to measure a pass that Chris Gregg was on hand to touch home at the near post.

Roper went close from another penalty corner but was unlucky to see his drag flick come back off the post. At the other end, Tom Millington was called upon for the first time, getting a strong glove to a Will Naylor deflection to preserve the clean sheet.

Wimbledon re-asserted their dominance and forced two more penalty corners, first Kinder’s effort was cleared by David Cooper before Roper hit the same post as before with another vicious drag flick.

With 49 minutes gone, the score became 3-0. Pryce linked up well with Brogdon down the right hand side, the former Waterloo Ducks star cut the ball back to Henry Weir whose perfect pass to the back post was despatched by Kinder with a minimum of fuss. It was a splendid team goal.

Hampstead rallied briefly and Oliver Didham’s slap shot on the turn was well dealt with by Millington, but it wasn’t long before Wimbledon had their fourth. With seven minutes left Roper collected the ball at the top of the D and with time and space he fired a bullet of a shot into the net giving Scanlon no chance.

Hampstead and Westminster Player-Coach Tom Kavanagh could not hide his frustration at his team’s display, telling England Hockey:

“We’re very disappointed in our performance. Our mental approach and the way we’re going about our hockey at the moment isn’t up to our usual standards and it’s not the way we want to be playing. If you give any team so many opportunities as we did today, you get punished. It’s unacceptable.”

By contrast, his opposite number Ben Marsden was very satisfied by his team’s showing:

“We were really good today. We played with freedom and really played the way we wanted to play. No disrespect to them but we stepped up a gear and got into our stride fairly easily. It’s been coming for us; we’ve had some hard games, some tough results so to play well for the majority of the 70 minutes is really great for us.” He added: “It’s a new group and a step up to a new league, so it was always going to be hard. I think we’re starting to find some form now. We asked some questions after some of our earlier games and we’ve worked hard in training. It was great to see it come together today.”

Next week Wimbledon travel to Sheffield Hallam, Hampstead and Westminster host Canterbury. To read all of the latest results and fixtures, visit our competititions pages.