Hampstead and Westminster captain Toby Roche hopes his side can “go one better” than last year after they reached the England Hockey League Playoff final with a win over Beeston.
Goals from Rupert Shipperley and Will Calnan set up a repeat of last year’s final with Surbiton and with the disappointment of a shootout defeat still fresh in Roche’s mind the Hampstead man is keen to avenge that defeat.
“It will be nice to play Surbiton. We’ve had some good tussles with them over the years and we lost on shootout last time so it’d be good to go one better and raise the trophy.”
Beeston made a bright start to the match and were unlucky not to take the lead after Mark Gleghorne’s penalty corner was well saved by Toby Reynolds-Cotterill. It took Hampstead a while to get going and Beeston had the better of the opening quarter, something which came as little surprise to Roche:
“Beeston are a serious side with some great players. We knew from the start it was going to be a tough game. Credit to them for a great season. That was one of the toughest games we’ve had all year.”
Hampstead began to assert themselves in the second quarter and it was only two stunning saves from Simon Hujwan in the Beeston goal – both to keep out penalty corners from Matt Guise-Brown which kept the scores level.
Hujwan kept out another penalty corner in the third quarter and it was looking like it could be one of those days for Hampstead, until Shipperley applied the finishing touch after a lovely move involving Chris Cargo and Harry Martin.
“Hujwan did it when we played them away.” said Roche afterwards. “We lost 1-0 and he made a number of saves that day. He’s a top class goalkeeper and with him saving our corners we had to find some goals from elsewhere.”
The lead lasted mere moments as Beeston went straight up the other end and equalised thanks to Joe Sharp’s close range effort.
In the fourth quarter Guise-Brown’s frustrating afternoon continued as his penalty corner came back off the post with the goalkeeper beaten. With time running out thoughts began to turn to a shootout but Calnan had other ideas, firing home a bullet strike with seven minutes to go for what turned out to be the winner.
“We’re delighted.” said Roche. “We set ourselves some goals at the start of the season. One was to win the indoor which we didn’t do, we fell at the semi-final stage so we’re delighted to get through this semi-final, secure a European spot and hopefully go one better than last year.”
They’ll have to get past Surbiton in order to get that one better. Watch the action live on Galvanised Hockey’s YouTube or Facebook pages.