REPORT: Wimbledon 1-2 Hampstead & Westminster

Wimbledon 1 (Peter Friend 58 (FG))
Hampstead & Westminster 2 (Guise-Brown 42 (PC), French 53 (PC))

Hampstead & westminster won a pulsating semi-final to make it through to the Men's Hockey League Final at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.

The game exploded into life in the final 20 minutes, with all three goals coming in that period, and the match ending with eight men against ten as both sides left everything on the pitch in search of the win.

As the first game of League Finals weekend, the first quarter was understandably cagey, and save for a couple of Will Calnan corners for Hampstead, both teams' defences were very much on top.

Into the second period and the game began to open up, Calnan looking the most threatening, including a superb deflection from a crash ball into the box that saw his effort cannon back off the crossbar. He then hit an excellent effort on the reverse that went narrowly over.

Soon after the start of the second half, H&W began to further impose themselves on the game and forced James Bailey into an excellent save from a corner. But with 42 minutes gone there was nothing Bailey could do to keep out Matt Guise-Brown's deflection from a flicked penalty corner.

H&W continued to look the most likely at this point, and again Bailey was called into action with a big left-handed save from yet another PC.

Wimbledon were desperate to find an equaliser, but it was H&W who doubled their advantage on 53, again from a corner as Sam French flicked home expertly, giving Bailey no chance.

Into the final five minutes, the two teams' desire to win came even more sharply into focus, with Wimbledon losing Henry Weir to a yellow card and then a couple of moments later going to a kicking back in search of a goal.

Wimbledon were then down to nine men following a yellow card for Simon Mantell, but to their huge credit found a goal with just 90 seconds left through Peter Friend.

The drama still was not finished, and with 45 seconds left Wimbledon were awarded a corner, only for the decision to be overturned. And in the ensuing seconds, Wimbledon were down to eight men after a card for Michael Hoarea, and Hampstead then lost a player to yet another card, meaning the game finished with eight against ten.

The final period in particular was a cracking advert for the Men's Hockey League, and Hampstead & Westminster certainly dug deep to earn their place in Sunday's final at 1:30pm.